Yacht salvage at Farallones may be delayed months

(KGO)
April 17, 2012 6:42:18 PM PDT
There is now a race against time to remove the sailboat involved in the fatal weekend shipwreck at the Farallon Islands. Nesting season at the protected sanctuary is about to begin and that means the salvage operation could be on hold for months.

Salvage crews have a very small window to remove the boat. If they don't start Wednesday, it may be too late. The 38-foot yacht sits atop jagged rocks, a visual reminder of the tragic accident. Once it's removed, it may help the grieving process for the loved ones of the crew who lost their lives. Sadly, it may be a long time before that happens.

"Right now, they're in the midst of pupping season for the seals and nesting time for the birds," says Tim Parker owner of Parker Diving Service, the salvaging company that will most likely remove the vessel. The nesting season is a big problem for Parker. The Farallones are a protected sanctuary. The birds will begin laying their eggs next week. "Once that occurs, it precludes any attempted salvage of the vessel because they don't want the birds disturbed during nesting season," Parkers explains.

Parker has been contacted by the Coast Guard and officials from the sanctuary, but he hasn't heard from the boat owner's insurance company. If he doesn't begin now, he'll have to wait until October when the nesting season is over. He says it will take about five days to prepare and finish the salvage, which means airlifting the boat from the island. He says pulling it from the rocks would be environmentally unsound. "If it lands and gets jammed in one of the other rocks, it's going to break apart and then you're going to have all the fiber glass on the floor of the sea," he says.

In the meantime, fishermen are being extra vigilant. Now that the Coast Guard has suspended recovery operations, they're the ones who may find the bodies of the four men still missing at sea. Frank and Mike Rescino, third and fourth generation fishermen, say recovering the bodies may help loved ones find closure. "People that are trained on the ocean would spot a body immediately," Frank says. "It's a really big ocean, but it's a small tight-knit community and we all try to help each other out," Mike added.

Parker salvages boats all the way from Eureka to Monterey. In fact, he does most of the boat salvaging in the Bay Area. He says that if he has to wait until October, there is still a good chance the boat may be intact because storm season is just about over and the boat sits high upon the rocks, away from the biggest waves.


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