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Crews to remove disabled boat leaking fuel in SF

Crews are swarming over a disabled fishing boat in SF, preparing to drag it to shore before any more fuel leaks into the Pacific.
Crews are swarming over a disabled fishing boat, preparing to drag it to shore before any more fuel leaks into the Pacific. The boat ran aground at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

The captain of the Palomo, Timothy Lybrand, hasn't been heard from since he put out a distress call Monday morning. Nobody is sure where he is, or what happened at sea.

The Coast Guard didn't get far with the boat in their first attempt Tuesday morning. But they'll be back when the tide comes back in the afternoon, hoping to pull this boat on to shore.

The fishing boat was designed to float. When it stopped doing that Monday after the captain reported it had hit some rocks and he abandoned ship, it came to a rest on its side on Ocean Beach with wave after wave crashing into it.

On Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard and several contract workers made their first attempt at pulling it to shore by using cables, a loader, an excavator, and high tide.

After a couple of hours it had moved five feet.

"Since the vessel has been in the surf for over 24 hours there's some hull penetration and that's filling up with silt which makes the vessel extremely heavy and difficult to remove from the surf," said Matt Edes with the Coast Guard.

Early Monday morning, Lybrand called nearby boats for help saying he had a life jacket and would attempt to swim to shore.

The 51-year-old was never found. But investigators believe he may not want to be found.

That's because Lybrand has a $75,000 bench warrant in Santa Clara County related to a drug arrest in 2010. Investigators say they went to his two listed addresses and didn't find him.

Legal problems aside, the trouble with his boat being left behind is the potential for diesel fuel to leak out. The Coast Guard estimates a boat that size can carry up to 400 gallons.

The Coast Guard says some fuel has already escaped and they won't really know the full extent of the pollution until the boat is safely on shore.

But the way things are going, that could take a while.

"This is Plan A right now," Edes said. "If it doesn't work, we'll work on a Plan B."

Once the boat is out of the water, the Coast Guard will try to figure out why it sank and take out all the fuel.

Then it will be up to the park services to dismantle and remove the boat.
Related Topics:
news coast guard SFFD boats boat accident boating crime drug drugs drug arrest San Francisco Ocean Beach
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