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Lost your boat? Navy says several washed ashore at its Coronado base

Storms the week of Jan. 8, 2018 washed several boats from Zuniga Point to the shores of Naval Base Coronado in California. The Navy would like the owners to claim their boats.

U.S. NAVY/FACEBOOK

By CARL PRINE | The San Diego Union-Tribune | Published: January 26, 2018

SAN DIEGO (Tribune News Service) — The powerful winter storm that deluged San Diego in early January also cast a small flotilla of boats ashore on Naval Base Coronado, and the military wants civilian owners to fetch them.

Military officials believe the vessels detached around Jan. 8 from Zuniga Point, a man-made jetty in the mouth of San Diego Bay on the southern tip of North Island where boaters often anchor for free.

Commanders want to get the boats off the base’s shore because they pose a potential health risk to beachgoers, threaten protected animal species and block military training.

“If you think you know who the owner of one the boats is, please tag them,” said Navy spokeswoman Sandy Duchac by email. “It is imperative that these boats are removed by the owners before nesting season begins on Feb. 15 for the threatened and endangered species dependent on our beaches for survival.”

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Photographs sent by Duchac show a range of vessels, including a dinghy, sailboats and a fishing boat, several of them stuck on rocks.

Anyone with information about the boats is asked to call the Navy at (619) 545-7418.

All boats manufactured since late 1972 must bear a 12-character hull identification number, and other vessels bear a state registration number stenciled across their bows to uniquely identify them, but Navy investigators found many of these stray craft lack them, making it harder to find their owners.

The mostly submerged mile of land jutting from Zuniga Point has long bedeviled military commanders and local law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating the boats that wash ashore along the Silver Strand.

“The problem is when someone abandons a boat there or they store their boats there for a long time and then a storm comes along and, because of geography, the only places the boats will go is into Coronado or onto the Navy’s property,” San Diego Harbor Police Department spokesman Sgt. Victor Banuelos said by telephone.

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Ordinances that the Harbor Police use to ticket boating scofflaws or haul away vessels don’t apply at the jetty, turning it into “basically a no-man’s land,” Banuelos said.

While the Harbor Police retain jurisdiction there for crimes written into California law, in most cases officers can’t tow off a boat that might break free in a squall.

“It’s kind of a loophole but there have been a lot of meetings about this,” said Banuelos, pointing to a series of sessions involving San Diego officials, military commanders and local law enforcement to better tackle the problem.

cprine@sduniontribune.com

©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune
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Naval Base Coronado says several vessels washed ashore from Zuniga Point during storms the week of Jan. 8, 2018. The Navy is asking the owners to claim their property.
U.S. NAVY/FACEBOOK

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