How the Grounding of the APL Panama Affected My Home Life in Ensenada, Baja Calif.
The sinking of the Costa Concordia was a maritime disaster, which reminded me of another nautical human error that impacted my life in a minor way. Nevertheless, it motivated me to look for some personal photos.. Unfortunately, I could only find one photo, because things tend to get lost when you change residences. The photo brought back to mind a less tragic experience where no lives were lost. Of course, it’s all old news now, because the event was in the American newspapers and on TV, but this account is from my perspective.
This story happened in 2005 during the time that my wife and I resided full time in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico in the house that is now our vacation home. Our house sits one block from the beachfront. There is an eight foot long window in the TV room upstairs, overlooking an area of natural terrain, with a marvelous whitewater view and the island of Todo Santos looming in the distant waters. On most winter days, the ocean mist or a fog obscures the vista. However, there are still winter days, when it’s a clear and breathtaking scene.
On Christmas morning in 2005, I got out of bed, went downstairs, poured a cup of coffee, and headed up to the TV room to check to see what kind of a day was in store for us. When I looked out the window, I had an unexpected loss of my ocean view. Sitting on the beach, blocking my view, was a large container ship that had apparently run aground.
The ship blocking my view was the grounded 847-foot APL Panama. According to published accounts, it carried more than 1800 containers. The ship affected our lives for more than two months. There were the futile efforts to tow the boat from the beach with tugboats, so the company began using helicopters that looked like giant mosquitoes to remove containers. We watched the show daily from out house. After removing about 1300 containers, they dredged a channel from the hull of the boat in a seaward direction and towed the beached giant to deeper waters.
During the two months the APL Panama was part of our life, the street in front of our house was like a carnival. In Mexico, whenever a crowd gathers, vendors come out of nowhere. Each day, there were multitudes parking on the street to walk to the beach. There were vendors with wheelbarrows of candy and makeshift taco stands. Locals who usually weren’t vendors saw an opportunity and began selling burritos and tamales from the trunks of their cars. The traffic outside the house made it nearly impossible to back out of the garage into the street. All of the activity was interesting and at times amusing, but we missed the whitewater view and the island that had become part of our daily panorama.
One morning, we got out of bed and looked out to see the ship with its surrounding activities, and it was gone. After seventy-five days, the shoreline looked peaceful and beautiful again. That evening as the sun settled into the sea, we toasted each other with a glass of wine.
© Don Fiduccia 2012