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Local News

High Surf Continues to Rock Santa Barbara County Beaches

Waves up to 10 feet hit local shores Wednesday; advisory lasts through Friday

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High surf has been a blessing for local surfers but a nuisance for some Santa Barbara boat owners, who have called for a tow or found their boat run ashore on East Beach.

Waves peaked at 6 to 10 feet Wednesday, the riskiest levels expected during the high surf advisory the National Weather Service issued this week.

The advisory, which began Tuesday and remains in effect through 6 p.m. Friday, was prompted by big waves pummeling the coastal areas of southern Santa Barbara County and further south — courtesy of Hurricane Marie, which was moving through the eastern Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s Baja California coast.

Forecasters expected damaging surf with strong rip current and significant erosion of south-and-southeast-facing beaches from Santa Barbara to Rincon Point.

An unoccupied 24-foot boat anchored year-round east of Stearns Wharf was thrown onto shore at East Beach just before high tide at 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to Harbor Patrol Supervisor Steve McCullough.

Harbor patrol has towed a handful of other boats into the harbor, including one small vessel that flipped overnight, McCullough said.

A swimmers-in-distress call Wednesday turned out to be unfounded, he said, since they got themselves out of the water.

Harbor Patrol closed the breakwater because surf spilled over onto the walkway. McCullough said a sign is up, but people could still go out, so he advised using caution.

A sailboat that broke loose from its mooring is battered by large surf at East Beach in Santa Barbara. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“The surf was picking up,” he said of high tide around 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. “Hopefully (the tide) starts backing off in the next 24 hours. It’s just a beautiful day for surfing.”

McCullough said Harbor Patrol would monitor conditions through the weekend.

Other areas of Southern California coastline haven’t been so lucky.

Port Hueneme Pier in Ventura County was pounded with historically high waves, knocking loose two support beams late Tuesday, according to the Ventura County Star.

Facilities officials there say the pier, which is closed to the public, could weaken enough to collapse if conditions continue.

The Malibu Pier was also closed Tuesday after a surfer was pulled unconscious from the water near Surfrider Beach just after high tide, later dying from his injuries.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department posted a message on Facebook warning local surfers who sought the perfect wave near UC Santa Barbara’s Campus Point.

“Hundreds of Americans drown in the ocean each year due to high surf, rip currents and other hazards. SBC reminds you, ‘When In Doubt, Stay Out!’ Please remember to only enter the water when it's safe, and you’re capable of handling the rough water, and you understand the risks.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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