Pacific Graveyard Week 2009

The Admiral Benson, just one of the many vicitims of the Pacific Graveyard.

The Admiral Benson, just one of the many vicitims of the Pacific Graveyard.

Re-printed from the Daily Astorian’s Coast Weekend website:
“Cape Disappointment State Park and the Columbia River Maritime Museum will celebrate “Graveyard of the Pacific” Weekend Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25, at locations throughout the Columbia-Pacific area. Activities include a sea shanty camp, maritime programs, maritime music, ranger talks and exhibits”
‘Graveyard of the Pacific’
Sea Shanty Camp of the Pacific
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

An Evening of Maritime Music
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

Both at Fort Columbia State Park, U.S. Highway 101, Chinook Wash.

Both free

” The Archaeology of Shipwrecks”

2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

Columbia River Maritime Museum, 1792 Marine Drive, Astoria

Free for museum members and free with paid admission for nonmembers

Bill Hanable Author Appearance

1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Cape Disappointment State Park, Robert Gray Drive, Ilwaco, Wash.

Center admission $5 adults, $2.50 ages 7 to 17 and free for ages 6 and younger

A link to the Coast Weekend article

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Columbia River Gillnetter

We have a little press courtesy of the CRFPU (Columbia River Fishermen’s Protective Union) for our lost fishing vessel list which is featured on Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard.
The Winter 2009 issue has nearly a page on the chart!

NW Limited...History in Vogue has the newest most complete shipwreck chart of the Columbia River Oregon and Washington coast

To have your issue mailed, subscribe or for other questions call 503-325-2702
For more information about the sunken ship chart, call 503-338-6056 or email

Dead Reckoning at the USCG Regional Exam Center in Portland

Hanging with the Coast Guard

Hanging with the Coast Guard

Thanks, Tony, for these photos of your new Dead Reckoning the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart hanging in your office at the United States Coast Guard Regional Exam Center in Portland, Oregon.
Tony has to say:
“Hello Bill,
Well I got my Dead Reckoning piece hung up in my office here with the Coast Guard Regional Exam Center in Portland; it looks really awesome and I am very pleased with it. Thanks! You did a great job on it.
Dead Reckoning office photo hanging with the Coast Guard
I have attached two photos of the piece on my wall; they aren’t the best photos as my office is some what small and hard to get a good shot, but at least you can get an idea of what it looks like; everyone here really likes it as well.

It was good meeting you and I hope to get down to Astoria one of these days again and will try to look you up if I can; you are also welcome to come here to my office in Portland if you would like any time.

Thanks again,
Tony Sellers”

Explore the ocean with your mouse

Thanks to help from partners BBC and the National Geographic Society, Google Earth 5 has created a map of the ocean floor.
It will be possible to monitor sea surface temparatures, explore the deepest depths like the Mariana Trench, to view shipwrecks like the newly-discovered vanished English flagship HMS Victory, and even to track individual fish.

Detail of Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard Columbia River bar portion - click for larger or see more at to purchase

So get out there and navigate the depths of the oceans!

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 10:29 am  Comments (1)  
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Beeswax Wreck on Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Oregon Public Broadcasting network is airing a feature about the Nehalem Beeswax Wreck on Oregon Field Guide. 
Click for link to video of the broadcast

Beeswax stamp from Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart

Beeswax stamp from Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart

If you haven’t already caught this episode, and are interested in learning more about Oregon’s oldest known shipwreck and its history, make sure to watch and familiarize yourself with this fascinating story about a Manila Galleon mystery. The links below will also provide more information.

Dead Reckoning the Pacific Graveyard slideshow, which includes clues to the Beeswax wreck mystery
Oregon Public Broadasting website
Search our blog for Beeswax wreck info
Beeswax project website
Scientists search for buried treasure off the Oregon coast article from their news feature in May of 2008

Oct. 25, 1906: Wreck of the Peter Iredale

On October 25, 1906, the bark Peter Iredale was wrecked on the Oregon coast at Clatsop Spit near

The Peter Iredale shortly after grounding in October, 1906

The Peter Iredale shortly after grounding in October, 1906

Warrenton attempting a Columbia River entrance.
The grounded ship was unsalvageable.
Over a century later, only her rusting bones remain.

Peter Iredale revealed by the storms of December. Photo taken January 2008 near Ft. Stevens

Peter Iredale in January 2008 near Ft. Stevens. The wreck is one of several hundred casualties of the Pacific Graveyard and appears as the most familiar landmark on "Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard" shipwreck chart by NW Limited...History in VogueTM.

Oft-photographed, endlessly visited by tourists, the Iredale’s weathered skeleton is testament both to the forces of nature and folly of man. 

There are countless more like her that have disappeared, shipwrecked forever by virtue of lucky salvage or the relentless pounding of waves, wind, tide and time.

Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” documents these, lifting them from conscious memory, and marking them in historic record.
Anecdotes from each wreck are provided, stories which are entwined in the foundation of a region rich with maritime activity.
As the newest and most complete shipwreck chart of the SW Washington, NW Oregon coast and lower Columbia River, it is also the most aesthetically-minded.
Printed on high-quality paper, the lithograph (detail shown below) is built to stand the test of time both as a collectible, historic tribute and an artful display. 
Dead Reckoning Shipwreck chart detail showing the wreck of the Iredale as well as several others at the mouth of the Columbia River click on the image for larger, readable version

"Dead Reckoning" Shipwreck chart detail showing the wreck of the Iredale as well as several others at the mouth of the Columbia River

For information on ordering a shipwreck chart directly from the creator, please contact or call 503-338-6056.

Conquering the (Columbia) River

Pacific Graveyard Week is happening now, and “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” is part of

Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard  $500 as shown

Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard $500 as shown

the happenings.
Bill has loaned the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park a sunken ship chart to be hung in the “Conquering the River” exhibit where there are historic artifacts from the area’s wrecks displayed in rooms overlooking the Pacific Graveyard itself.

Other events throughout the region include tours of North Head Lighthouse in addition to the exhibit at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center which will run through December at Cape D.

Ft. Columbia State Park is hosting a sea shanty camp on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ft. Stevens State Park in Oregon is hosting free, ranger-led talks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the wreck of the Peter Iredale.  The Iredale wrecked Oct. 25, 1906.

Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria  will host “An evening of Maritime Music,” featuring the instructors of the “Sea Shanty Camp of the Columbia,” at 7-9 p.m. Saturday. Admission for this event is free.

NW Limited…History in VogueTM
Dead Reckoning slideshow
Tours, displays reveal dramatic “Graveyard.”
Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment
Columbia River Maritime Museum

The Beeswax wreck: First European wreck on the NW Coast

From the
A public presentation by archaeologist Scott S. Williams

Monday, Oct. 20, 2008 at Noon

State Capital Museum and Outreach Center, 211 – 21st Ave. SW, Olympia
(360) 753-2580

Sometime in the late 17th century a Manila Galleon, carrying tons of beeswax and other cargo destined for the colonies of New Spain, wrecked on the Oregon coast near Nehalem Spit.
Clatsop Indian oral histories tell of the shipwreck and its survivors. Over time the Indians incorporated the cargo into their trading and daily lives. This presentation by Scott S. Williams (Cultural Resources Program manager at WSDOT) will discuss on-going investigations to locate the mysterious wreck and document it.

This public program is part of the “Adventures in Northwest History and Archaeology” series at the State Capital Museum.

Admission to each lecture is $2.

You are welcome to bring lunch. Coffee and tea will be served.

Oly Blog article
Dead Reckoning the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart at NW Limited…History in Vogue

162 years ago, the USS Shark

sank (Sept. 10, 1846) on the Columbia River Bar after spending several weeks at Ft. Vancouver.
The crew survived, but the Pacific Graveyard consumed the 86 ft. Navy survey schooner.

Click to see where to buy the whole thing!

Click to see where to buy the whole thing!

Pieces of the wreck were salvaged as far south as Arch Cape and as recently as Winter, 2008. (click underlined links to see previous articles about the Shark with pictures posted on this blog)
The history of this one ship has captured global attention, and reminded us all of our long-standing fascination with shipwrecks and maritime history.
While the carronades which were uncovered by the 2007-2008 Winter’s ravages are yet to be restored or fully proven to be from the Shark, they are periodically displayed at Nehalem Bay State Park in Manzanita, OR and have been the topic of historic presentations at local museums.


Fort Vancouver National Historic Site featuring an article on the Shark
Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard at NW Limited…History in VogueTM
Columbia River Maritime Museum

Tales from the chart – The Erria (interview by D. Kanally)

The Fire Aboard the Erria – December 1951
An Interview with Don Fastabend by David Kanally.
This interview and additional information on the Astoria Marine Construction Company and Joe Dyer’s boats may be found at Columbia River One Design
Original archival materials are stored at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, OR.
Photos courtesy of Cliff West.

The Erria under Tow after the fire was put out

The Erria under Tow after the fire was put out

(Ed note: On December 20th, 1951, the Danish Freighter Erria caught fire while anchored in the Columbia River along the shores of East Astoria , Oregon . Eleven souls were lost in the fire. Don Fastabend, owner of Astoria Marine Construction Company (AMCCO), was a machinist lead for the firm at the time, working at their Tongue Point facility. He was called, along with many of his colleagues, to help fight the blaze. His account of the dramatic incident follows.)

“The Erria had been in Portland and was headed out to sea, but the Columbia Bar was rough that night, so they decided to anchor in the river near East Astoria until things calmed down. About 1 or 2 a.m. on December 20th, they started to pick anchor and something went wrong. Some people believe that the wiring to the motor on the anchor windlass caught fire. That wiring ran through the #3 hold, and that was the worst burned of the whole ship.In any case the fire was discovered. Erria was a combination freight and passenger vessel, so there were crew and passengers aboard. They immediately launched the lifeboats and rowed to the nearby Coast Guard station. The Coast Guard and the Navy responded and squirted water on the fire for a while, but pulled off by 4 or 5 o’clock the next afternoon. The ship had listed pretty badly, and the fire was still going strong.

