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Storm takes bait and runs

Deke Wells, owner of the Mello Boy, poses for one last photo with his boat Thursday after the wreckage was towed ashore at Port San Luis. Taking the picture is longtime friend Ryan Myers.
Deke Wells, owner of the Mello Boy, poses for one last photo with his boat Thursday after the wreckage was towed ashore at Port San Luis. Taking the picture is longtime friend Ryan Myers. jmellom@thetribunenews.com

Salvage crews in Port San Luis recovered the wreckage of the Mello Boy on Thursday, the harbor’s only live-bait boat, which sank Christmas Day.

The salvage crews refloated the boat with pontoons and dragged the 42-foot, 15-ton vessel up onto the beach where it will be demolished.

Owner Deke Wells, 66, of Pismo Beach, said he will try to salvage what parts of the boat he can, but described the loss as catastrophic.

The loss of the Mello Boy means the port is without a crucial service, said Steve McGrath, harbor manager. A variety of recreational and commercial fisheries use live bait.

The harbor commission will hold a special meeting next Wednesday to decide how to address the problem.

“That is the question of the day,” McGrath said. “We consider live bait right up there with fuel, ice and other essential services.”

Wells said he is unlikely to get back into the business of selling live bait to fishermen.“It’s a sad day,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now. You don’t go down and pull a boat like that off the shelf at Kmart.”

The boat sank on Christmas Day and was further damaged in a subsequent storm, making it unsalvageable, Wells said.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

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