One dock, with close to 40 boats, was ripped out during the surges. So far, they found 18 vessels "sitting on the bottom," creating an environmental risk from leaking fuel, Ekers said.
A dock-load of high-end rowing boats and kayaks also was washed away, and dozens more boats that smashed into each other or were hit by debris, would need major repairs.
Across the ocean in Hawaii, the waves damaged at least 60 homes, sank up to 15 boats, and battered hundreds of vessels. But authorities said they were thankful there was no loss of life or injuries reported; residents had hours to prepare or evacuate as the tsunami rushed from Japan at 500 mph.
Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said that in addition to evacuating residents in low-lying areas, his officers had to do crowd control as townspeople gathered to watch the swells.
"A tsunami watch doesn't mean go watch the tsunami," he said.
On a boat ride through the harbor, Assistant Harbormaster Larry White pointed to buckled piers, snapped masts and hulls of flipped boats bobbing in the brown, pungent water, which rose and fell in usually strong swells generated in Japan.
He shook his head, remembering the moment when the tsunami first sucked the water out of the harbor out to sea — a sudden 9-foot drop.
"It was like the earth opening up," he said. "It was incredible."
Associated Press writer Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz, Calif., contributed to this report.
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