Empty panga boat discovered near Cambria

Second such craft found this year on local beaches probably carried only people because of its layout

cambrian@thetribunenews.comFebruary 23, 2014 

An empty panga boat, thought to have been carrying people, was discovered Sunday morning on a beach north of Cambria.

A call reporting the boat just south of the mouth of San Simeon Creek came in at 7:15 a.m., the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said in news release.

The Sheriff’s Office said the abandoned boat was likely carrying people, not narcotics, because the boat did not have the storage space for narcotics such as marijuana, which is typically found on such vessels.

Deputies checked the Cambria area for vehicles and suspects possibly associated with the boat, but as of 6 p.m. Sunday, no arrests had been made nor narcotics discovered, according to a Sheriff’s Office watch commander.

This is the second panga boat found along the San Luis Obispo County coastline this year. In January, authorities found a 45-foot boat carrying 4,400 pounds of marijuana on an Estero Bluffs State Park beach near Cayucos; it was the largest such boat ever found in the county.

Since 2012, 12 panga boats have been found along the local coastline. Sunday’s is the first that was not thought to be solely transporting narcotics.

This month, a 36-foot panga boat was discovered at a beach at Garrapata State Park in Big Sur. That boat, found the morning of Feb. 15, was believed to have been used to smuggle thousands of pounds of marijuana, according to The Monterey County Herald.

Smaller versions of the panga boats that have been found along California’s coast are commonly used for commercial fishing in developing countries, but the larger boats are frequently used to transport contraband from Mexico to the United States.

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