King tides bring the ‘First Ichimaru’ to Cannon Beach shores, prompting local agency action
The King Tides brought the natural spectacle of tidal extremity this past weekend along the entire Oregon Coast, just south of Cannon Beach however they brought something else in their midst, a 45-foot wreck named (in Japanese) the “First Ichimaru” decorated with barnacles and Japanese Kanji, the flotsam is a stark reminder of the power of the sea.
“The US Coast Guard reported a derelict vessel had come ashore between Hug Point and Arcadia Beach sometime around 2:50 p.m.,” said Ben Cox, Park Manager, Nehalem Bay State Park. “Ranger Ken Murphy responded and discovered a fiberglass boat lying on its top, covered in pelagic barnacles.”
Shortly thereafter a number of personnel were called to the scene to assess the flotsam. The US Coast Guard activated their HazMat team, Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue, as well as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Invasive Species specialists, and OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center were all on hand to assist with Oregon State Parks on how they would tackle the sizeable boat.
Jurisdictionally speaking the incident falls into the hands of the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation out of Nehalem Bay State Park, and since there have only been a handful of incidents like this in the recent past the procedure can be a bit cumbersome. First the Coast Guard has to ascertain whether or not there is any hazardous materials inside the craft, then ODFW and OSU determine if the object poses a threat to the surrounding environment. Finally after the green light is given the burden of removal begins.
“The boat is still there, it’s large and heavy enough that it is not believed the craft will return to sea during the next several tidal cycles,” said Cox. “We are working on finding a contractor to remove the vessel from the beach.”
Personnel from Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue were on hand as well to help cut into the hull in order to get a better view of what may be inside, as it turned out the vessel was devoid of any hazardous materials.
“Earlier this year we had a large sailboat wash up,” said Matt Benedict, Chief, Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue. “This boat is much larger and I can tell it will take a much larger effort to get it off the beach.”
According to Benedict one of the hardest aspects of deconstruction of the derelict will simply be accessing it as it currently lies about three miles south of the main access point in Cannon Beach, which driving on the beach is a fairly common activity for Parks and Recreation personnel, but timing the work between the exceptionally high tides the coast is experiencing right now may prove problematic.
“They’re going to have a hard time getting to the thing,” said Benedict. “It appears to me that the boat may be there for a while.”
It is currently unknown as to whether or not the “First Ichimaru” is a direct casualty of the 2011 tsunami that ravaged the coastline of Japan after a record 9.0 earthquake in the Sendai region, causing trillions in reconstruction costs as well as creating one of the most serious nuclear disasters in memory with the failure of the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power plant.
There have been other instances of larger debris washing up from the tsunami including a large section of industrial dock structure that washed up near Newport in 2012, as well as a small fishing boat in 2016.