Saturday, October 10 , 2015, 7:57 am | Fair 64º

Double Dolphin Freed After Getting Stuck In Harbor Entrance

Sand build-up from recent storms snags 50-foot catamaran that provides coastal cruises and whale watching

Harbor Patrol officers help free the Double Dolphin catamaran Friday after it became stuck on a sandbar at the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Harbor Patrol officers help free the Double Dolphin catamaran Friday after it became stuck on a sandbar at the Santa Barbara Harbor.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

The Double Dolphin got stuck while trying to sail out of the Santa Barbara Harbor on Friday, but was able to get back to its slip after unloading passengers.

Because of last weekend’s storms, the entrance is sanded in, and has a smaller channel than ever, Harbor Patrol Officer Erik Engebretson said.

It hasn't been dredged yet. 

The Double Dolphin, known for coastal cruises, misjudged one of the buoys, got it caught in the prop, lost power and ran aground, he said.

Harbor Patrol boats tried to budge the boat, but ended up unloading passengers so the 50-foot catamaran could head back to the harbor.

“It’s not the best time to go, right at low tide, when the deepest amount of water we have is 5 feet at that time,”  Engebretson said.

The channel has strong currents, too, which can push the boats into the buoys, he noted.

Crew members on the Double Dolphin said they have another cruise scheduled for later in the day, at higher tide.

While dredging equipment is stored locally, the city has to wait on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the actual dredging. The dredge is expected to get started by Saturday, according to the Harbor Patrol.

Harbor Patrol boats haven’t had to rescue anyone else this week, but have pushed or pulled a few boats that bumped the bottom, Engebretson said. Most of the larger boats aren’t going out.

There are no restrictions, but the Harbor Patrol would advise waiting for dredging unless someone absolutely has to get out. Several fishermen were going out to pick up lobster traps on Friday.

“In a perfect world we’d say no, don’t go out, better safe than sorry – but time it for high tide,” he said.

Other commercial cruise boats have been waiting for dredging. The Condor Express hasn’t gone out all week, but expects to start tours again this weekend.

Friday’s interrupted cruise was another blow to the Double Dolphin, which has had a rough week. 

It was set adrift Tuesday morning, and police arrested Phillip Everett Conway, 21, for grand theft after they found him inside the boat as it floated toward the out part of the marina.

Damages were estimated at $1,000 to $3,000, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Authorities say the man didn’t give a reason for untying the sailboat and may have been suffering from a mental illness.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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