A fishing boat has been grounded on a remote stretch of beach near Bodega Bay, Calif. The United States Coast Guard said the vessel ran aground during Friday night’s rough sea. The mission to get the boat floating again is urgent due to leaking fuel that could become a substantial pollution hazard. 

The major re-floating mission has been happening by air, land, and sea on Sonoma Coast State Beach, a popular state park and surfing destination. Dozens of people have been working to get the F/V Aleutian Storm back into the Pacific without severe damage. The 58-foot vessel is stuck in multiple feet of sand, and getting it unstuck has been quite problematic.

U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Natasha Kenney told ABC, “She does weigh about 57 tons, so everything we do has to have a pretty heavy lift. It’s been challenging, and she is a steel hull vessel- it’s beneficial because she’s not breaking up like a fiberglass or a wood hull would.”

Lieutenant Kenny said that the crab fishing boat had four crewmembers on board when it ran aground, and they made it to safety by jumping from the vessel. Local fire districts, the Coast Guard, state park rangers, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, and the CHP responded.

It is rumored on social media that a crew member had fallen asleep, which caused the choppy seas to steer the vessel into the state park. Similar to the F/V Tara Lynn II that ran aground in Cape Elizabeth, ME, just a few weeks ago in a winter storm. 

The Coast Guard shared that approximately 1,500 gallons of diesel are on board. Captain Chris Fox was en route to Bodega to refuel the vessel after fishing in the crabbing grounds. The plan on Monday was to attach a tow line at high tide between the Aleutian Storm and a tugboat offshore to get her off the beach.

“Today, our efforts are to refloat the vessel; we’re going to pull it off the beach,” said Kenney.

However, Monday’s rescue attempt failed after the tow line broke. The follow-up plan is to offload the fuel to lighten the boat, hopefully making it more likely to tow off the beach: the vessel owner and operator, Capt. Fox had insurance on the fishing vessel, so the rescue operations should be covered.

“I’m hoping for the best; we want it off here just as bad as he does,” Kenney noted.

“There’s always a possibility she could take on water and stay where she is.”

The boat could get buried in the sand as stormy weather arrives midweek. The concern at that point would even be getting it floating again. Kenney told The Press Democrat that it would be up to Fox and state parks to figure out what salvaging looks like if refloating isn’t a further option.

The Coast Guard established a Unified Command with NOAA, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response, California State Parks, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, and the vessel captain.

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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