A boat that washed ashore in Carpinteria over the weekend is expected to be removed this morning from the Padaro Beach area.
The 45-foot vessel drifted to the shores of Carpinteria on Saturday, breaking apart and spreading debris across the beach and in the water. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office suspects that the boat broke free from where it was originally anchored and slowly drifted to shore. No passengers were on board the ship when it washed ashore.
Removing the boat from the shore proved to be no simple feat, as the Sheriff’s Office and volunteers from Heal the Ocean had to coordinate with Union Pacific to stop any trains coming through the area to buy enough time to get an excavator over the tracks.
The attempted removal is expected to take place at 5 a.m. today during low tide, and officials are aiming to get a MarBorg truck down to the shore to haul the boat out.
According to Raquel Zick, the sheriff’s office public information officer, the Sheriff’s Office worked around the clock to gain access to the beach and had to construct a ramp to get the excavator across the railroad tracks and onto the shore.
“Gaining access is very challenging,” Ms. Zick told the News-Press. “There’s not a ramp along that section of beach, or most of our beaches actually, so we had to coordinate how to get heavy equipment over the railroad tracks and get it on the beach.”
Due to protocols in the harbor and navigation code, the Sheriff’s Office was required to post notice and wait 72 hours before removing the ship, which is why the boat remained in place during the first half of this week, Ms. Zick said.
She estimates the boat removal will cost the Sheriff’s Office around $7,000 to $9,000, which they will pay for with funds from a Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange grant.
After the ship crashed on shore, toxic waste and debris began spilling from the vessel, according to volunteers from Heal the Ocean.
In the days since the boat washed ashore, the ship has slowly deteriorated, leaving pieces of insulation and Styrofoam littered along the shoreline and spewing diesel fuel and sludge into the ocean and onto the beach.
The Coast Guard and Patriot Environmental Services arrived at the beach Saturday to remove the toxic waste that spilled from the boat. The cleanup effort continued through Wednesday.
Volunteers picked up about three garbage truck loads worth of trash and debris that came from the crashed vessel, according to Harry Rabin, a volunteer with Heal the Ocean who helped coordinate this week’s cleanup. Mr. Rabin said as of Wednesday, debris from the boat had spread about four miles down the coast, and a portion of the ship’s upper deck even drifted into the Carpinteria Seal Preserve.
“We’ve been racing against the clock to get this thing out of here,” Mr. Rabin told the News-Press.
After the boat is removed this morning, Mr. Rabin said he and other volunteers are aiming to remove any other waste that could spew from the vessel once it is excavated.
To prevent future boating incidents along the shores of the Central Coast, Mr. Rabin is aiming to develop a partnership between the Coast Guard and Reef Guardians, an organization he co-founded, to intercept drifting boats before they crash on shore.
“We’re hoping to set a precedent here,” Mr. Rabin said. “This situation isn’t just here, it’s tragic and it happens all over California. These boats run aground, dropping toxic waste in the ocean. This is a Band-Aid, what we’re doing right now.”