Heal the Ocean Removes Stranded Sailboat from Santa Barbara’s East Beach

Tropical Storm Kay’s High Winds and Swells Combined to Toss Newly Purchased Boat Ashore

A newly purchased and uninsured sailboat beached in a high tide amid big swells from Tropical Storm Kay. | Credit: Steven Cox

After buffeting Baja California with extreme winds and flooding last week, Hurricane Kay weakened to a tropical storm by Friday, but it was still generating high winds and swells, which combined with a very high tide to dislodge a sailboat at anchor just east of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf, tossing it onto the sands at East Beach early Saturday morning.

Heal the Ocean’s Harry Rabin was soon there, concerned the boat’s diesel fuel might contaminate the waters or that if it broke up, more trash would spread. With boat owner Nick Baker, the two pumped the fuel out. “We didn’t want anything going into the ocean,” Rabin said, and Heal the Ocean paid MarBorg to bring an excavator to break up the Dock U Mentor at 5 a.m. on Monday and throw it into a roll-off container.

Heal the Ocean field advisor Harry Rabin made the calls to have the boat removed and made sure the fuel and oils were kept out of the ocean. | Credit: Courtesy Heal the Ocean

Rabin said Baker told him he had bought the boat three days earlier, which was uninsured, as was a second boat he owned. “Heal the Ocean is not here for the purpose of supporting people who aren’t going to be responsible,” Rabin said, stating that the insurance to cover removing a beached boat cost about $150. He said he’d met with Mayor Randy Rowse and was planning to meet with the Coast Guard, tow services, and the City of San Diego, which was having a similar problem of uninsured boats at anchor foundering on the beaches.

Many boats in the anchorage and mooring field had moved into the harbor for safety during the big swells, said Harbormaster Erik Engebretson. Anchoring a boat on the sandy bottom was free, but there was a fee to use the mooring field, which held boats in place with very heavy chains tethered to a mooring pendant and buoy. If not for Heal the Ocean, the city would have had to wait 72 hours before it could act to remove Baker’s boat, Engebretson said.

In addition to high waves, the storm dropped buckets of water in random places — Carpinteria on Monday and Cuyama on Sunday, where thunderstorms sent mud flows through Corral Canyon Creek — but only drops in most of the county. Cuyama probably had the county’s highest rain total, at 2-3 inches, said Eric Boldt with the National Weather Service. The sea breezes are back for a while, Boldt said, but it looked like hot, windy weather would return next week.

A MarBorg excavator tears wrecked boat apart and loads it into a dumpster on the sands. | Credit: Courtesy Brian Borgatello

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