Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The "Run In"...by Jim Terry

Have you ever started out to do something with that ONE goal in mind and in the process you find yourself doing something entirely different?  This happened to me just the other day.

The “word on the street” at least here in Pacifica was that a pod of grey whales were “hanging around the pier longer than expected.  So I started out on a journey to hike up along the coast past the Pacifica pier in order to try and spot and see this pod of grey whales that are on their annual migration route to the north seas.  The weather could NOT have been more perfect that day.  With temperatures in the low 70ties and light breezes, who could really complain if they didn’t see anything either? I was out and experiencing nature.

Well as it turns out, I did not see any grey whales this trip but in the process, I ran into a bit of history.  And when I say, “ran into”, I literally ran into this item...see my eyes were consciously and continuously focusing on and evaluating the sea and not what was in front of me.  I obviously was concentrating on and trying to see that breech of the water’s surface by a whale and that magnificent sound once the whale’s spout opens to release the old air and intake the new.   

So “What was this item you ran into,” you might ask?

It was a seven foot 2000 lb anchor that was brought up from an old shipwreck.  The ship?  It was a four-mast sailing vessel known as the Brig Rolph.  The ship was named after the ship’s owner and the future Governor of the state of California….James Rolph.

In the year of 1910 the Rolph had departed from the San Francisco bay with a full load of freight bound for the warm plantations of Hana, Hawaii located on the island of Maui.  During the month of August, there can be very dense fog on the coastline in northern California and this is what blinded the ship’s crew and their understanding of where they were.  The Rolph was swept with the strong currents and rip tides too close to shore and was crashed into rocks at Point San Pedro only fifty feet from shore.   And interestingly enough, this was the exact same location that a ship, known as Drumburton, was wrecked only 6 years before.  Tug boats tried for weeks with high tide to remove the ship from the rocks but to no avail.  The ship was eventually stripped and salvaged for “useful” parts. 

Apparently at the time of salvaging this ship, they did not think the anchor of the ship was worth recovering. It wasn’t until 1962 that the Sea Lions Club raised the anchor and awarded it to the city of Pacifica.  The anchor now stands majestically on the footpath adjacent to the beach with signs of corrosion, wear and decay, but with a wonderful history behind it if only you take just a minute to brush away the sand on top of and read the plaque that is located on the ground just in front of it. 

So as I said…I started out to do and observe one thing and ended up doing something totally different.  And even though the site and sound of whales would have been amazing, I feel as though I did find and was able to experience something that can be just an interesting if only you use your imagination…Imagine if you will how remarkable it would be to see the silhouette a four-masted vessel being tossed to and fro in a lurking storm and the dense fog.  As you witness this, you hear the crash of the ocean's waves on the shore as your lungs are filled with that wonderful smell of a salty sea.  You then feel the cold and damp touch of the fog on your skin and the wind on your face and finally see that faint glimmer of light and hear the cry of the horn from a lighthouse warning captains of perilous rocks…not too bad right? I wonder if the old Nautical Proverb, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning,” would have applied on the day the Rolph set sail? Was the failure of this sailing voyage because the captain of that vessel didn't heed the red morning sky?  


Lastly I’m sure you’re probably asking yourself about any loss of life with this accident right?  You will be glad to know that this story has a happy ending in the fact that no loss of life or even injuries occurred with this accident…both the ship sinking and for this dummy that had the "RUN IN" with the anchor! 

Happy Tuesday and Happy Memorial Day weekend coming up!

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