There have been 142 shipwrecks at one place on north Calif. coast
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  1. #1
    Jan 2010
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    There have been 142 shipwrecks at one place on north Calif. coast

    When I lived near Humboldt Bay (Eureka) California, I read a Coast Guard sign that said there have been 142 shipwrecks at the mouth of the bay starting in the 1800's. Humboldt bay is formed by two long isthmuses of sand that run north and south, from promontories sticking out above and below it. These form long beaches, each well over a mile long, with paved roads that run the length of them. All of the beaches are accessible from the paved roads. They have been used by many people for many years, for sport and for fishing.

    During WWII, the Army Corps of Engineers had to build two huge jetties of rock out into the Pacific Ocean as an approach to the bay, because the entrance had such massive currents flowing across it that it was hard for ships to even enter the bay - they were swept crosswise and were wrecked along the beaches, as they treid to enter the bay.

    But one warning from me: The Northern California coastline has what are called "Rogue Waves". They occur at periodic intervals, with no warning. My father was swept off the rocks by a rogue wave while fishing, many years ago, further south, and almost drowned. A couple years ago, a little boy playing on the beach to the north with his family was swept away by such a rogue wave and drowned.

    And I myself have been detecting down alongside one of those huge getties, on dry sand, for ten minutes, when a huge "Rougue Wave" flowed up the beach, and it picked me and my detector up and carried me flat on my back, inundated in cold salt water, about 50 feet further up the beach before setting us down again. Needless to say, my detector didn't work after that, and it was a high dollar detector too. It had to be sent back to the factory to be repaired. So never turn your back on the sea! It is historically very cold up there, so go prepared for cold weather.

    But those 142 shipwrecks had to leave some goodies behind. I estimate there are about four miles of beach to search, and the beaches are wide there. The shipwrecks included Navy ships and submarines and Coast Guard vessels from WWII era, plus all kinds of freight and passenger ships and sailing ships from years gone by.

    Dave T.

  2. #2

    Re: There have been 142 shipwrecks at one place on north Calif. coast

    Humboldt Bay was not used or discovered until the late 1850's, however, the Eel River, in northern Ferndale, was used for shipping access prior that period and probably by the Manila galleons for centuries.

    Typically, the Manila ships came straight from the Phillipeans to approximately the coast along Eureka and Crescent City...then traversed along the coast south to Mexico...

    And there are some of the worst seas in the Pacific Coast just south along the Lost fact, where the most recent 6.5 earthquake occurred...

    When you hunt any of the beaches, it would be a good idea to wear a life-vest...hell, even an anchor with 100 feet of rope to keep you from being washed out to sea...

    The problem with that area is that its so easy for hypothermia to set in because of the extremely cold water.

    I've worked some of the beaches west of Ferndale with not much to show for the work...the fire pits are the best bet...mostly beer cans, pull tabs, coat hangers and old rubbers.



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