During my time as a commercial fisherman I had the dubious experience of weathering storms at sea. Once, while on wheel watch, I watched the sea explode when lightening head directly off the bow. But I was in blue water with plenty of sea room. I can’t imagine the gut wrench you’d feel coming out of a squall to see land ahead or the manic struggle to claw your way off a lee shore Lighthouses have saved many a mariner, and the North Head Lighthouse is no exception.
Behind the Photo
This was one of the moments that you really can’t plan for but have to take advantage of when it presents itself. I had framed my shot to show the lighthouse on top of the bluff with the angry sea below. A bit of the trees and branches from the headland I was standing on it give depth. Just as I had everything composed the sky opened up letting some of the setting sun to peek through and tinge the west with some color. Thirty seconds later it was gone.
The only sun I saw for the two days I was shooting on the coast.
Estimates place the number of ships to have been wrecked on this coast around 2000. And even after the North Head and it’s sister Cape Disappointment Lighthouses were erected ships still occasionally founder and are lost.
But take the case of the schooner North Bend. A 204’ schooner she was one of the last four masted vessels built on the west coast and to cross the Columbia bar. However, in January of 1928 she ran aground on Peacock Spit. Efforts to tow her off failed and evidently all her cargo was removed in an effort to salvage something from what was thought to certainly be a wreck.
However, after a year of weather storms on the spit she eventually freed herself into Baker Bay. Apparently the storms would wash away the sandy silt from around the hull and she would move ahead a few feet where the process would repeat itself. In this way she ‘walked’ herself to safety. She became know as ‘The Ships as Walked’.
Wonder how many other