gaviota pier boat launch destroyed

Gaviota Pier Boat Launch Destroyed By Storm, One Hoist Remains

The Gaviota Pier is a popular boat launch location in a state park between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, California. It is not uncommon to see families enjoying the beautiful sandy beaches in Gaviota state park and launching fishing boats from the pier. A devastating storm recently changed all of that.

In a storm that slammed into Santa Barbara, the Gaviota Pier was demolished by wind and waves, leaving only one boat hoist remaining. The concern now that the storms are over is that the structure of the pier has been so damaged that it may not be salvageable. Gaviota Park Ranger Dustin Patterson told the Santa Barbara Independent, “Once the [tide] level drops enough the surf will start pounding the outer pilings with more force than when the waves broke further onshore.” Already missing one quarter of what used to exist, the final boat hoist could be the last thing to go.

The highlight of the Gaviota Pier for many families was the boat launch. One of the few piers that guests could put in and out their fishing boats on their own, it is a popular destination for locals. One local man happened to be out near the pier on Saturday morning with his daughter when the destruction occurred. Solvang resident Jack Crouch told KCOY 12 that he was on the pier just moments before the collapse.

“We started noticing the pier was shaking and swaying back and forth, so we left the pier. I stayed for one more big set of waves and then we ran. It was kind of scary.”

The Gaviota Pier boat launch is just one of the features of the state park that will now take time for crews to repair. A bigger devastation may be the formally sandy beaches. Pictures show the sand almost peeled back from the storm, exposing a layer of cobblestone and bedrock for miles. The coming weeks will be full of work for repair crews, as the Santa Barbara beaches offer some of the favorite fishing locations.

Three quarters of the pier still remains, but the part that is gone was most used for fishing and boat launches. There is no word yet on how quickly repairs will be made to the last quarter. For now, the Gaviota Pier remains closed, though locals are hopeful they will be able to launch boats from there again soon.

[Image via kevinalanbaum on Flickr]