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The Fjord Queen on the Rocks


On Saturday, October 13, 2012, at 4:00 hours, the captain of the F/V Fjord Queen was ordered to leave her trapped on the rocks at Ross’ Cove. He’d gone aground at 2:30, and after a ninety minute struggle to right the ship, was taking on water. The Coast Guard and other emergency responders were there to assist.

Barry called to say he’d be swimming from the reef to the shore, but didn’t say exactly where he was. The cell phone went dead.

I drove a pre-dawn stretch of Highway 1 north of the hail port a few times before heading to the harbor master’s office for specifics. As expected, the place was deserted. A sheriff’s deputy came by on shift change and filled me in. Barry was coming back from the fishing grounds when he fell asleep.

Fatigue, no exhaustion, is common among fishermen. They hate to miss a good fishing day; they see the season as a window of limited opportunity. Barry was trying to squeeze in one more tuna trip – to sell fresh albacore off the boat during Pumpkin Festival weekend.

The cove where the Queen is waiting to break, is below Pillar Point Air Station; the reef break beyond is the famous Maverick’s big wave surf spot. There will be a volunteer beach clean-up day very soon – we are expecting gale force winds this weekend.

Barry said the worst part of the incident was telling the old fisherman who’d built the boat that he’d put her on the rocks. He removed the captain’s wheel and presented it to Arnie with his very deep felt regret. The octogenarian smiled and told Barry he was more worried about him. And then when he was leaving suggested that Barry form a quartet – with others that have run aground – called the Beached Boys.

To follow the story of a fisherman getting back on his feet, see


About Author

Therese Ambrosi Smith became fascinated by a remarkable collection of WWII oral histories at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park, and her debut novel, Wax, was born. Her short fiction has incorporated personal tales of work and travel: climbing mountains, surveying logging roads, designing parks and playgrounds, tending bar and selling fish. She completed the UCLA Writers' Program in June 2009, and is currently embarking on a "tin can camper book tour."