Fog stymies search efforts for missing crab fishermen

The samefog that blanketed the Peninsula for much of Wednesday sank search efforts for two crab fisherman possibly lost at sea more than three miles from Pillar Point Harbor after the pair ignored weather and surf warnings the day before.

U.S. Coast Guard and San Mateo County Sheriff’s officers called off search efforts for San Leandro residents Ben Hannaberg, 58, and Jim Davis, 57, or their 25-foot fishing boat the Good Guys on Tuesday at 10 p.m. They resumed a search early Wednesday morning before the fog halted aerial searches again just before 9:30 a.m.

Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Anya Hunter said debris — possibly from the boat, including two tan-colored 2-by-3 panels of fiberglass — was located, along with the boat’s radio beacon. The beacon could not be recovered, but the panels and other debris were sent to Alameda for investigation.

Sheriff’s officers were still hoping to patrol the area from the air but are waiting for conditions to clear.

“If it clears, we’re going to put one of our own aircraft up,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Linda Gibbons said.

Deputy Harbor Master Cary Smith estimated that visibility on the water was between 50 feet and a half-mile through Wednesday, and although conditions had improved over Tuesday, they were still not conducive to a safe, effective search.

“We’re just all devastated — there’s a somber feeling over the entire harbor,” he said.

Gibbons said State Parks crews and deputies combed the beaches between Pillar Point and Miramar for any sign of the boat, which was reported missing just before 2 p.m. on Tuesday after another vessel traveling with them lost radio and cell phone contact.

Smith said he believes the two boats were the only vessels other than surfers’ personal watercraft that left the harbor on Tuesday, due in part to rough surf advisories and warnings posted around the harbor.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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