The 17-foot boat was found around 1 p.m. adrift about 8 miles south of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay.
A Coast Guard cutter is now searching for Tuan “Tom” Tran, who is predicted to have been operating the vehicle. Harbor personnel found one boater unresponsive earlier in the day near the adrift vessel, which was reported to have two people aboard, including Tran.
When officials originally found the fishing boat, it was spinning in circles out of control.
“Once you lose control of the helm, boats are designed to circle,” said Sgt. John Gonzales with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s a steering mechanism. It kind of pulls forward. It pulls to the right or left and it will stay in that circle.”
Officials let the boat run out of fuel before they were able to safely approach it. Officials then towed it to a nearby harbor as part of the investigation.
Gonzales said boat incident appeared to be an accident, but authorities wanted to check to make sure “everything is fine.”
The Deputy Harbormaster believes neither of the two people on the boat was wearing a life jacket.
“I’m not sure if they would have survived in this situation,” said Cary Smith. “But certainly, they would have had their heads above water or long enough for somebody to have seen them.”
Coast Guard officials searched for Tran into Sunday night and planned to continue the investigations into Monday.