By Stacy Trevenon
If you’re interested in coastal maritime history and the colorful legends of shipwrecks up and down the coast, drop anchor from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, at the Coastside Gallery and Wine Bar in Half Moon Bay.
That’s when a wine and cheese reception will be held for Half Moon Bay resident and author JoAnn Semones celebrating the launch of her new book, “Sea of Troubles: The Lost Ships of Point Sur” (Glencannon Press, 229 pages, $27.95 retail, but available at the reception at $25). The reception will include a brief program at 6 p.m.
This book is the third in Semones’ series about shipwrecks at lighthouses along the California coast. Her first, “Shipwrecks, Scalawags and Scavengers” covered shipwrecks in waters off Pigeon Point and Año Nuevo; her second, “Hard Luck Coast,” recalled wrecks off Point Montara and Half Moon Bay.
“Shipwrecks illuminate specific moments in time,” Semones wrote in a publicity statement. “They allow us to reach into another era, shedding light on who we were and who we’ve become. They are vivid symbols of our maritime heritage and of our timeless connection with the sea.”
According to the author, seagoing vessels — including clipper ships, barks, steamships, schooners, submarines and other military ships, and even an experimental airship — plied Central California coastal waters. Their cargo included “coal and coffee, fish and flour, livestock and liquor, molasses and missiles, pianos and people, rice and railroad iron, sugar and soap, timber and tea, and much more.”
They carried that cargo along a vast network of commerce and trade that fostered the growth of cities, maritime industries and ties to faraway places such as the Far East.
With that growth, though, came disasters that lighthouses were erected to avert. But due to foul weather or human miscalculation, disasters happened anyway, as Semones’ trio of books chronicles.
The June 21 reception will be sponsored by the Half Moon Bay History Association, and will include presentations and visitors who will be available to answer questions about that history. They include Pigeon Point Lighthouse docents Peter Bohachek and Christopher O’Donnell, who will be clad in eary-1880s costumes.
Also on hand will be California resident Christopher Lindstrom, grandnephew of shipbuilder John Lindstrom, who built mostly schooners for the transportation of coal up and down the California coast, starting in 1899 and into the mid-1900s. And another visitor that evening will be Dawn Hayes of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Entertainment and atmosphere will be provided by local musician Mike McCall, who specializes in Spanish and flamenco guitar.
With special guests, “This should be a splendid event,” said Coastside Gallery owner David Cresson. “This shows how important books like this are to the community’s understanding of our history.”
Semones agreed. “History is a mystery to be explored, understood and preserved,” she wrote.
Coastside Gallery and Wine Bar is located at 330 Main St. in Half Moon Bay.
Courtesy Half Moon Bay Review
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