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The Tale Of The Sunken Hoboat

"Pirate Boats" or "Hoboats" whatever you want to call them.

Have you wondered what's up with the boat lodged on the west side of the Willamette River near S Pendleton Street? Nearest to my recollection it showed up after the December storms, and certainly drifted over from the flotilla of tweaker boats just right off Ross Island, an area referred to as the “pirate cove” directly across the river. It was mostly submerged until about a week ago when water levels dropped.

Yesterday while out for a jog I came across a tweaker obviously trying to strip the boat of any valuables, doing an actual act of piracy. After recording him for a few minutes an older gentlemen confronted the tweaker.

I found the whole interaction funny enough that I thought I’d post it here.


Man: You getting ready to haul that off?

Tweaker: It's my boat.

Man: Oh it's your boat?

Tweaker: [unintelligible] Yeah it got stuck storm, oh I have cancer, I was away.

Man: Oh?

Tweaker: Got stuck during the storm some time, I guess.

Man: Was it over in the cove?

Tweaker: Yeah. It was some dirt bags who tried to steal it or something. [unintelligible] I got it from cranson[?], I got it from him and his wife, one owner. He's like laying on his death bed. I tried to do right by it, then this happens … you know.

Man: Yeah - you going to be able to get it off the rocks there?

Tweaker: Well I don't think I can get it out here, somebody stole the motor. It's to be expected. [unintelligible] Down on the water. I've got … and stuff, some tools of other people, that I need to get out of here.

Man: So is it full of water now?

Tweaker: No, someone shot the windows when I was away out last year. [unintelligible] There was water coming in from the side. If I can just plug that line. I'm trying to get some of the weight out.

I'm certain this man was just pillaging the boat and it didn't belong to him. I love the tweaker story telling: it’s my boat, but I had cancer, and it’s been stripped by bad guys, the motors gone, and it was shot, but I’m here to get tools that belong to other people.

This man almost certainly lived in the flotilla of hoboats, that's why he arrived by boat himself, he's just looking for whatever scrap he can steal. I have about 8 minutes of video him pulling out random items - some he tossed in his boat, other items he left in the abandoned boat.

Two weeks ago an article was published by Willamette Week detailing the City of Portland stupid bullshit involving hoboats, boat towing, toothless warnings, and the City of Portland having unpaid bills to the county.

A note written by a parks official Aug. 2, 2022, said that “Portland Fire [& Rescue] had serious fire concerns related to the vacant floating structure and use of the docks by long-term moorage.” Rangers had found an extension cord running from the Rhône Ranger to the Newport Seafood Grill. Boats would often steal the restaurant’s power.

Parks rangers feared Nagels might be another boat-dweller who had threatened to kill restaurant maintenance workers in August and who had a laundry list of felony convictions.

When that article was posted to Reddit a user commented:

The article conveniently leaves out that they are called pirate hobos because they go around stealing other people's boats, motors, boat parts, etc. Not sure if this guy was one of them, but there is a reason they are not appreciated.

That and the garbage/sewage they dump in the river. Don't step in around toe Island because it's infested with parasites.

Problem has been going on for years - like this 5 year old video from KOIN 6:

Or this 2016 video where the man in the blue boat shot at a drone operator. That blue boat is still out there from yesterday.

How is a city so sanctimonious about environmental protection allowing this problem to fester for so many years?

Literally Piracy.

Send in the Coast Guard, FFS. Not joking, that’s what needs to happen.

If government is off the table, I’m down for some anti-piracy actions. I’ll bring the body armor, bolt cutters, and rope - cut their mooring, hook up the ropes with a grappling hook, and sail away. I just need someone with a powerful enough boat to tow these things in.

Funny story - this isn’t unprecedented in Portland history. You can call them Hoboats, Pirate Cove, whatever you want - but the city’s old nickname for the Willamette hoboats: Scowtown. It’s kinda got a ring to it, you know? There’s plenty of mythos of outlaws living on the river as well. For example, the legend of Nancy Boggs and her floating brothel, with police bribes, informants, tax evasion, etc (probably heavily dramatized over the years).

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