Duncan MacLean, please stop wrecking fishing boats

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I just now sent the following message to Zeke Grader by email. I hope he is able to keep Mr. MacLean from wrecking any more boats along our coast.

Mr. Grader is the Executive Director of THE PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION
OF FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATIONS, and, as I understand it, a long time friend of Duncan MacLean.

Hello Mr. Zeke Grader,

I’d like to relate to you my day, so that you will do everything you can to stop Duncan MacLean from ever captaining another fishing boat.

It is 9 pm and I just stepped out of the shower and my eyes are still burning from the fuel that coated me today as I wrestled in the surf with the remains of the fishing vessel Sea Biscuit, captained by Duncan MacLean.

Yesterday I received word that help was needed to remove debris from Pinnacle Beach near Bodega Bay. A fishing boat had wrecked and people wanted to clear the beach before the holiday weekend.

I drove up around 3 pm, signed in with the Surfrider people and hiked down onto the beach. My large pack full of wetsuit, booties, mud boots, bags for debris.

For an hour or two I ferried loads around a rock point so that a truck could come get them. 20-30 others did the same.

Then, as the tide became low enough, along with a dozen others, I pulled all manner of cables, fuel lines, electronics, hull pieces, fishing line from the surf. All of it coated with fuel.

I am told a helicopter will be on site next week to extract the engine, fuel tanks and other large items.

For a week now, dozens of people have cleaned up after Mr. MacLean, AGAIN!

I was witness to the results of his grounding of the Barbara Faye on 12 May at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. That cost the NPS over $80,000 of tax payer money. The coast guard, fish & game and others paid too. The fuel was pumped off the boat that time, I heard at a cost of over $20,000. This time, the fuel leaked into the sea. I saw the colorful sheen on the water, I feel it stinging my eyes as I type this.

Mr. MacLean walks away, maybe handing out a dead salmon to those that give him shelter or a ride. He carries no insurance, expecting others to clean up after him. He usually fishes alone for days at a time, see below for an idea of how he manages to stay awake for so long by himself.

This is the second boat Mr MacLean has grounded at Point Reyes. His first was near the same spot at Limantour in 2000.

I heard today that he has wrecked 4, maybe 5 boats in his time. I also heard that he has a drug problem. I spent 30 seconds searching the internet and came up with the article seen on the enclosed image.

The other images are from the 12 May, 2012 grounding of the Barbara Faye at Limantour.

You know this man Mr. Grader.

Please do what you can to make sure he can never do this again.

We can find other ways to buy a salmon.

He can find other ways to earn a living.

Our planet cannot endure more of his irresponsible actions.

Clearly, piloting fishing boats is not his forté.

Thank you for your time.

Richard James

Barbara Faye, the second time Duncan crashed a boat by this name on Limantour beach.

300 gallons of fuel that was pumped off the boat at great expense.

56 king salmon being hauled off the beach.

Some more images, these from Friday 31 August, 2012 as volunteers cleanup more from the wake of skipper Duncan MacLean.

And here is a link to many images showing the hard work citizens put in to clean up after Duncan.

Cea Higgins of Sonoma Coast Surfrider

Sparky the brown pelican

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NOTE: The following events occurred May/June of 2011.

©2012 Richard James

As some of you know, because I called you for help as the following unfolded,
today while picking up the beach I came upon an injured brown pelican.

Sparky, wings dragging

Both wings were drooping a bit as it shuffled off when I first came upon it.

Pelicans soar over the water looking for fish. When a fish is spotted, wings are tucked back, beak out straight, they dive down and hopefully scoop up a meal in their over-sized pouch. If they are not so lucky, they miss, take off and try again. If they are really unfortunate, they hit the surface of the water at the wrong angle and break a wing or two, or their neck.

This bird was dry and other than the dangling wings (which I believe were broken) looked just fine as it eyed me crouching 30 feet away, admiring the gorgeous lines and feathers. I dropped my bags of trash, sorted out my camera gear and crawled around, awed by the beauty of this enormous bird and recorded images. After shooting pictures of it for about 15-20 minutes, I asked the bird out loud if it wanted me to leave it on the beach or get help. Without hesitation, the bird walked 10 feet towards me and stopped in front of me, staring, blinking, waiting it seemed.

Question answered.

I stashed the large debris I had collected above the high-tide line behind a large log and stowed my camera gear for the hike out. I pulled out one of the large white bags from my pack that I use to hold litter. After straightening the bag so I knew where the edges were, I stood up and eyed the bird before me. I’d have to move quick to secure it.

Up til now, the bird had been very docile during the photoshoot. Now, as I quickly strode towards it, I presented the biggest threat it had seen from me and raised both wings up high and opened its’ razor sharp beak. Closing the distance between us rapidly, I gently draped the entire bird, wings, sharp beak and all within the bag and closed down on it.

