Crews Begin Removing Wreckage of Boat Stuck in Point Loma Cave

A boat salvage company was finally able to remove a fishing boat that became stuck in a cave near Sunset Cliffs where waves battered it into the rocks.

A 26-foot fishing boat with two men aboard became wedged inside a cave along Sunset Cliffs, near the top of the Point Loma Peninsula, last Friday.

They told lifeguards they were returning from a fishing trip near Coronado Island and navigating with their boat in auto-pilot mode. When they woke up, they found themselves being pushed farther into the cave by the ocean, SDFD Lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky said.

High tides and strong waves have prevented the salvage company TowBoat U.S. from safely extracting the vessel this past week. Those strong waves have thrashed the boat into pieces on the rocks making it almost unrecognizable.

A 26-foot catamaran became wedged in the back of an obscured cave along the Point Loma peninsula. Lifeguards said they had never seen anything like it in their careers.

“It turns into a blender, a trash compacter. It just crushes everything in its way and it doesn’t stop,” Captain Tony Olson said.

The crew told NBC 7 the tide was finally low enough and the surf calm enough to remove large chunks of the boat on Friday.

“We came in with this canoe loaded up as much as we could and then we swam it back out to the boat,” diver Josh Nidzieko said.

They said removing what’s left of the boat is difficult even though the water is shallow now.

“It’s murky, you can’t see the bottom and it’s all sharp rock. Nothing in there is an even surface,” Nidzieko added.

Crews will continue removing what’s left of the boat over the coming week. Only after all the small pieces are removed will crews strategize a safe removal plan for the two remaining large pieces, the engine and a pontoon.

The cost of the removal process is expected to in the tens of thousands of dollars.

“It gets kind of gnarly going in and out especially swimming with the canoe. If you catch a wave wrong you’re going right into the cliff,” Nidzieko told NBC 7.

NBC 7's Audra Stafford explains how lifeguards rescued 2 men who were trapped on a boat that washed into a cave in Point Loma.
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