Damage to boats in CA following Japan quake

One of the stories I see on CNN this morning is all the damage to boats in and around the Crescent City, CA and Santa Cruz, CA areas of Northern California due to the surge effects following the quake and tsunami in Japan yesterday.

What I don’t understand is, why is this happening? I understand that the people in Japan didn’t have time to prepare for what hit them, but in California, there was several HOURS warning. Wouldn’t a viable solution for all these boat owners have been to move their boats out to sea for a few hours so they didn’t get washed up on shore and/or smash into one another? Sure, some of them are owned by people who are out of town, are a considerable distance away from the dock, etc., but I would think the average person who owns a boat would live close to it to get maximum use out of it. Even the out of towners should have someone they can call to look after their investment in the event of an emergency like this. So when you get the call a surge is coming into your harbor in the next five hours, how is your response anything other than “Call work and tell them I’m going fishing today so my boat doesn’t end up smashed on the rocks.”

Re-read your own pot. Consider how many unsupported assumptions and “gut feelings” are in there. Now consider how they might be wrong.

Or consider that many of those boat owners may be in less than happy financial shape but have good insurance.

How often does one get to call a boat " a hole in the water that throws money at you"

Uh, o.k., I give up. Enlighten me on my unsupported assumptions and “gut feelings”. Let’s pretend I am a guy with a $100,000+ pleasure boat docked in Crescent City and I live somewhere in the Bay Area. I watch the news about a surge coming in five hours, and am concerned about my boat getting smashed against the docks or other boats. Don’t I take some action (assuming I am not using it as a chance to cash in on my insurance)? Wouldn’t this be doubly the case if I make my living with my boat as a fisherman/tour operator? Why leave it there and take my chances? For that matter, if I don’t take action, can my insurance company say I was partially responsible because it was a preventable accident and not pay?

There wasn’t THAT much notice. I live in the Bay Area, and by the time I heard the news yesterday morning, there was only a couple of hours until the Tsunami hit. Not nearly enough time to get to Crescent City, let alone time to take a boat way offshore.

There was enough time to evacuate the coastline, which is all we can reasonably hope for.

Anyone who has a $100,000 boat probably has insurance on it and/or the good sense not to take their boat out to sea when they know a tsunami is coming.

You want to take your boat out to see when a tsunami is coming, because a tsunami at sea isn’t dangerous. It’s usually not even noticeable. A tsunami on land, on the other hand, is.

You’d likely be SOL.

Driving there would be pretty much out of the question. It’s, what, 300+ miles up Hwy 101? Even if you ignored the speed limit, 101 was closed in parts between Eureka and Crescent City.

The only realistic option would be to fly, but I don’t think there are any scheduled flights to Del Norte County airport in the early hours.

This is so incredibly unlikely that it’s not worth hypothesizing about. Crescent City is not a tourist destination, it’s a depressed fishing/prison community six hours away from the Bay Area. (Or at least, it’s six hours away from me, and I’m at the northern edge of the Bay Area. I just googled it.)

If you want to use Santa Cruz as the hypothetical, the situation becomes a lot more plausible. Why did people not all take their boats out? I don’t know. Presumably they didn’t have the time, or they didn’t really think anything would actually happen.

If you lived in San Jose and tried to get over highway 17 the CHP had closed the highway to keep the lookie loos away from the beaches. My understanding is they also closed down entry into Santa Cruz and Capitola.

There’s probably some rule of thumb involved to figure out how far out you would have to go based on location. Looking at Goggle Earth you can see the differences in slopes between the area in Japan where the nuclear reactors are and Crescent City. The epicenter in Japan was about 15 miles from shore at a depth of 420 feet. In Crescent City the depth is 1200 feet at that distance.

Even in the best of circumstances, Santa Cruz is a pain in the butt to get to. The surge was predicted to be a few feet high, and Santa Cruz is known for plenty of it’s own weird weather- which these boats have presumably survived in the past. I imagine people just kind of hoped it’d be okay.

