The Wreck of the Southern Light

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Posted by Kevin on May 03, 2005 at 09:24:13:

The wreck of the Southern Light fishing vessel is one of Southern California’s shallowest wreck dives. She sits on the bottom in just 40 FSW north of the Pt. Vicente lighthouse. She was formerly known as the Angel Ayn, and has had a rather dark history since being launched in 1974. On March 25, 2005 at 6AM the 42 foot commercial fishing vessel Southern Light sank off Palos Verdes. Both crew members were quickly rescued by the prompt actions of the USCG - 11th CG District responding to a MAYDAY call. Man do these men and women earn their paychecks !

The day after she sank I dove and explored this wreck. Ironically she rests between two other very old wrecks in the same cove. She was upright and intact, one of the most beautiful sights you can image. You could see the wreck from the surface, and just an exhalation and short descent later, I was standing on her deck. All forms of flotsam, jetsam and dunnage were everywhere. Maps, charts, tools littered the wheelhouse as I peered and peeked. Some windows were open as the fish swam in and out, wondering what the heck this new addition to their reef was. A propane tank, fenders, ropes and orange buoys hung from their lines ten feet above the wreck, buoyantly swaying in the current. Her aqua blue hull and blue trim matched the turquoise water as she slowly rocked back and forth on the reef that would be her final resting place. Sitting on the top of the wheelhouse was the EPIRB manual deployment pin, probably the last item touched by the crew as they abandoned her .

Last Sunday I visited her again. In just 30 days, she has turned from a beautiful upright and intact wreck just begging divers to visit her into a pile of fiberglass, wood, cables and debris. She is now as flat as a pancake and looks like a debris pile someone threw into the sea. The electronics that were mounted in the wheelhouse sit on the sand surrounded by pots and pans, work boots, Makita, Craftsman and Skillsaw power tools. The beautiful light tower that extended up 30 feet from the sand is a crumbled pile of tubing. The two giant four-bladed brass propellers have been smashed flat like beer cans at a fraternity party.

The slow rocking back and forth on the reef has absolutely flattened her into nothing. The corrosive effects of the saltwater seeping through the cracked and broken fiberglass has caused every wooden joint and seam to separate. The swirling sands have now half covered her as she slowly embeds herself into the ocean bottom. One large piece of the bow is slowly dancing towards the depths, while other pieces have become positively buoyant and worked their way onto the beach. In just a few short months, or one good storm, the debris pile will be spread out enough to where we cannot even call her a scatter field anymore .

What an immediate and sad ending to the wreck of the Southern Light.


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