Coastside WWII: South Coast Tunnels

Bobbi Ballard Pimentel remembers:

My Dad, Robert (Bob) Ballard was born in Pescadero along with 11 other brothers and sisters….he took me to the tunnels on several occasions and told me that they were used to store guns and ammunition during the war. He helped ‘build’ them. I do not recall where the others were although I do remember that they were mostly on the water’s edge, but there were tunnels and observations points high above Gazos Creek…there was a military facility there too. That, my husband and I discovered in the early ’60’s that there is (or was ) a missile base in the Santa Cruz Mountains…we found it by accident while on a Sunday drive with our first child…Dad had a lot of memorabilia that he received from the military personnel stationed in the Pescadero area…When the troops left the area (I was very young at the time..(born 6/6/42)…they left a Springer Spaniel dog behind…he became my pet…Billy.


Peering into a South Coast tunnel, photo by John Vonderlin

The Wrack is Back….Story & Photos by John Vonderlin

The Wrack is Back

Story & Photos by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

The wrack is back. Actually it’s been back since April 1st. After the April Fool’s trip to the tunnel that isn’t there, and the sea arch that was, we decided to do one of our regular Invisible Beach checks.

We didn’t have any expectations as there hasn’t been any action from Neptune’s Vomitorium in about six months, and the ocean was as calm and wave-free as I’ve seen since last fall.

Surprise! A substantial pile-up of fresh wrack was on the beach above Neptune’s Vomitorium

with more stuff coming ashore.

Greedily gathering every treasure visible in the huge pile, we filled a very large bag. Taking it home I sorted, photographed, washed and stored away our bounty for future use. This first “cream of the crop” selection was definitely “high grade” as we say in the Marine Debris world.

I’ve returned three more times in the ensuing weeks and captured the debris released by the disintegration and decay of the wrack. Each time, I gathered a substantial, but decreasing, quantity of “lower” grade debris. It looks like the “lastawrack” time will happen soon, and we’ll have to be patient until this natural wonder visits once again. Enjoy. John

The Crimes of Half Moon Bay…..? By John Vonderlin


Hi June,

J‘Accuse!,” my friends in Half Moon Bay.

Yes, I accuse your fair city and its residents and visitors of being responsible for the enormous amount of non-buoyant marine debris making the southward “Silent Procession” of which just a small portion is spit out by Neptune’s Vomitorium onto Invisible Beach. Through the carelessness of your industries, your recreational activities, and your improper disposal of no longer wanted items you are turning the ocean into a gigantic trash can. While it was the tracing of the golfballs and their remnants to the Ritz Carlton golf courses south of Half Moon Bay, that established the first point source I was convinced of, there was much earlier evidence of Half Moon Bay’s complicity.

Though the fishing and crabbing industry, both commercial and recreational, contribute a large portion of the debris to my collection, especially of the debris that has the potential of damaging marine life, I’ll leave that for another email. Instead, I’d like to focus on the types of debris that led me to identify Half Moon Bay and possibly its northern neighbor, Pacifica, as the sources of much of the stuff I was gathering.

Kayak shoes and swim goggles were what first piqued my interest and pointed me in the right direction..

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