Fishing Vessel, Aleutian Storm, has been grounded on Sonoma Coast State Beach near Bodega Bay, Calif. The United States Coast Guard said the vessel ran aground during the Feb. 9 storm and since has been battered in other storms and buried further in the sand. After numerous attempts to rescue the boat and remove as much fuel as possible, the Aleutian Storm must be removed piece by piece.

Debris can be found scattered across surrounding areas, and the fuel on the vessel has leaked due to the attempts to get floating again. Many locals have helped in the cleanup efforts, according to The Press Democrat.

Veteran Fort Bragg fisherman Christian Iversen told The Press, “It’s traumatizing, is what it is. I wake up every night grinding my teeth over this.” Iversen is a close friend of the vessel owner and operator, Chris Fox.

The Aleutian Storm was fishing the crabbing grounds en route to Bodega to refuel. Days after the initial grounding, Coast Guard Lieutenant Natasha Kenney told the press, “I’m hoping for the best; we want it off here just as bad as he does.”

The 58-foot vessel was still buoying at high tide, and rescue crews and the vessel’s crew were hopeful of towing her off the beach. The first tugboat to assist in towing the Aleutian Storm out arrived with a rope pieced together in numerous spots. According to The Press, the line had broken twice, even with assistance from local community members, rescue swimmers, and State Park lifeguards.

Another Coast Guard Lieutenant, Rachel Davis, stated, “The Coast Guard does not have the authority to remove the vessel from the beach. Our authorities lie solely in pollution mitigation and response.”

The Coast Guard continued to stand water to ensure that surrounding areas were safe and the potential of pollutants was secure in the meantime. The large waves kept the state’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the Coast Guard from accessing all the fuel tanks. They allowed Fox the opportunity to try to rescue his boat, but as the powerful current increased, it was looking less promising.

The Coast Guard reported that it was likely that the vessel leaked a small amount of fuel in the first few days. Last week, they had to take on the incident and focus on preventing more fuel from leaking. They worked closely with Fox and his insurance company, with the assistance of heavy equipment, to pull the boat further up the beach out of the weather. The line used for this rescue attempt snapped as well. The 57-ton vessel was buried further by the weekend’s storm waves.

The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is now the lead agency on the incident. However, the cleanup is still Fox’s responsibility. Emergency response coordinator for the sanctuary, Max Delaney, told The Press that he was stunned by how little time the ocean took to claim the vessel, given the double steel hull and sandy beach setting. He also mentioned they were uncertain whether any fuel remained on board and what salvage efforts would be planned for this possibility.

Parking lots at South Salmon Creek Beach and Bodega Dunes State Park will remain closed due to weather-dependent salvage efforts. South Salmon Creek Beach is open to visitors except within 100 yards of the damaged vessel.

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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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