On September 20, 1938, the SS Dorothy Wintermote sank in deep water off Gualala Point after it was refloated and an attempt was made to take the freighter under tow. Three days earlier the steamship, with a crew of 29, left San Francisco for Portland, Oregon, likely with plans to return with a cargo of lumber. Captain O. J. Olsen encountered fog off the coast and gave orders for the vessel’s speed to be reduced. He was about to take soundings to determine water depth when the ship struck bottom off Fish Rock, 11 miles south of Point Arena.
Fish Rock had claimed many vessels over the years. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Shoshone responded to the S.O.S. sent by the stranded freighter’s radio operator, and picked up survivors in the lifeboats. The captain told the Oakland Tribune, “I never really knew before what coastguardsmen put up with and I now realize that I had never really been at sea until they took me ashore through a rough sea at Arena Cove. I even didn’t get my feet wet.” Captain Olsen was the last man to leave the ship before the Dorothy Wintermote sank.
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📸 San Francisco Maritime Historical Park