A man put out a distress call Sunday evening when the boat he was on in Richardson Bay, near Sausalito, suffered an explosion.
The 35-foot vessel, identified by the name Folie Douce, blew up in what the harbormaster has said was likely the result of a leaking propane tank. Rescuers from the Southern Marin Fire Protection District and U.S. Coast Guard responded to the incident, and were able to rescue the man, identified as Mark Culver, before the boat fully sank. Culver has reportedly been hospitalized.
The Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency (RBRA) reported on the incident, per KPIX, and it remains unclear whether Culver was the owner of the vessel. The boat was apparently identified as inoperable in a harbor census in 2019, but has been anchored in the bay for some time.
RBRA Harbormaster Curtis Havel tells KPIX that the cause of the explosion is under investigation, but he explained that leaking propane has a tendency to collect in the bilge of vessels like this, and can be ignited with a single spark, acting like a bomb.
Whoever owns the boat will be responsible for removing it from the bottom of the bay, and Havel added that some an abatement procedure needs to begin quickly to prevent leaking fuel oil or gasoline from polluting the area.
There's some suggestion from the RBRA that homeless people may be squatting on disabled or abandoned boats in the area, because there is apparently a "transition plan" to "connect vulnerable individuals on the anchorage with housing alternatives," in addition to setting anchor limits for disabled vessels like this one was.
Photo via RBRA