The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. discovered an abandoned panga boat off the county’s coastline, the second craft of its kind found in the region this year.

Deputies, the U.S. Coast Guard and Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol personnel recovered the boat after receiving numerous calls reporting the vehicle off Fernald Point in Montecito. Authorities found the empty boat approximately 200 yards off the coast as well as several life vests on the shore nearby, suggesting the passengers made it to land.

Pangas are small outboard-motor boats capable of traversing the open ocean and carrying heavy loads. Their features make them popular with smugglers running illegal immigrants or contraband materials across the Mexico and U.S. border.

The SBCSO asks the public to keep an eye out for suspicious watercraft off the coast. People can direct reports of craft sightings to the SBCSO at (805) 681-4100 or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 24-hour toll-free tip line at (866) 347-2423.

—Staff Report