A Shipwreck at Surfside

Blue sky!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Yesterday had been pretty stormy–rainy with gale force winds–but today had blue skies. Not completely blue, but patches. Patches were good. Patches allowed some sun to shine through.

Instead of relaxing in my condo over breakfast, I grabbed my Napapajri wool sweater and headed for the beach. I had checked the tide tables the night before and discovered my walks along the beach had both been at low tide. I wanted to see the beach at high tide, which was first thing in the morning.

Sun highlights the wheat-colored grass along the dunes.I hurried down the hill and over the bridge to the beach trail. Sun highlighted the wheat-colored grass covering the dunes and deepened the ocean’s blue. I snapped a few photos with my iPhone and continued down onto the beach. Despite this being high tide, I didn’t notice much difference between it and low tide. Certainly not the extremes I’ve seen in Puget Sound.

I turned north to head up the beach, and ….


Something had washed ashore about a half mile up the beach.


It looked like a boat.

People were clustered around it, and a couple of trucks. But, it was still too far out in the surf for anyone to approach it safely.

I trotted down the beach the best I could in my hiking boots.

A shipwreck at SurfsideSure enough, it was a boat!

As I grew closer, I could see it was a sailboat, laying on its side. The hull was facing south, toward me, with the cabin facing north.

The hull looked intact, but the masts were down. One was hanging over the side with the sail in the surf. The cabin was missing a few windows. Some hatch covers were missing, as well. Curiously, the dingy was still firmly secured, as was a propane tank. I would have thought those would have been the first items to be ripped away.

There was no sign of anyone on board, and no one on scene had any idea what had happened. I hoped it had just come loose from its moorings in the storm and that no one had been aboard. I’ve been caught in storms in boats. I know that terror. As a child, my family and I were rescued twice. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anybody.

A view of the cabinI hung around for about a half hour. I wanted to get closer, to make certain no one was inside. But the boat was still in the surf danger zone. The tide would have to go out further before it was safe to approach. But, what could I do, anyway? Nothing more than anyone else. I was certain the authorities would have known about it by now.

I decided to head back to my condo. I could come back later. And maybe check online to see if anybody had posted anything.

After I got back to my condo, I posted a photo on Facebook. A few hours later, a friend posted a link to a news article. Someone had been on the boat. The owner had been out in the storm the previous afternoon when his engine failed. One of his masts had fallen, blocking his access to the cabin, so he was adrift without protection in the middle of that gale and the violent seas, about a mile off Cape Disappointment, near the Columbia River bar. This is an especially dangerous area, having claimed hundreds of boats and sailors. The Coast Guard had airlifted the owner, leaving the boat to drift in the churning seas, and it had come ashore here, about 20 miles north.

I’m glad the owner is safe. I hope he can rescue his boat. It looked well loved.