A seemingly-straightforward tale of a salmon boat that ran aground on Ocean Beach has gotten a little more complicated, as news of an outstanding arrest warrant for the missing captain have led some to speculate that he's now on the run.

As previously reported, captain Timothy Lybrand and his 38-foot fishing vessel, the Paloma of Santa Cruz, left the SF Bay in search of Ocean Beach-area salmon at around 2:30 a.m. on Monday.

An hour later, the 51-year-old Lybrand contacted a nearby ship, saying his vessel had ran aground near Seal Rock and that he'd have to swim about 25 feet to shore.

Lybrand was never heard from again, though one of the Paloma's lifeboats was discovered, unoccupied, near Kelly's Cove.

According to Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Theo Vaughan, the Coast Guard and San Francisco fire crews searched for signs of Lybrand over an 18-square-mile area until noon Monday, when they suspended the search.

And now, the search and rescue might be turning into a manhunt, as Santa Clara County sheriff’s Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup announced Tuesday that a $75,000 arrest warrant was issued for Lybrand in May 2012 after he failed to appear in court following a 2010 drug possession arrest.

The news has some speculating that Lybrand isn't a victim of Ocean Beach's treacherous waters, as first assumed. After all, as Coast Guard Lt. Sean Kelly told the Chron, "the possibility that he could have swum in is relatively high," and San Francisco District Attorney Investigator Hansen Pang indicated to NBC Bay Area that he believed that Lybrand "may likely be hiding - not dead."

Adding fuel to the speculation fire: Coast Guard officials are now wondering why Lybrand contacted a neighboring ship instead of emergency responders when he found himself in maritime trouble, KCBS reports.

The Ocean Beach Bulletin found Lybrand's commercial salmon-fishing permit Tuesday night, which listed a Crescent City address, possibly that of the grounded boat's owner, who told KCBS that he hadn't heard from Lybrand, but who thought (mistakenly) that Lybrand was fishing out of Santa Cruz, not San Francisco.

According to NBC Bay Area, authorities have sought Lybrand in two addresses listed as his, one in Morro Bay and the other in Santa Cruz, with no success. But the Coast Guard isn't giving up on Lybrand just yet, Vaughan told the Chron.

"We'll try to locate the operator, and he will be issued a citation for abandoning the vessel....he will also be responsible for the costs associated with the cleanup operation."

Previously on SFist: Fuel Spill And Missing Captain After Fishing Boat Runs Aground Near Cliff House

[NBC Bay Area]
[SF Chronicle]