Smoke is billowing not from the fire, but from an auxiliary motor used to power the anchor windlass. Bob West photo, 1952.

Smoke is billowing not from the fire, but from an auxiliary motor used to power the anchor windlass. Bob West photo, 1952.

A salvage company was called in, and their representative, Captain Whitmore, showed up in town and inquired at the Chamber of Commerce, looking for which companies controlled the local labor market. AMCCO had about 400-500 people working then, so was a prime labor source. The word went out at the Tongue Point facility, “Don’t go home tonight at quitting time.”

Whitmore arrived on the scene at Tongue Point and began asking where CO2 could be obtained. We knew that the Navy kept CO2 in a hangar at Pier 3 at Tongue Point . So Whitmore called the officer on duty…it was the end of the day and all the brass had gone home, so the duty officer was probably an Ensign. Whitmore introduced himself as Captain Whitmore (a rank possibly attained in the Merchant Marine), but the young Ensign took him for a Navy four striper!So the Ensign called out the duty section and the CO2 was promptly delivered to Whitmore. This worked so well, that our boss, Johnny Cederberg, thought Whitmore should try the same tactic to get a vessel to carry the CO2 and the crew out to the Erria.

It worked again, and before we knew it we had a LCM 6 (a 56-foot landing craft) with fire monitors and a Navy crew!

The Erria anchored just off East Astoria. Bob West photo, 1952.

The Erria anchored just off East Astoria. Bob West photo, 1952.

We rigged up a manifold arrangement for the CO2 tanks that allowed us to change out tanks and keep the CO2 flowing. We journeyed out and came alongside the Erria. The side of the ship was just glowing red with heat in the engine room, where the hottest part of the fire was. We played water with the fire monitor on the side of the ship ’til it cooled enough that we could hold the bow of the M boat against it.

We burned a 3” hole in the side of the ship and started dumping CO2 inside the ship. By morning the engine room fire was out. We came back ashore for a while at that point, to get more CO2. There wasn’t any more from the Navy supply, but we knew there was CO2 aboard Navy ships, so we began “acquiring” more.

By about 8:30 or so, the Lieutenant Commander in charge of repair operations at the shipyard came up to me and asked me what we were doing, so I told him about what we were up to. He also wondered who the hell Whitmore was, and pretty soon, Whitmore was gone and they took the landing craft back and we all went home and got some sleep.

The next day we all met at the dock of Arrow Tug and Barge and met up with Mr. Martinoni, who was the president of the salvage company. He stayed with us until the bodies were recovered and the fire was put out.

We used a barge to haul pumps out, and we pulled alongside the Erria and began pumping water into and out of the ship. We’d feel along for hot spots, burn a hole and pour in water. The fire was mostly between decks.

I found the first two bodies by the doorway on the main promenade deck, two young women crew members.

The other people who died were sitting in chairs in the lounge just off the boat deck. We figured, since there was no power to the davits that the crew had to lower the lifeboats down to deck level manually, and these people were waiting for that operation to take place, and were overcome by smoke and gasses. One of them was trying to get out on his hands and knees, but got trapped in a corner. Another guy tried to go back to his stateroom to get something, and never made it back. We pretty much swept him up with a broom.

The deck was all teak, and heavily oiled, and there were a lot of hardwoods used in the construction, and lots of varnish, so that would make for bad fumes and gasses.

We only saved one hold, hold #5.

Eventually we got a lot of the water pumped out and the ship leveled out.

The Erria was quite a ship. She even had a swimming pool. One of the holds, hold #4, was refrigerated and was full of apples. The fire got into the insulation of the refrigerated spaces and caused us to wonder what would have happened if all those apples would have burst at once!

We all worked day and night, with not very much sleep, to get that fire out. I’ll never forget that I earned $600 the week of Christmas. And our normal wage back then was $1.85 an hour, so $600 was very big money for that time.

The Erria being towed by the Zwarte Zee. Bob West photo, 1952.

The Erria being towed by the Zwarte Zee. Bob West photo, 1952.

Anyway, the Erria was eventually towed to dry dock in Portland , to be completely checked out to be sure she was seaworthy to be towed back to Europe for rebuilding . She was brought back down to Astoria, and anchored at just about the same spot where the fire happened, while she waited for her tow by the tug Zwarte Zee.

The Zwarte Zee. Bob West photo, 1952.

The Zwarte Zee. Bob West photo, 1952.

She was rebuilt as a freight-only vessel and made it back to the Columbia River once that I know of. I remember one more funny thing: When we got to the crew quarters in the aft section of the ship, we found a stash of Danish 9% beer, which was pretty darn good. When the crew came back and found out what had happened to their beer, they were pretty mad at us, so we went out and bought them some Lucky Lager. They gave it one taste and weren’t very happy. They said “This stuff is like Kool-Aid!”
(and thank you) The original story hosted on Columbia River One Design’s website
Columbia River Maritime Museum