In a scene that one local surfer described as “cool” and “unreal,” Santa Cruz County, Calif., sheriff’s deputies closed down a popular surfing spot that doubles as a nude beach, searching for pot smugglers who fled when their boat capsized.
The 20-foot boat, powered by an outboard motor, was capable of transporting “a few thousand pounds of marijuana,” Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Kennedy said. But investigators on the scene found only four 20-pound bales — and not even good stuff.
“This is lower grade marijuana than we see in Santa Cruz,” Kennedy told the San Jose Mercury News. The recovered pot has an estimated street value of $96,000.
The boat was apparently trying to make a landing on Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz, a spot known for excellent breakers that make it ideal for surfing, but which also has an area set aside for nude sunbathing and skinny dipping, at about 11 a.m. Monday. But it ran into treacherous waves.
The Coast Guard had issued a warning earlier that day about dangerous rogue waves.
Somewhere between the time witnesses reported a boat in distress and the arrival of first responders, the boat overturned, washed up on the beach and the crew made a run for it and vanished. The boat’s outboard motor broke off in the hugh surf.
“What they were doing in a shore break like that was a real foolish idea,” said surfer Dimitrious Nichols, interviewed by TV station KTVU. See the station's report on the weed boat, below.
Though the beach was cordoned off by sheriff’s deputies, some surfers took advantage of the having the beach to themselves and hit the waves anyway.
"It’s cool because there’s no one out,” said Duane Keyzer, a regular surfer at Four Mile beach, who watched at heavily armed deputies searched for possible crew members in hiding around the area.
“It was unreal seeing them in action,” Keyzer added.
In July, authorities seized 1,200 pounds of marijuana and arrested four smugglers at a different beach in Santa Cruz County. Investigators are looking into the possibility that Monday’s find could be part of the same smuggling operation.
They say that Monday’s shipment of pot was likely much larger than the 80 pounds recovered on the beach.
Sources: San Jose Mercury News, Santa Cruz Sentinel, KTVU TV