There’s a long stretch of the California coastline that’s seldom seen by residents and visitors alike. From the peaceful tranquility of Santa Barbara the coastline runs west about 40 miles to Pt. Conception, the Cape Horn of the Pacific and then makes a right turn , running northward towards Carmel and Montery. Famed Highway 101 turns northward well before Pt Conception, partly the result of geography and also that the lands to the west were large ranches from the distant past.
Approaching Pt. Conception the seas change with large waves, winds often from the Gulf of Alaska and fog resulting from the cold waters. It’s a change from day into night and the source of nightmares for sailors over hundreds of years. From the Channel Islands to Montery the coastline is littered with the wrecks of ships. One way to see this area is by train, as the tracks follow the coast around Pt. Conception and continue some distance north. It’s also the scene of the US Navy’s worst peacetime disaster. Today it is part of Vandenberg AFB and off limits to visitors, other than passing trains.
Between WWI and WW2 a squadron of Navy destroyers left the Bay area for Southern California. At night and in foggy conditions the commander of the flotilla continues on at a high rate of speed and orders the others to continue.
The disaster that follows on the lonely coast makes for a great story . It also raises the question so often asked in the military, when does it become obligatory to challenge the command of a superior officer. 48 pages English