The warm weekend brought people out to the beach.
But at Playa del Rey, instead of taking in a sea of blue reaching to the horizon, visitors were treated to a view of a hulking house boat that ended up stranded there after a storm hit Feb. 27.
Locals want to know why the thing is still there, almost two weeks later. We found the answer:
“It's so heavy they're not going to be able to pull it back out,” said L.A. County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Larry Ramage. “It will be a big oredeal. They're going to have to cut it up to remove it.”
Because the vessel appears be steel-hulled, this is going to take heavy equipment, including cranes, he said. And that could take time.
Meanwhile locals say the thing has become an eyesore, attracting looters. “People were looting and climbing all over it,” one witness told us late last week.
The 70 or 75 foot steel boat came ashore about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 27 after the first of two storms hit Southern California, bringing rough seas with them, authorities said.
According to a sheriff's statement:
… The Captain of the vessel awoke to his boat dragging anchor. His attempts to start the vessels engines were unsuccessful, and before responding rescue units could arrive, his vessel went aground in heavy seas. The three occupants of the powerboat, along with 3 dogs, were assisted by responding Marina del Rey Sheriff's rescue boat deputies and Los Angeles County Lifeguards.
The family of four onboard were okay, but they had to seek shelter from the Red Cross, according to sheriff's officials.
Ramage said it was one of a handful of boats that drop anchor in open ocean just outside Marina del Rey, often because the owners can't afford or don't want to pay slip fees inside the calmer waters of the Marina.
That's fine much of the time. But when the seas grow rough, those boats can become unmoored.
While owners are normally responsible for removal of such vessels, in this case it looks like state taxpayers are going to take over.
“I was able to confirm that the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has requested funding from the [California] Division of Boating and Waterways for the removal of this vessel,” division spokeswoman Gloria Sandoval told us.
That settles it. Maybe. The Sheriff's Department says the LAPD has jurisdiction because the boat ended up on dry land patrolled by that department's Pacific Division. However, the area is actually part of Dockweiler State Beach.
In any case, the U.S. Coast Guard told us it's not their problem.
“Unfortunately it seems annoying for the folks who live there,” the U.S. Coast Guard's Adam Eggers told us. “It falls outside our line of ability to do anything. If it's on the beach I guarantee we've already sent investigators out there. But we don't have Coast Guard impound yards. That's part of the reason we're not involved. We don't have the capacity to tow boats that have run aground.”
Carol Baker of the county's Department of Beaches and Harbors said, “technically the vessel is in state water:”
As a practical matter we usually help out with removal. This is a large vessel. It clearly is not seaworthy. It's too big for us to remove with typical equipment that we have on hand. We might have to order up some special equipment.
Sounds like the view's not going to improve anytime soon.