— Brinestorm

November, 2012 Monthly archive

Kayaks are pretty much the only way to board the USS Thompson. or what’s left of it.

Modern ruins are just plain rad. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and love exploring disused spaces. Many people don’t realize that a kayak buys you admission to many such places.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a rich naval history. The most visible artifacts of this history are the once-mighty shipyards at Mare Island, Vallejo, and the infamous Mothball Fleet rusting away like ghosts in Suisun Bay. A lesser known artifact is the South Bay Wreck, better known as the USS Thompson, is located in the southern part of the bay, halfway between Redwood City and Fremont, but unlike these other sites, it can really only be reached via kayak, given the shallow waters. Heck, we had a floating picnic right on – well, over – its deck.

The Thompson is a wrecked hulk, covered in amazing textures and slowly being overtaken by algae, barnacles, and rust. However, the salty waters of the bay didn’t make it this way: It was purposefully sunk and used for bombing practice (with dummy warheads, luckily).

Local paddlers can put in at Redwood City near Corkscrew Slough and head pretty much due west. You can’t quite see it from the sloughs, but keep your eyes peeled and what remains of its superstructure is hard to miss.

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How do you signal the Coast Guard when you need help? You use your VHF radio, of course, and you broadcast on either channel 9 or 16 (in the US, anyway). Then, when they’re dispatched, what is the very best single way to help guide them to you? Pocket flares? Marker dye in the water? Flashlights? Shoulder strobes? GPS-equipped personal locator beacons?

No, no, no, and no. The answer, once again, is your VHF radio.

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Source unknown.

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