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The Shipwreck Appeal

Updated on March 25, 2016

A few months ago, I published my first book, "Shipwrecks of Coos County". The book provides a photographic overview of local shipwrecks. It focuses on the two main bodies of water in Coos County, Oregon, which are the Coos Bay and the Coquille River. The final chapter of the book discusses coastal wrecks. I realize that my opinion on the matter is completely biased, but I think that the book turned out beautifully. It’s only been on the market for a few months, but it seems to be selling well—especially for a first book, and one that focuses on a particular geographical area. However, in the past few months, I’ve been asked the same question regarding the book so many times that I’ve lost count: “Why shipwrecks?”

It seems that people are baffled by why I chose to research and write about shipwrecks—which tends to be a very male dominated topic. In fact, during my research, I found very few books or articles that were written about the topic by women . So, I figured that I’d take a few minutes to try to explain my interest in shipwrecks.


Fascinating Stories

First and foremost, shipwrecks make fascinating stories. In a sense, they’re like mystery stories. By investigating the wrecks, interviewing survivors and witnesses, etc. we’re given the opportunity to put the pieces of the puzzle together. What went wrong? Why did the ship sink? Was it salvageable? Were the passengers and crew rescued?

The Human Element

When you read about shipwrecks, it’s important to remember that they’re not just stories about ships. They’re also the stories of the many people involved—the passengers, crew, and spectators. In each incident, a group of people is placed in a high stress, dangerous, and potentially deadly situation. It’s interesting to see how they react. Shipwreck stories are full of both heroes and villains.

It Takes One to Know One

I had one friend joke that shipwrecks appeal to me because “it takes one to know one.” Well, rather than look at my life as a series of disasters, I’d like to view it as “a work in progress.” I’d like to compare myself to the schooner North Bend . After the ship grounded on Peacock Spit (near the Columbia River) in January 1928, all attempts to pull the vessel off of the sand failed. The ship was stripped of anything valuable and abandoned. Over the next year or so, the ship—with the aid of high tides, wind, and storms—slowly worked itself across the sand spit (approximately 1200 feet) and successfully refloated herself in Baker’s Bay. Henceforth, she was given the nickname “the ship that walked.”

So, wreck or not, I’d like to think that my story will work itself out in the end.J

My advance copy of the book. It's here, it's finally here!
My advance copy of the book. It's here, it's finally here! | Source


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    • Reprieve26 profile imageAUTHOR

      HS Contino 

      8 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Thank you!

      Yes, shipwrecks really are fascinating. I've lost track of how many books and documentaries on the topic that I've devoured over the years!

    • camsolivia profile image

      Camille Olivia Strate 

      8 years ago from Planet Earth

      I LOVE this! What a fascinating topic to choose. And while I can certainly understand your friend's "commentary", I love that you consider yourself "a work in progress". Aren't we all? (grin) Well done, Maam. "vote up" and lots of buttons for this piece.

    • Reprieve26 profile imageAUTHOR

      HS Contino 

      8 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Lucky Cats-- I loved all of your comments. Yes, Oregon is a treasure trove of things to see, explore, and historical sites to visit. I'm not familiar with Shaniko. Most of my exploration of Oregon so far has been on the western half of the state. There are some great shipwrecks along the coastline that you can visit. Yes, the wrecks and historic sites and buildings really do give us a lot to think about and wonder about. They're great for inspiring writing ideas!

      And, yes, cat ladies and women Do rule! :)

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi again! I agree with you that the entire state of Oregon is wonderful! I also used to visit inland, towards the Eastern half of Oregon, in the 'desert' ... a really cool old town called Shaniko. I actually went there 3 times; I was so drawn to that town and history. I felt as if I belonged there...familiar and friendly. My boyfriend of a long time ago and I used to trip up and down the coastal areas...viewing old, washed up boats and small "ships." One, in particular, was in Shelter Cove in N. Calif. We'd climb all over that old wreck and wonder about the sailing and sea faring history she must have experienced..and how she came to be abandoned there on that small coastal hamlet...I love folklore...sea mysteries, trains (old style passenger and freight trains of today and yesterday), historic homes and buildings...there is so much there to muse over and wonder about.

      Cat ladies and women rule!

    • Reprieve26 profile imageAUTHOR

      HS Contino 

      8 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Lucky Cats--

      Thank you! Yes, shipwreck stories are fascinating and complex. I think it's important to remember that human element. When you see the rusting or rotting hull of a ship somewhere, it's so easy to forget the people that were involved with the wreck.

      I love the OR coast too. Mo's Chowder is famous. They did a list of the best places for clam chowder in a magazine a few years ago, and Mo's was near the top of the list! I love visiting the Newport area, but I live further south. The entire state is so beautiful though-- you can't go wrong no matter where you choose to explore! If you ever do move to OR, you'll have to look me up. And, yes, the most important thing in choosing a place to live is accomodating the cats (and other pet pals)! ;)

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Up and Awesome and Amazing. I love that this topic is quite unusual to be authored by a woman and I love that you compare and realize that the stories of wrecked ships include the possible passengers and their life stories, too. And the photography on the front cover is very compelling. A big congratulations to you, Reprieve. Hey, BTW, I LOVE the Oregon Coast...spent much of my time there..particularly Newport Beach (Mo's Chowder!)...the beautiful shores and I so like the weather in Oregon. Drivng inland, too...from Newport Beach to Corvallis; that triangle of forest, farm land and country wonderful. Good for you...lucky, or I should say, fortunate for you to live in Oregon..I hope to, one day...once I get this leg of life back to CA...then we'll see...must find a good place w/some land for all my feline frineds.

    • Reprieve26 profile imageAUTHOR

      HS Contino 

      8 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Thank you all for your positive comments. I appreciate the feedback. Yes, I definately plan to continue trying to get my writing published now that I've "gotten my feet wet." I find that writing (and publishing) is addictive. I get such a thrill our of seeing my work in print-- I can't wait to do it again! :)

      I've got a lot of ideas for future hubs. But, now that the lovely summer weather has finally arrived on the Oregon coast, I've been taking full advantage of it. I've been spending many hours scraping 80+ years of paint off of my little old house and re-painting. It's a big task, but it needed to be done.

      So, please be patient. I promise to write many more hubs as soon as I finish this summer's big outdoor project! :)

      Thank you, again, for reading!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      I am so very proud of you! This is a fantastic achievement, and I love your passion about the subject!

      I know you are going to keep going with your dreams, now that you have gotten your feet wet!!

      Voted UP & AWESOME and I look forward to hearing and reading more. Have a good evening, mar.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      8 years ago

      Well Congratulations on Publishing your First Book, how Exciting! I look forward to following your Hubs and Thanks for Honoring me as well!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I am very happy for you and the success of the book. I love shipwrecks too and find them interesting.

    • Reprieve26 profile imageAUTHOR

      HS Contino 

      8 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Thank you! :)

    • Hollie Thomas profile image

      Hollie Thomas 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yes, congratualtions and well done.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      8 years ago

      Dear Reprieve,

      First let me congratulate you on being a published author how wonderful that is! The book sounds very interesting. I guess the mystery surrounding a ship wreck keeps people’s interest. Great topic to write about. God Bless,



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