Even in July, the waters of the Pacific Graveyard can be lethal.
July 11, 2008. The sun shines warmly, winds are calm.
The river is smooth like a peaceful lake.
Columbia River Bar Pilot boat Columbia
Large ships glide along the channel which is now amply marked for safe navigaton.
Tugboats traverse around them, and swift pilot boats designed to deliver a different captain for every portion of the journey maneuver for fuel refills, now staged to fulfill their job.
Pleasure fishing boats also ply the waters and flit back and forth at a whim.
Presiding over them all, the relatively new Megler bridge which was finished in 1966.
The Astoria-Megler bridge spans the Columbia River from Astoria, OR to Megler, WA
The United States Coast Guard is also nearby with boats and the occasional helicopter, carrying out practice maneuvers, or just keeping an eye on the unusually heavy traffic.
Beneath this idyllic scenery, the miscellaneous remains of more than 2000 ships, boats, and many of their passengers, crew and cargo have become part of the unseen, the ominous reminders of epic losses, or chance misfortune.
Some July entries from “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard:”
“Curacao -7/12/1940- Steamer: A boiler explosion sends her to a river tomb”
“Zampa -7/14/1904- Schooner: Dead Reckoning into the Pacific Graveyard”
Perhaps the most historic of them:
“U.S.S. Peacock -7/18/1841- Sloop of War: “Clear that white water” orders young Lt. Hudson as a shifting channel sets the ship amiss and strikes the bottom hard. “Man the pumps,” Hudson barks as an ebb tide secures the wedged ship for a constant pounding! “Remove yourselves and all pertinent papers”. The Lieutenant fears the worst and within 24 hours the ship is gone and the sandy tomb is renamed Peacock Spit!”
Though these ships have passed into history, you will find recognition of them and hundreds more on NW Limited…History in VogueTM
‘s shipwreck chart.
River and mouth of bar detail of Dead Reckoning
The Columbia River bar at sunset as a ship heads over a calm bar
Purchase a Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart
History Link Online Encyclopedia of Washington History
Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon