Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It has been just lovely in the Bay -- hot sun, sleeping with the windows open, all-fruit icees at Bakesale Betty, explosions of bloom everywhere...and a shipwreck from the 1800s surfaced at Ocean Beach yesterday!

Have I ever told you how much I heart shipwrecks, and old, mysterious, buried things in general? I must have watched every Robert Ballard special chronicling shipwrecks or settlements that are now underwater, I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau as a kid (or Marlin Perkins), I love old graveyards (goth cliche, I know), and I gobble up articles like today's news of possibly finding King Herod's tomb.

But old wooden ships, and their wrecks, ah...they are just so romantic. The Bay is a great area for this type of thing, not only as home to the greatest port cities in Cali, but also because of the history surrounding the Gold Rush.

It is a well-documented fact that scores of ships would sail through the "Golden Gate" into San Francisco harbor, only to be quickly deserted as the entire crew, sometimes captain included, jumped ship to try their luck in the mines. There were so many deserted ships that very often they would just be buried under new development, sunk or incorporated into the bowels of the structure rather than razed; I mean, check this map of ships buried under the blacktop and buildings in and around the financial district in downtown San Francisco. This is also a very good site for reading about the hidden treasures walled up under tenemant buildings or sleeping under the cars and apartments and noise and 5-star restaurants. Oooh, how it makes me squee with delight!

This ship that has yawned its way through the water and sand to expose its stern and bow at Ocean Beach wasn't abandoned. There is speculation it is the clipper ship King Philip...

On Jan. 25, 1878, [the King Philip] was towed by a tug through the Golden Gate, then laid anchor to allow the tug to assist a nearby vessel in distress, according to historian Stephen Haller. The anchor didn't hold, however, and the King Philip drifted onto the sand at Ocean Beach, where it foundered.

...but I would like to think it is the schooner Reporter, which has a much more romantic story attached to its demise.

Clipper or schooner, drifter or wreck, it is wonderful.

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