California State Parks rangers found the abandoned boat split in half on rocks near Point Mugu northwest of Malibu, said Lindsey Templeton, a superintendent for the park system said. About 240 gallons of fuel and marijuana packaged in burlap bags were discovered.
High tide, waves reaching 6 to 9 feet and "probably a lot of misjudgment by the cartel operating the boat" led to the crash, Templeton said.
"Obviously they didn't check the surf or they risked it anyway," he said.
Authorities warned swimmers and surfers to be careful because of high waves and strong rip currents that hit Central and Southern California through the day. Waves of up to a dozen feet were seen from San Luis Obispo to San Diego counties, the National Weather Service said.
Lifeguards conducted dozens of rescues. High surf also caused some damage the Ocean Beach and San Clemente piers, the weather service said.
The Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing body-boarder after a fruitless overnight hunt that covered 78 square miles of ocean. Jowayne Binford, 24, of Long Beach, was with three friends when he disappeared Wednesday evening about 200 yards off the Surfside area of Huntington Beach, Coast Guard spokesman Trent Kelly said.
An air and sea search failed to find any trace of Binford, Kelly said.
Binford and his friends had gone into the water despite a warning that the lifeguard station was closing for the night, a witness said.
The lifeguard "didn't order them out of the water. He said you need to stay close to the shore for your own safety," Mike Spainhower told KCAL-TV.
In the area and around the time that Binford disappeared, there was a rip current caused by a winter storm in New Zealand that roughened seas along central and Southern California.
Rip currents are strong channels of water flowing out to sea that quickly exhaust swimmers who struggle against them. Authorities recommend that swimmers caught swim parallel to the shoreline until they are out of the current.
"We could tell yesterday the waves were getting a lot bigger and the current was getting strong. The yellow (warning) flags were waving," said Rhonda Selmanson, who has lived in a seaside home at Sunset Beach for three years.
She helped search for Binford along the beach.
"You can't underestimate the power of the water," she added. "Even good surfers and swimmers as we are, a lot of times we know it's just not safe."
To the delight of surfers, occasional 20-foot waves slammed into the Wedge, a popular body-surfing spot at Newport Beach in Orange County.