MONTECITO, Calif. - A medium-sized boat that crashed into the shoreline below the Santa Barbara cemetery has been cleaned up by a crew from Marborg Industries Wednesday.
The cleanup eliminates serious safety issues from broken pieces of the boat.
Already there have been reports of table tops, wood pieces, cushions and other items believed linked to the damaged vessel getting into the surf line and coming onshore. They've also been spotted in areas where the public is recreating.
That's created a dangerous safety and maritime hazard.
Marborg specializes in boat removals at low tide and has done several over the years on the shoreline when the owners could not take care of it.
Santa Barbara's Heal the Ocean was on scene and funded the cleanup after numerous calls from the public about the broken boat, the mess on the beach and the pollution in the ocean.
"We're just doing it because I was tired with all calls and the run around and I knew were were not going to get anywhere," said Heal the Ocean Executive Director Hillary Hauser. She personally came down to see the work.
Crews assigned to the project use heavy equipment and hand tools and then walk the beach to make sure the smallest items were picked up.
The goal was to return the beach area to a clean condition and take the wrecked vessel out in pieces before it caused more safety concerns.
Hauser said at first it was hard to figure out who was responsible. The boat was anchored off Santa Barbara and ended up on a county beach just outside of the city limits. "There's the city over there, the county over here, what permits (are needed) and this and that and the other. We went around and around on the bureaucracy of it. I finally said I give up, I'll pay for it."
Funding came from the Johnson Ohana foundation, founded by singer and part time Montecito resident Jack Johnson and his wife Kim.
Brian Borgatello with Marborg Industries said his crews were ready to go days ago but waited to see if the government put a plan together. He's urging a faster response in future cases. "If you've got some heavy swells, the boat is destroyed, buried under sand you have some heavy objects. You've got a nightmare all the way around. "
In this case the currents off Butterfly Beach sent the broken boat parts along that shoreline, and then around the point at the Coral Casino to Montecito Creek.
"It was broken up over approximately a half mile and it as up on the rocks, in the ice plant and people were salvaging through it already," said Borgatello. He worried that kids playing at the beach, would climb on the wrecked boat and hurt themselves from the exposed nailed and sharp edges.
Two engines were also in the wreckage. One was still connected to the vessel. Another was in the surf, half buried in the sand. Both had oils and other chemicals. There were also worries about battery acid.
Some of the engine parts had been removed.
Some of the metal pieces from inside the boat were still along the beach, a few were wedged into the sand with exposed sharp edges.
The Marborg team worked in several areas of the shore line. Many had trash cans to pile in the debris.
Citizens have been helping by piling up what they picked off the beach. Several piles had been stacked up.
The owner of the vessel has not been named. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department typically handles these cases to find the owners, and seek repayment for cleanup work.
Marborg says during the peak of the winter storm season, which is still to come, they are called out regularly.