Nazi symbols appeared on the back of a sailboat anchored outside Vancouver, B.C., following a clash with city officials over the rights of the boat's owner.

On Saturday Sam Blyth Coates' boat, the Tiny Dancer, and four neighbouring vessels were accused of being moored dangerously close to Jericho Beach by parks board commissioner Ian Robertson.

"There's a concern for the health of people using the beach, given that there are five boats well within 500 metres of the beach," Robertson said.

Robertson was concerned the boats would block lifeguards' view of swimmers, and that pollutants might be getting dumped into the water.

"If they're living full-time on their boat, then what are they doing with their sewage?" Robertson said Friday.

On Wednesday, authorities say swastikas and SS symbols appeared on Coates' boat.

The marine unit of the Vancouver Police Department watched Coates remove the offensive symbols Thursday afternoon, though Const. Lindsey Houghton says he was not forced.

"It was under his own volition," Houghton said. "It's not a police matter. We just went out there because the marine unit has a rapport with the individual."

"It wasn't breaking any laws, we looked at the hate crime legislation and it wasn't contravening any of that."

Robertson admits that the city has no jurisdiction over the waters surrounding the beach.

"Technically these boats are not breaking any maritime law. That's the frustration. It's not easy or readily apparent what to do with them," he said.

The parks commissioner says he hopes to meet with federal and provincial officials to find a solution.