Salvage crews to remove capsized boat from near Bethel Island

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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KRON) — Salvage crews are preparing to remove the capsized boat “Spirit of Sacramento” from where it sank near Bethel island in eastern Contra Costa County in early September, the U.S. Coast Guard District 11 said.

The process will start on Wednesday afternoon. Salvage crews will lift the privately owned 85-foot boat using a crane mounted on a floating barge.

The vessel, which weighs 99 gross tons, will then be drained of water, re-floated and towed to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility in Sausalito, where its oil and fuel will be removed, Coast Guard officials said.

The boat, built to resemble an old-fashioned paddle-wheel riverboat, capsized at around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 4 near the southern tip of Webb Tract, just across from Bethel Island.

Two people escaped the boat unharmed using a dinghy. Guard officials still do not know what caused the wreck.

The owner, Samuel Rowles, was given a federal order to produce a fuel removal plan, but has yet to do so, according to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials believe the boat contains about 600 gallons of fuel, so crews will place 3,000 feet of oil containment boom in the water surrounding the wreck to prevent environmental contamination.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies are also helping in the salvage effort.

The boat used to be a commercial passenger vessel, but its most recent use was as a private recreational boat. More than one boat shares the name “Spirit of Sacramento,” Coast Guard officials said.

The cost of the salvage operation was not immediately available and it’s unclear how much of that cost will be borne by the owner.Bay City News contributed to this report.

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