A captain allegedly responsible for shipwrecking his 50-foot schooner off Francis State Beach Wednesday evening was arrested by California State Parks rangers.
The boat owner, a 50-year-old man out of Alaska, was allegedly under the influences of unspecified substances at the time of the accident, but he was released the next day with no charges due to insufficient evidence, according to San Mateo County prosecutors.
The boat, the “Serenade II”, remained washed up at the beach Thursday morning as four separate government agencies begin coordinating a salvage operation.
The owner reportedly purchased his boat recently at a lien sale at Pillar Point Harbor. He left the harbor Wednesday and anchored his boat off the waters of Francis State Beach.
He later told rangers that he was trying to do repairs on his vessel, but the winds were pushing his boat and dragging his anchor toward land. He said his fuel supply was nearly exhausted and he couldn’t generate power to fight the gales.
Around 6 p.m., bystanders at the beach called to report the boat was in distress. Before rescue agencies arrived, the captain abandoned ship and escaped in a small dingy.
The man had no injuries and he explained that he was the only person on board. A bystander described the man as acting erratic, possibly drunk. Rangers performed a sobriety test and later arrested the man for being under the influence of unspecified substance.
He was released at about 11 a.m. Thursday morning from Maguire Correctional Facility, based on a lack of evidence. Law enforcement officials could not provide more details on Thursday afternoon.
During the evening, State Fish and Wildlife officials took initial steps to make sure the boat didn’t leak any hazardous materials. They removed all the batteries and gas canisters from the boat. On Thursday morning, the boat was continuing to be tossed by the waves about 40 feet from the waterline. Volunteers and state parks workers were beginning to clean up piles of wood and plastic being ripped off the boat.
Officials with state parks, the San Mateo County Harbor District and the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary are meeting to decide which agency should be responsible for the boat cleanup.
“The surf’s hitting the deck and bringing more debris ashore,” said supervising ranger Michael Grant. “We’re looking at all the possibilities, but this is going to be a big effort.”