1860 Shipwrecks & A Cemetery in the Sand Dunes, Part I (short version)

Thick fog often hugs the rugged coastline near Point Ano Nuevo–but since 1872 the lighthouse at Pigeon Point has warned ships away from the nasty reefs that had once doomed many a vessel.

Before the lighthouse existed, many ships perished in the fog along that perilous coast, including the sailing vessels “Sir John Franklin”, “Coya” and “Hellespont”.

Without the warning beacon of a lighthouse, all three captains believed they were far enough out at sea, safely away from the spectacularly beautiful but dangerously deceptive coastline.

Carrying a cargo of pianos, dry goods and liquor bound for San Francisco in the winter of 1865, the Sir John Franklin lost her bearings in a dense fog and mopuntainous sea.

The weather cleared–but it was too late to save the “Sir John Franklin”. Caught by the fast moving breakers, the vessel screeched loudly as she slammed into the open fist of the reefs. Upon discovering a gaping hole in the vessel’s hull, all aboard abandoned ship.

The captain, first mate and eleven crew members struggled against the powerful surf but all met a watery death.

…To be continued…

Photo (1970s): courtesy Raymond E. Watson