Boat owner frustrated and homeless after sweep of Oakland estuary

Timothy Cramer says Wednesday morning he was on his sailboat anchored in a cove along the Oakland estuary near Coast Guard island.

"I was completely out of everybody's way. It was not abandoned," said Cramer pointing the place where he says he'd been repairing his 33-foot sailboat.

He says he was fixing the vessel so he could sail it up to Benicia where he had a slip at a marina. He says an Oakland police sergeant approached him, told him the sailboat needed to move, but gave him one day to move the boat.

An hour later, Cramer says he came back from an errand to find Alameda police towing the boat away.

"Oakland PD, that's Oakland water, gave me 24 hours to be there," said Cramer.

When he finally tracked it down, he says he was shocked to see a backhoe had punched a hole through the deck and was loading pieces into a dumpster to be taken away.

Alameda police say they'd been asked by Oakland police to assist in a sweep of the estuary, removing derelict, abandoned, or unsafe boats from the water that had been tagged weeks or months before. 

Cramer says his boat had been tagged last month after it had drifted in the estuary. He says he'd moved it from a private dock to the cove by the April 20th deadline.

He says it was federally registered with the Coast Guard and shouldn't have been towed. A Coast Guard official confirmed the registration, but says the law does not require local agencies to notify them. 

"He does have a registered documentation with the coast guard a federal registration rather than with the state," said Lt. junior grade Courtney Hanson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, "This is a local jurisdiction issue so we don't need to be notified in instances such as this." 

Cramer says he's still in shock and wiped away tears as he talked. 

He says the boat was his home and he'd poured hours of work into fixing it up.

He says he's a carpenter and says the backhoe that punched a hole in through the deck also destroyed his carpentry tools stored below that he needs to work

"My entire life was in there. I had lasers, I had floats, I had...I'm a contractor. I had all my tools in the berth. They bent lasers, they destroyed levels," said Cramer.

Cramer says he was able to salvage a few things. Those are now packed into his SUV.

"It was my home. I am now homeless," Cramer said, "I want the money that boat was worth, my tools were worth. I want to have the ability to get a place to live. I mean that was my everything."

Cramer says he'll have to live in his SUV for the time being, until he gets the situation sorted out. He says he has contacted attorneys and is considering legal action.