.Fishing Boat Cannot Be Saved Off Sonoma Coast

1) The community saga of the fishing boat stuck in the shallows at South Salmon Creek Beach off the Sonoma County coast has taken a tragic turn. A full week after the 57-foot boat from San Francisco, named Aleutian Storm, ran aground on the way to the Bodega Bay harbor during a crabbing mission — despite repeated attempts to pull it back out to sea, and glimmers of hope along the way — our local Coast Guard station called off the operation Friday, ahead of the incoming storm. And last night, “the boat was torn apart” in the wild waves, says Bodega-based photographer Jerry Dodrill, who’s been hanging around and helping for days — meanwhile documenting the whole ordeal. The Press Democrat reported Friday: “Listing toward the ocean and battered so repeatedly by waves that a large gash has appeared on its starboard side, in the wheelhouse and through the deck, the 57-ton fishing vessel is now so weighted down with water and sand, and its structural integrity so compromised, that federal officials determined it no longer could be moved. The incident now shifts out of federal jurisdiction and becomes the responsibility of vessel Capt. Chris Fox, his insurers and their contractors to arrange for salvage operations under the oversight of California State Parks, which owns the beach.” To facilitate that, state park officials decided to close the beach to the public. “The operation will require the use of heavy equipment and will require a large safety buffer for the operators,” park officials said. “The closure will include all State Park lands from Salmon Creek extending south to Mussel Point.” The mission to save the boat over the past week became a real community affair, involving dozens of local volunteers — including photographers drawn by the spectacle, crews sent by response agencies, environmentalists concerned about the 1,500 pounds of diesel fuel reported to be on board, and local fishermen whose hearts went out to this San Francisco fishing crew watching their livelihood viscerally beaten down by ocean waves. In the words of Dick Ogg, a “veteran fisherman who is president of the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Marketing Association” and spoke to the PD: “If you lost your house, if you lost your means of making a living, all of that is similar to what’s happening. Chris works so hard. He’s such a good person and it’s just devastating to see something like this happen.” And photographer Jerry Dodrill wrote on Facebook last Wednesday: “There are so many moving parts to this story, beyond the simple circumstances how the boat ended up on the beach, or that it is in a marine protected area that is also a much loved state park, in a spot that is critical habitat for endangered Snowy Plover that is currently in nesting season. There are politics, agencies, fishing communities, loss of property, livelihoods, and the human tragedy of watching a beautiful dream come unraveled.” As for the environmental aspect: Crews and volunteers have reportedly been combing the beach for debris, and the government agencies involved say they’ve been monitoring the potential hazmat situation throughout. According to the PD, a small amount of the boat’s fuel “leaked from a compromised tank” at one point, and crews were able to extract another small amount. “A biologist with State Parks monitored the beach throughout the week and checked several birds but found none fouled by oil,” the paper reported. But it seems like it’s been an ongoing struggle — and I’m not sure what happened to the fuel when the boat tore apart last night. I’ll keep you posted. (Source: Cal Spill Watch & KRON4 & Jerry Dodrill Photography & Jerry Dodrill Photography via Facebook & Sonoma Sheriff via Facebook & North Bay Bohemian & Press Democrat; paywall)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

North Bay Bohemian E-edition North Bay Bohemian E-edition