Coast Guard investigates sunken boat

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The U.S. Coast Guard is trying to contact the owner of a boat that sunk in Richardson Bay, a Coast Guard lieutenant said Wednesday afternoon.

KTVU's Skyfox helicopter spotted the sunken vessel off of Sausalito and notified the Coast Guard around 12:30 p.m., Lt. Jon Lane said.

The boat has a salvage buoy attached to its stern and it's possible the owner expected the vessel to sink, Lane said.

"It looks like an older boat without bilge pumps to remove the water from the heavy rains," Lane said.

The Coast Guard's incident management division was alerted and is trying to contact the owner, Lane said.

Wednesday’s rain and winds may be responsible for swamping the boat and at least one other in the North Bay as it can be a worrisome time to be a boat owner. Even boats tied to the docks can be vulnerable during stormy conditions. For those anchored offshore, it’s an even more precarious situation.

“I think everyone's been taken aback by how severe El Niño has been this year and we didn't plan particularly well,” said Joe Lemon. He knows firsthand— not only does he work at the Sausalito Marina, he lives on the water. “When you live on a houseboat you're just tied by ropes and so you're hopeful that you don't break free and end up across the Bay.”

That’s exactly what happened in March 2011 when several boats were torn from their moorings and ended up washing onto the rocky shores of Tiburon.

It’s one more reason the Coast Guard is urging boaters to be especially cautious.

“We're expecting heavy wind conditions and seas to approximately 20 feet tonight,” said Commander Matthew Thompson with U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard says the submerged boat spotted by Skyfox will be removed from The Bay on Thursday. 

The other boat sank earlier this week, while tied up at its slip at the San Rafael Yacht Harbor.

Often times the owners of the boats are nowhere to be found and they tend to go down with a lot of fuel in them, according to the Coast Guard. They said there were no fuel spills or injuries here and that the boats are likely resting on the shallow Bay waters.

The Coast Guard urges boaters to have a plan before they go out and wear life jackets and if you have a boat and don’t plan on going out, check on it to make sure it’s secure and not filling with water.