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In Duxbury, piles of abandoned kayaks spur pleas from police

Dozens and dozens of standup paddleboards and kayaks have been left behind on town property in Duxbury. Police want them gone, calling it a big problem.
Dozens and dozens of standup paddleboards and kayaks have been left behind on town property in Duxbury. Police want them gone, calling it a big problem. Duxbury Police Department

The beaches have no lifeguards on duty. Boats have been winterized. The ocean is very cold.

Summer is over.

But in Duxbury, there are remnants of the warmer, sunnier days scattered and lingering all over the kempt South Shore town — and it has become a problem for officials there.

The Duxbury Police Department is all but begging residents to come and claim the dozens upon dozens of kayaks and standup paddleboards — or SUPs — left or forgotten along the shorelines at several town landings, thousands of dollars worth of recreational water vessels that they’re trying to figure out what to do with next.

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The issue is so pervasive that police twice had to put out notices to residents this month, seeking immediate relief.

“The Duxbury Police Department is asking all owners of Kayaks, Paddle Boards, and similar items left on Town Properties to remove them immediately,” Police Chief Stephen McDonald said in a statement shared on Twitter and the town’s website. “The volume of these items has become unmanageable for the Town.”

Police shared two photographs of the mostly neon-colored SUPs and kayaks splayed haphazardly on piles of fallen leaves and brown grass — sure signs that summer is indeed dead and gone.

The improperly stored boards were ditched at various town properties such as Shipyard Lane, Howland’s Lane, Cove Street, Landing Road, and other town landings accessible to water, officials said.

Police would not hazard a guess at how many of the expensive watercraft were strewn around Duxbury. Despite pleas, people have been slow to reclaim them.
Police would not hazard a guess at how many of the expensive watercraft were strewn around Duxbury. Despite pleas, people have been slow to reclaim them. Duxbury Police Department

Lieutenant Lewis Chubb said at one point there were upward of 90 watercrafts in a single location. He said this happens almost every fall, but this year, for some reason, was worse than ever. When asked how many there were around town this year, he said he “wouldn’t even begin to guess.”

“It basically just keeps increasing. There’s more and more of them” each year, Chubb said in a follow-up telephone interview Wednesday. “Twenty years ago it was just a handful, and wasn’t an issue. Now it’s gotten to the point that it’s unmanageable.”

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Chubb said the department is hoping the dual notices will prompt people to remove the items. But some people won’t heed their advice.

“They have been steadily decreasing,” he said, “but not as quickly as we had hoped.”

On Nov. 5, town officials put out a separate notice saying there were at least “80 kayaks, dinghies, and paddleboards” stored without permission or abandoned at Shipyard Lane alone.

Officials gave owners a Dec. 1 deadline to clear them out, before the vessels “will be removed from the site and disposed of,” according to the warning.

The town manager did not immediately return a request for comment about next steps.

Assistant harbormaster Connor Flynn said people often use the kayaks and paddleboards left at Shipyard Lane to get out to bigger boats or to cruise around during the summer. They leave them behind, he said, because residents don’t feel like bringing them back and forth between their homes and the beach.

“It’s usually a repeated habit,” he said.

Kayaks and paddleboards can cost anywhere from $150 to $800 — and even more — depending on the brand. Police urged anyone who doesn’t want to see that money go to waste to come and collect their goods posthaste.

“We are currently examining options for disposal of any watercraft that are left abandoned on Town property,” police said in the advisory to residents. “Owners can avoid any potential loss of their items by removing them immediately.”

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Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.