Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shipwreck Pt.2

When Rescue 1, Ian asked if anyone wanted to jump on the sled, Kainoa jumped at the chance. (If anyone wants to see what this guy can do in big surf, just YouTube Kainoa Mcgee with Mike Stewart at Pipeline.) they took off and circled the boat as it bucked up and down about 45 degrees and was starting to swing wider and wider around the anchor chain that was losing it's grip in the storm. And there we were, as psyched as the cannibals in King Kong, insanely waiting for the boat to get driven into THE most dangerous, treacherous corner of shoreline on the south shore.
Lt. Ingram calls this area "hamburger hill" and rightly so. It is the corner that is made up of the very end of the sea wall that makes up the Ala Wai boat channel, joining at a right angle to the Levee that protects the Magic Island Lagoon. As a lifeguard, we all are certain of two things: 1)the waves break viciously and at their biggest heights out there, peaking over the remains of the extinct surf spot of lore known as Garbage Hole. and 2) on a 4-6 South Swell, you do NOT want to have to make a rescue in the is area; you will get very injured and the person your trying to help might have to be abandoned out of personal safety.
I really couldn't tell if the Boat was any closer as I watched Ian and Kaino blast thru all the chop out to the doomed sailboat, so I went back to the tower, 1 Golf, to get my berrings and sure enough, just as I lined it up thru the far left slot like rifle sight, it started to clearly move to the left and towards the jetty. I ran back to the point and there it was, a hundred yards closer and well inside the surf break. Now, the whole thing is unfortunately as foggy in my own memory as it was thru the rain, wind and white water exploding up into the air, but at some point, Jeff had sprinted back to get his camera and was now photographing. The jet ski had returned and Ian just let it float in the lagoon, parked safely while we all ran back and forth howling every time a peak broke into the abandoned sailboat, and in no time it was sideways and heading into the rocks. To me, what makes this side of the seawall so treacherous is that, on the lagoon side, it is a vertical, 10-15 foot high wall, but on the ocean side, the surf side, it is a classic, Scandinavian Dike, that is built for maximum strength and durability sloping down from the top at about a 30 degree angle down to the bottom, below sea level over about 15 meters.
So basically what that means to the poor soul who is trapped there is that climbing up the boulders to safety means getting grinded (hence the name Hamburger Hill) up like so much Starbucks Coffee du jour, escaping the jaws of the barreling wave that starts breaking out over the reef bottom.
Well, I confess to feeling a little guilty about how exciting it was to watch what used to be home to a wayward boat owner, getting crunched, bashed and rocked higher and higher up the levee making it all the way to the damn top!
It was a surprising display of Mother Nature, matter of factly perching a 37 foot sailboat up onto the Magic Island Seawall like a toy.

Well Jeff, the pictures you got were great, thanx for doing that, and we all kept saying we never saw anything like that. We got to watch a shipwreck from beginning to end, on a hunch that it was an accident, waiting to happen.
Such is Lifeguarding.


Anonymous said...

Is that top photo really from Hawaii or did you get it on one of your trips to Half Moon Bay?
Great photos.

wso2 said...

Back at work on Monday I watched the Boat owner and his salvage team strip down the boat still high on the sea wall.
I heard that someone actually tried to set the wreckage on fire over the weekend.
now that would have taken it to another level. And as I looked to the left over at the harbor, there was the other shipwreck, on the seawall protecting the last slip of boats, after the high tide picked it up off the Bowls reef and deposited it, in a suspiciously similar positing, some two meters away.