Monday, July 19, 2010

Ships wrecked, silk, tea, lumber, and fish

Hard Luck Coast: the Perilous Reefs of Point Montara. / JoAnn Semones
Published by The Glencannon Press, 2009. 188 p., illustrations, appendix, bibliography, index.

Author by JoAnn Semones' Hard Luck Coast: the Perilous Reefs of Point Montara presents the stories of ships wrecked along the California coast south of San Francisco between 1851 and 1946. Her thirteen chapters are illustrated with portraits lending personal significance to the events as they affected captains and crew of merchant ships and their cargoes from the Far East. Events during the Civil War, the evolution of the Revenue Cutter Service, the steam schooner as a lumber-carrying vessel, iron hulled ships and their demise in vessel design, fill some of the tales of hard luck. Semones recounts the story of the Leelanaw as one of the reasons for the U.S. entering World War I, and an episode near the end of World War II of a Navy Patrol vessel carrying radioactive fish that shipwrecked near Half Moon Bay. Semones' interpretation of history reveals the historical impact these ships brought to trade, hull design, voyages, and the transport of dangerous cargo. The stories of people who built the ships, mastered and crewed on them, or whose ideas and work preceded the failure of a ship in the treacherous fog along the coast at the Point Montara Light explain U.S. and world history that was impacted by light stations on the West Coast. See her general bibliography and listing of articles from journals and newspapers for primary sources available to the public.

Explanation of terms:

Far East: a term used in the 19th century for coastal edges of China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.
Half-Moon Bay: a city on the coast of California, south of San Francisco.

Point Montara Light
: visit the U.S. Coast Guard’s web site: Historic Light Station Information and Photography for California for more information.
Revenue Cutter Service: an organization of ships performing customs regulation from about 1789 to 1849. See the Library books: The U.S. Revenue Cutters in the Civil War. / By Florence Kern.
The United States Coast Guard, 1790-1915; a definitive history (with a postscript: 1915-1949).
/ By Stephen H. Evans.

Become a Museum Volunteer:

At the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, volunteers answer questions at the front desk, give museum tours, operate the tug ANGELS GATE, use the Morse code, build ship models, and staff The Sea Chest, the museum’s gift shop. Visit the web page for more information.

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