|Around 8:20. Notice the black mast on the|
Express 37 which is leaning to the right,
having gone aground due to the low "tide".
Fast forward to this morning. The news from Japan was grim: hundreds dead, a nuclear power plant threatening to release radiation, and a tsunami headed this way which had already inundated Japan but had done little damage in Hawaii. California was next, and the tsunami was predicted to arrive at 7:40am. Or was it 8:08am? Was Monterey going to be devastated, or Moss Landing, or Santa Cruz? Would Crescent City Harbor be destroyed, as it was in 1964, or would it be spared due to the different direction of the wave?
Morning at the Harbor
|It's always hard to capture current in a still image, but the|
speed of the current in the channel could have reached
|The dredge Seabright, around 8:30am. The steel dredge pipe|
has capsised, and the dredge has dragged one or more
anchors. Each anchor weighs 750 lb.
From the second floor vantage point of the O'Neill building, it was obvious that a tremendous amount of water had ebbed from the harbor, creating a large, dirty swirl of water on the calm surface of Monterey Bay. The harbor dredge "Seabright" had dragged one or two of her five anchors, and was apparently heading out of the mouth of the harbor towards Monterey. Her steel dredge pipe had capsized, creating a hazard to navigation for anyone who tried to pass between the steel floats that would normally support the pipe.
|Looking south out to sea, a large muddy eddy formed from|
the water that had until recently been in the harbor.
|After U1-Dock had broken apart, only the pilings and a few|
hardy boats were left. Many were pushed up-harbor to the
next finder of U1-Dock, while others were on the bottom.
Note the current; this was taken around 2:00pm.
While the deck of the O'Neill building provided a clear view of the mouth of the harbor, we were unaware of the damage that was unfolding in the area around the Murray St. bridge and the upper harbor. Rather than reach a gentle equilibrium as the water flowed into the upper harbor, it began to back up against the far reaches of the harbor, causing boats and docks to be twisted and jostled around. At one point, the UCSC floating kayak docks was torn free and began to travel up and down the channel with each current reversal. Loaded on top of the dock were dozens of kayaks and rowing shells, pieces of which littered the edges of the harbor on the following day.
For a map of the harbor, click here.
From what I can remember, the Anchorage earthquake in 1964 caused two big waves to travel down the California Coast. Santa Cruz Small craft harbor, which had been finished only recently, was generally undamaged, and Rio Del Mar beach suffered no damage where my family's beach house was located. The water receded hundreds of feet from it's normal height, then returned, then receded, then returned, and that was that.
|Boats that were sideways to the current created additional|
strain on the pilings and docks. This shot is from the
Murray St.bridge looking toward Aquarius Boat Works.
|Pilings began to tear through the docks|
as the current ebbed and flowed.
Around 10:00am, two waves entered the harbor and began ripping northward. There are several good videos of the waves, some taken by amateurs and one which appeared on Fox News. They are dramatic, and you will wonder how any boat, or any dock, in the upper harbor survived. However, the next day, that section of dock looked remarkably intact, perhaps due to it's relatively new construction and plastic buidling materials.
This is the best overall video, which shows that there was more than one wave.
Video #2, taken approximately 100 yards north of the Murray St. bridge, west side.
Video #3, taken approximately 300 years north of the Murrat St. bridge, west side.
You'll undoubtedly be able to see more amateur videos on YouTube in the coming days.
|Southern Pacific railroad trestle over the mid-point of the|
harbor. Built in 1967, it replaced an old wooden trestle
when the upper harbor was constructed.
|Alan's Monterey Bay 30 around 3:00 in the afternoon.|
|To add insult to injury, this portion of G-Dock ended up|
on top of this center cockpit sailboat. This same boat is visible
in the videos that are linked to above.
|This poor Santana 22 sank in her slip. Efforts were being madethe next day to raise her and allow her to sail again.|