Skip to main content

Several ‘challenges’ to salvage 57-footer

But after overcoming hooked and snapped lines, the salvage crew found only minor damage to the boat

But after overcoming hooked and snapped lines, the salvage crew found only minor damage to the boat

Putting the 57-foot Carver motoryacht onto the rocky beach of a California state park was not a challenge. The skipper, Dr. Mark Anton, and his companion were sleeping, and the boat found the shore by following its autopilot, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol.

But because the big, white fiberglass yacht had traveled across a rocky bottom before coming to a halt in the surf at the rocky foot of cliffs at Crystal Cove, the men the doctor called to haul his boat back to sea had several challenges, according to Robert Butler, head of Vessel Assist of San Diego.

Anton, identified by the sheriff’s office as a plastic surgeon with a practice in Newport Beach, and his companion, Andrea Seymore, had left Catalina Island at midnight Aug. 29, headed for Newport Beach, according to Sgt. Mike Jansen. Anton had gone to sleep while Seymore was supposed to be monitoring the boat, Jansen says. But she, too, fell asleep and both awoke at 1:30 that morning just before the boat hit the beach, he says.

“The owner called Vessel Assist,” Jansen says. “He didn’t notify us.”

Butler says he got a call from Anton at 3:45 a.m., and reached the beach at the first light of dawn. He says Anton told him the boat, called Fin Yacht, had 200 gallons of fuel in its tanks. Because of the seaside cliffs that rise abruptly from the beach and are capped by homes, Butler says, salvage from the shore was impossible. “The last six yachts to go aground in that area came out in dumpsters,” he says.

Despite concerns from local officials that towing the boat off the beach would risk causing a fuel spill, Butler says he was convinced the safest route was to refloat the boat. A survey found that the boat had been damaged crossing the rocks leading in to the beach, and it was taking on some water. Pumps were started and the salvage crew waited for the tide to rise its maximum of 1 foot.

Then, in a 2- to 4-foot surf with occasional sets of 6 feet, Butler had a diver attach a line from a 900-hp towboat to the yacht, the bow of which was pointing toward the beach. “My [towboat] captain held tension on the line while the tide was coming in. Our whole idea there was to let the surf float the boat and then turn the boat into the surf,” Butler says.

At one point, the 700-pound towline snapped after chafing on rocks. Then a bridle got tangled under the boat, requiring the diver to clear it. Then the towline hooked under a rock. Once it was released by the diver, the salvage crew needed about an hour to turn the boat out to sea, in increments with each swell of the surf, before it could be towed to a repair facility. Butler says the salvage was completed without a fuel spill and the boat appeared to have only minor damage.

Jansen says no charges will be filed in the case. “This goes down as a vessel accident,” he says.