First, not everyone spends hours either on the web or watching TV news. It is possible that people didn’t hear about it until morning, when it was too late to do anything about it. Also, working hours precluded people from spending the day on the ocean. But that doesn’t address why those two harbors and not others.

Both Santa Cruz and Crescent City face south AND both Monterey Bay and the Crescent City harbor are large, lens- shaped and open-ended. The tsunami waves came from the northwest, curved around and were focused by the lens into relatively narrow channels. Also, there is an underwater canyon in Monterey Bay. The deep water is closer to the land than outside San Francisco Bay (which has a extremely narrow opening and large interior). Tsunami waves are inches high on the open ocean, piling up and reaching great heights when they reach shore.

Tsunamis are difficult to predict. The tsunami after the Chile quake was anti-climatic. People probably thought this one would be the same. The commercial fishermen couldn’t take any chances, pleasure boaters could.

It appeared from the pictures that some of the boats stayed in their slip while others broke loose. I suspect a little effort securing the boat went a long way.

And if you’re not 100% sure that you’ll be able to get your boat out to sea before the tsunami arrives? Then you’re going to be standing on your boat in the harbor when it hits. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk.

In addition to what’s been said above, the news (once people heard it) was advising small craft not to put to sea. The standard tsunami recommendation is that you’re pretty safe in water over 600 ft deep. However, it takes hours to get to water of that depth from most marinas, and you don’t want to have a bunch of people caught closer to shore (or still in the marina) when waves of difficult-to-predict height hit.

So aside from some naval ships (news footage showed one Navy ship that had been loading ammunition leaving Seal Beach) or other large vessels, it’s probably better to keep people from streaming into the harbors during a tsunami warning and the risks attending whether all those people will actually get to water of sufficient depth or not.

Example NOAA advisory from March 11 with 600 ft depth quote

I am coastal. I am a boater. I know that the overwhelming number of boat owners --including me – would not be able to get to their boats in a couple of hours. If a Nor’ Easter, Tropical Strom or Hurricane are coming… maybe half will tend to their boats.

I can see how a Tsunami warning wouldn’t get so many people to take out their boats.

Thanks for clearing up my ignorance on this. I had never heard this 600’ depth rule nor was I aware that taking your boat out was such a big deal. I figured if you had a boat docked in a harbor, it was no different than if you had a car parked in a parking lot, other than the fact it couldn’t go very fast in the marina.

I was visualizing a situation where I would watch the news as I was getting ready for work (as I was on Friday when there was five hours warning), then say “whoops, better change my plans for the day”, and have someone drive me to the dock and drop me off (so I didn’t have a car parked there which might also end up underwater if there was a big surge) and head a mile out to sea. I would think they knew the waves wouldn’t be that big by the time they hit such that the 600’ depth rule probably didn’t need to be applied. That said, inevitably, some moron would just be leaving the harbor when the surge did hit, smash his boat, and kill himself and others. Then somehow their next of kin would sue everyone from the marina to Governor Brown, to me, because we didn’t prevent this idiot from going out, and it would cost more in lawyer fees then it would to let all the boats get destroyed when they were empty :smiley:

Hell, I didn’t even know that tsunamis were “harmless” out at sea. I assumed they were a big traveling wall of water the entire time.

Although by “harmless,” doesn’t the water still speed by at tsunami speed, just all underwater? Doesn’t that hurt fish and stuff?

See, the problem with living in California is Californians. If you tell them there’s a tusnami coming, they rush to the beach to see it. If you tell them there’s a wild fire burning, they rush to see it. I’ll bet if the government announced a nuclear test, they’d camp at ground zero so as not to miss the blast.

A guy was killed in the tsunami in CA. He was killed because he went to the mouth of the Columbia river to take pictures of the tsunami coming in. He was last seen riding the surge out to sea.