The Morro Bay Harbor Department is looking to upgrade its fleet.
The department is teaming up with a community group called Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department to raise money for a new patrol vessel.
Bill Luffee, the president of the nonprofit group, is optimistic about the fundraising efforts so far.
“I’m hoping we can get this thing done by the end of summer. We’ve had to kind of rely on social media and mailers and so we’ve done that. We started about six months ago and we actually also did a live auction,” Luffee said.
At the live auction, one of the paintings, "Harbor Storm," was donated by local artist Ardella Swanberg and sold for $9,500.
So far, the fundraiser has yielded about $45,000 with a goal of $100,000.
“It’s kind of a new chapter getting our fleet updated and modernized and getting an older boat off the fleet,” said Morro Bay Harbor Director Eric Endersby.
Harbor Patrol carries out search and rescue operations as well as firefighting and helping boats in need of repairs.
But some of the boats on their fleet are over 30 years old.
The plan is to purchase a used vessel from Port San Luis and refurbish it to suit their needs, adding a second engine and converting it to run on diesel.
The State of California awarded Morro Bay $85,000 to buy the boat, but it will not cover the needed improvements. Patrol boats like the one they seek can surpass half a million dollars.
“So the cost of the boat is covered at this time from a grant and now we’re looking just to raise that money to retrofit it," explained Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly.
The improvements will give the boat more power and versatility on the water, which will allow the crew – a mix of full-time and part-time mariners – to assist people, wildlife, and boats in distress more easily.
The group and the harbor department are confident they will have the vessel by the end of the year.
The department hopes to have a fleet of two, two-engine, diesel-run ships moving forward.
You can make donations on the Friends of Morro Bay Harbor Department website.