The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: hms friday

“My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward.” Our Own Mark Lukach Pens an Epic Devotional for Pacific Standard Magazine.


Mark and wife Giulia near their home on Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Photo credit: Larry Rosa

Scuttlefish writer Mark Lukach is an intrepid surfer — with or without a board — for whom, among many other reasons, we at TheScut will always possess an unabated admiration and respect. He’s also a history teacher, public speaker, swim coach, triathlete, standup member of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach community, and a passionately and relentlessly committed father and husband. Oh, and it goes without saying — as you’ve probably read or at least will now read — he’s one hell of a writer. He might also go down as having had the best credo in the history of the world: “Write, ride waves, love, and eat milkshakes. That’s happiness.”


Above: Mark goes left on one of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach bruisers. Photo courtesy of Mark Lukach

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HMS Friday: The First Time Seeing the Ocean

Do you remember the first time you saw the ocean?


On Tuesday, December 11, 1951, The Sydney Morning Herald printed a front-page picture of aboriginal boys seeing the ocean for the first time. It has become one of my favorite photographs.


Just in case you can’t read the caption that accompanies the picture, it says, With leaps of excitement these aboriginal children rush down the beach at Collaroy for their first swim in an ocean yesterday. They are some of the 90 native children from the far west of the State who are holidaying at the Salvation Army camp, Collaroy, under the care of the Aborigines Welfare Board. They had never seen a boat, train or sea before they came to Sydney.

I first saw this picture about a month ago, and I have been obsessed with it ever since. The unbridled joy. The anonymity of the boys, many of whose faces you can’t see. The idea of it: seeing the ocean for the first time.

But it’s the context that makes this photo all the more powerful. This uplifting photograph, one of the best I have ever seen, is set against a backdrop of slow, pervasive, and systematic heartbreak.

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HMS Friday: The Scuttling of Mickey Mantle’s Baseball Cards

Would you pay $275,000 for a single baseball card?


 What about $50,000 for an empty cardboard box?


It’s October, the greatest time of year for baseball fans like myself, and so I couldn’t help but to look for an ocean story that might be related to baseball.

It seemed a stretch, but as it turns out, the Holy Grail of the baseball card collecting world, the Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card, one of which sold for $275,000 in 2011, owes all of its value to the ocean. Because almost all of the Mantle cards that Topps printed in 1952 were dumped into the Atlantic.

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HMS Friday: Remembering the Honda Point Disaster

As this week draws to a close, be sure to remember 9/11, but take a little time to remember the September disaster at Honda Point, California as well.

On September 8, 1923, seven US destroyers smashed into the rocky shore off the coast of Honda Point, California. The boats were bearing down on the coast in a dense fog at 20 knots as part of a military exercise. The seven were part of a 13-boat fleet called  Destroyer Squadron 11, and all seven that crashed were destroyed. Twenty-three men died, twenty of them on a single boat. It was at the time, and continues to be, the largest peace-time loss suffered by the US Navy in its history.

And you’ve almost certainly never heard of it.



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HMS Friday: The Lighthouse That Nobody Wants

This could be yours.

Minot’s Ledge Light, a lighthouse a few miles off the coast of the Massachusetts towns of Cohasset and Scituate, was first built in 1850, destroyed a year later, and rebuilt in 1860. It is known as the I Love You Lighthouse. It is a beacon of immense importance; alerting ships to the shallow rocks below it, and of stunning beauty; as it braces against winter storms. The New England Historical Society calls it “the most dangerous and romantic lighthouse in America.”

It is also the most unwanted. The US government has been trying to sell Minot’s Ledge  since 2009, and there has not been a single bid in 5 years.

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HMS Friday: In Search of The Green Ray, Sunset’s Flash of Brilliance


‘The Green Ray,’ exclaimed Oliver Sinclair. ‘Have you already seen it?’ quickly asked the young girl. ‘Have you already seen it?’ The Green Ray, Jules Verne, p. 149

I have never seen the green flash. Yet Andrew Young, who is probably the world’s leading expert on the green flash, claims to see one in every six sunsets. And that’s without the aid of magnification. Throw a pair of binoculars into the mix, and he sees the green flash five out of every six.

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HMS Friday: The USS Cyane. Don’t Call It A Comeback

The American flag first flew over California on October 13, 1842. But that only lasted two weeks. flagmonterey

Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones, commander of the Pacific Squadron of the United States Navy, heard a rumor that the United States and Mexico had gone to war, and he seized the opportunity to claim California as part of the United States. Jones sailed into Monterey Bay with two ships, the USS Cyane and the USS United States. The third member of his squadron, the USS Dale had been sent to Panama with an urgent dispatch stating his intent to capture several Mexican coastal towns. The Mexicans in Monterey surrendered immediately. Jones’ force vastly outgunned them, and many of the locals were pro-America anyway. Not a single shot was fired.

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HMS Friday – Ocean Born Mary

3 weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our first son. The labor was 26 hours, the pushing looked excrutiating, and when he finally arrived, I based my expectations in Hollywood, and anticipated a baby that was crying loudly. Instead, he was as mellow as they get, hardly uttering a squeak. It took almost 3 days for him to actually cry. He has learned how to cry, but he is still pretty low-key, only crying when he has really come to his wit’s ends.

And yet, we now understand why so many parents dread the sound of a newborn crying.

On July 28, 1720, a brand new infant cried aboard the Wolf, a smell vessel that was off the coast of New England. While everyone initially experienced the similar dread that we all feel when we hear a crying baby, the dread was quickly replaced with joy. Because this crying baby saved the life of all the passengers on the ship.

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