A salvage crew from TowBoatUS Ventura tows fisherman Travis Meyer’s boat back to shore after it capsized early Thursday morning, November 2, in the Santa Barbara Channel. | Credit: Meyer Family

It was the early-morning hours of Thursday, November 2, and Santa Barbara–based fisherman Travis Meyer was asleep aboard his anchored 24-foot Privateer fishing boat Obsessed — which he had just purchased in late August and spent the past few months repairing and restoring for the Central Coast waters — and while he slept, his bait tank clogged and began to leak water for nearly three hours.

He woke up in shock to see that his recently refurbished boat was already leaning over to one side, and by the time he stepped on the deck, he said, the corner of the boat began to go under — he was going down fast, and without much time, he made a desperate attempt to call for help.

“With literally no time to think, I was able to get a mayday out to a friend nearby before I was in the water,” Meyer wrote in a social media post, recounting the close call. “After approximately five minutes on the bottom of the hull yelling to nearby fishermen, two boats came to help.”

With the help of one of the boats, captained by fisherman Adam Zetter, Meyer was able to safely escape the capsized vessel. In the early-morning darkness, they worked to secure the overturned Obsessed, and Meyer began to collect as much of his fishing gear as he could grab from the cold waters.

A salvage crew was called in from TowBoatUS Ventura, and the tow boat arrived before sunrise to help assess the damage and tow Meyer’s boat back to shore. The crew made a plan to tow the vessel upside down behind them into shallow waters, and after two attempts, were able to turn the boat back over and gather any salvageable equipment before docking safely in Santa Barbara. 

Meyer aboard his 24-foot Privateer fishing boat Obsessed | Credit: Meyer Family

Despite saving the boat from sinking into the ocean, Meyer says that the countless hours and weeks of getting his boat fishing-ready, and about three-fourths of his fishing gear, are lost forever. 

His wife, Amanda Meyer, described the experience from her point of view on a GoFundMe page she set up to help the family recover their losses and rebuild their fishing business, HAHA Fishing, which started with a 15-foot aluminum lake boat before her husband eventually bought and restored the 24-foot Obsessed fishing vessel.

“In the early hours of November 2, 2023 I woke up to the worst nightmare of a fisherman’s wife,” Meyer wrote. “At 2 a.m. the Coast Guard called telling me they had rescued my husband from the ocean as his boat had capsized.”

“Unfortunately, the boat that he had worked on so hard these last weeks is going to need to be rebuilt,” she continued. “In addition, all his equipment and tackle as well as the motor is lost. Travis is one of the hardest working guys I know. He’s put blood, sweat, and tears for the eight years he’s been building this business, and you can see it from his product that he sells he takes pride in his work. Travis is the kind of guy who will help out anyone he comes across whenever he can, and now he needs our help.”

In the few years Meyer has been working as a commercial fisherman in Santa Barbara, he has already built up a reputation as a hard-working fisherman who supplies several local restaurants and residents with high-quality catches, even delivering fish door to door during the pandemic. So far, his GoFundMe has reached $6,600 toward its total goal of $60,000. For more information, or to donate to the Meyer family, visit here.


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