Carefully I tucked the wings into their natural closed state. With wings secure, I made sure the beak was closed and wrapped my hand gently around it, then tucked the bird under my right arm and walked to pick up my small bag of plastic rubbish.

Hmm, now to get to my car with a very large bird under my arm.

I could walk south, then east to my car, nearly 2 miles, or, I could walk north about a third of a mile to Ben Davis’ place. I decided to walk to Ben’s and see if he would give me a ride back to my car. If he was not there, I’d walk down his long driveway to the road and hitch a ride back to my car, I hoped.

After walking, occasionally stooping to pick up trash and re-cradling Sparky as I decided to call this bird, I reached Ben’s place. All the way down the beach, Sparky was quite relaxed under my arm, hardly moving. Only when I turned away from the sea to scale the bluff did it become active and struggle under my arm, trying to free itself.

Looking up towards the house, there was Ben, Pat and their nearest neighbor Ernie Spalleta at the bench having a beer, it was Memorial Day weekend.

As I walked up, Ben called out my name to see if it was me, I said yes and that I had a favor to ask.

I told him what I had under my arm and asked for a ride to my car.

He instantly got up and said sure.

Hos tiny dog hopped into the pickup with me as I sat down and sniffed my bundle. Sparky was none too happy about this. I suggested to Ben we leave the dog behind. He handed it to Pat and off we went down the long drive to Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

On the short ride to my car, Ben related that in days gone by, pelican feathers were coveted for fishing lures called “hoochies” and people would often shoot them to get these sought after plumes.

Back at my car I thanked Ben as he drove off and re-wrapped Sparky and packed my things. The bird rested on my lap so I could secure it while I drove back to my place. Sparky left several chalky white deposits on my lap, seat and center console. For a bird more at ease soaring inches off the waves, riding in this noisy metal box was likely not all that comforting. My several calls to friends in the know led me to a place where they rehabilitate wild animals. I hoped they would be able to help out this gorgeous bird. Tiny mites crawled all over me.

Once home, I placed Sparky in a large plastic tub I found on Kehoe last year, covering it with two plastic screens I had also found washed up on local beaches recently. I weighted it all down with a large piece of anthracite I found 2 years ago and got in the shower to wash the bugs off. Being sure to strip my bug infested clothes off while out on the deck where they still sit.

I checked on Sparky as I left for the event I had to attend and there he/she sat, quite calm.

After returning I have checked 2 more times to see the bird has moved to a new position each time and seems to be resting peacefully.

I’ll drive to Wild Care in the morning to drop Sparky off and hope for a speedy recovery.


Above is all I wrote that evening.

I continued to check on Sparky every 20-30 minutes. Each time all looked fine as it crouched in the large tub acting as home until I could get it to the bird care place the next morning.

At 12 midnight I came out to find Sparky was lifeless, head slumped down on the floor.
I reached in and found the body still warm, rigor had not set in.

Although not surprised, I was still sad. I had hoped to get this bird to where its’ wings could be mended and it could be released. No more.

I later learned that large birds like this, once they break wings, can never be released to the wild. So it is probably for the better. No animals belong in a zoo.

The next day I wrapped the pelican body in the same bag as before and hiked back to the spot I found it. I unwrapped it and left it for the scavengers and elements.

The next day I returned to see what had become of my friend.

Each evening and morning, raccoons, skunks, coyotes and bobcats roam the beach in search of food.

Nature is so beautiful, no lies, no hesitation, no waste, no greed.

Below are some images of brown pelicans from over the years. Click on an image to see it larger.

For Kate

Mad ocean, foaming at the mouth

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The past few months have brought a never-ending supply of foam to the beaches at Point Reyes. Mostly polystyrene, though other flavors as well, all petroleum based.

This pile has been growing and shrinking for several months. I add to it that which I am unable to haul out at the time, then return later to pack out what I can.

I strive to get foam off the beach as soon as possible. Birds peck at it looking for food, harming themselves in the process, as well as breaking it up into smaller pieces for other unsuspecting animals to attempt to snack on.

This young elephant seal is still trying to figure out how to feed itself now that mom and her high-fat milk is gone. I hope it quickly learned that foam is NOT food.

The rough water of winter storms grinds it up and pushes it into the drainages that meet the beach.

Such a lovely sight in a national seashore!

This scene is reproduced all over the world each and every winter.

I spent nearly 2 hours picking up most everything not wood or sand in this image.

Foam does not weigh much, but it is big and bulky. Forty-five pounds or so on one’s back is like a spinnaker. Thankfully I had the wind at my back on the hike out and made great time.

The next stop for this load of man-made mess is the dumpster at Point Reyes headquarters.

I wonder where the contents of the dumpster will end up?

Remember, on this tiny planet, there is no away.