Boat Creep Again Overtaking Cuesta Inlet

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

November 4, 2021

This photo of the Cuesta Inlet in Los Osos shows some of the 570 kayaks, canoes, skiffs, multiple hulled and day sailors currently left at the inlet. Celebrate Los Osos plans on Nov. 13 to inspect and potentially remove any boat that is out of licensing (with the DMV), ruined with holes in the hull, not marked with ownership identification or otherwise abandoned. Photo by Pandora Nash-Karner

Boat creep is once again overtaking the Cuesta Inlet and a beautification group is once again planning a big cleanup day, and inspecting every one of the hundreds of vessels being left on what is private property.

Pandora Nash-Karner, who is with the Celebrate Los Osos said the Cuesta Inlet has again been flooded with abandoned boats. “The property is private,” she said in a news release, “and the owners do not mind if people use the land to store boats if they are being used, however, they do want the boats to have current registration and contact information. For the gift of easy access to the bay, it’s not too much to ask.”

Nash-Karner said she and Lynette Tornatzky recently counted the boats at the inlet and found, “364 kayaks; 119 canoes; 32 multi-hulls; 17 mono-hulls (sailboats, two without any rigging); one trimaran without any ID or license; one outrigger canoe; 26 dinghies/skiffs; eight standup paddle boards (SUPS);one absolute wreck; and one abandoned multi-hull on a trailer, for a total of 570 vessels.”

The 570 count is more than double the number of boats at the inlet when they first conducted a cleanup over a decade ago.
“Celebrate Los Osos’ first clean up was in 2010 and involved 286 boats,” Nash-Karner said. “We’ve cleaned up the inlet nearly every year since. Our last cleanup was in 2019, pre-COVID and there were just over 400 boats.”

“Volunteers are needed on Saturday, Nov, 13 to inspect, inventory and post the boats at the inlet,” Nash-Karner said. They need 30 people “to help in this process which should take about 1½ hours. “

Anyone who is interested in helping out should contact People wishing to volunteer for the Cuesta Inlet cleanup can email Ellie Malykont at: MEPPS@Charter.net or see the website at: Volunteer@CelebrateLosOsos.org.

Anyone with a boat down there who doesn’t want it to be removed and junked, needs to go down there and clearly mark the boat in paint not Magic Marker, with name and contact information (phone number). And all boats that require a DMV license needs to be currently registered.
Volunteers will inspect every boat at the inlet, Nash-Karner said, looking for the two things that would allow the boats to be in compliance with the owner’s request — current boat registration if applicable, and contact information.” It’s recommended owners use paint to mark their boats and not an ink marker, as that fades quickly and the information becomes unreadable.

They plan is to remove any obviously abandoned or ruined boats, like any with holes in the hulls, on the 13th, but they mainly want to post all the boats without ID or licensing. Nash-Karner was trying to arrange for the Grizzly Academy cadets to assist with the heavy lifting, and she said if they are available, would remove the derelicts on the 13th.

Whenever the move out happens, the cadets will move them to an area on Doris Avenue before they end up in a landfill.
“Notices will be taped to all boats out of compliance and request that contact information be placed on the boat with something permanent other than ‘permanent’ Magic Marker, which is not,” Nash-Karner said.

“Celebrate Los Osos’ first clean up was in 2010 and involved 286 boats,” she said. “The following year, more boats showed up, and they were tagged and towed too. In 2012, with the assistance of the Grizzly Academy there was a massive attempt to clear out abandoned boats.”

There are signs posted around the inlet listing the rules and there is a County Ordinance that allows abandoned boats to be removed. Abandoned boats can be removed by the property owner after 60 days under County Code Section 8.24, which allows ‘abatement and removal as a public nuisance of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled and inoperative’ vessels, Nash-Karner said. “Owners could also be on the hook for the costs to remove your boat, if it should come to that.”

Or the property owners could put up a fence around their property and not let anyone store any boats there, something Nash-Karner hopes to avoid.
“It’s such a gift for local bay users to be able to leave their boats at the inlet — for no cost — and be able to launch easily,” she said. “There are currently 570 boats at Cuesta Inlet, many are not in compliance and eight are broken or have holes in them.”

The group has worked hard to keep the inlet open for the public to use, as it’s been for many decades. Celebrate Los Osos Board member, George Kastner, said, “After all the years of public outreach about the rules at Cuesta Inlet, it is disappointing to see so many people taking advantage of the storage and launching privilege but not complying with the owner’s requests.”

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