Saturday, 3 June 2017

adventuræ maris, wreccum maris

After gold was discovered in the hills of California, there was incredible rush to deliver prospectors and cargo to the territory by way of the shallow wharves of Yerba Buena Cove of San Francisco, which as Super Punch informs, resulted in the impressment of any spare sailing vessel into this lucrative venture.
Once moored in the cove, however, captains found little incentive to make a return journey and many ships of all description were more or less abandoned. As the settlement grew and grew, these wrecks were absorbed as landfill and make up a strange and hidden landscape of buried treasure and is now being charted out with extensive detail by the city’s historical maritime counsel. Some ships were salvaged and repurposed as building materials but others due to the way the laws of subrogation were interpreted at the time were intentionally scuttled because the land under the sunken boat (the cove was very shallow and could be turned into dry land with a few wheelbarrows of sand and a day’s labour) became the property of the wreck’s owner. Read more about this project in National Geographic at the link up top.