SS Monte Carlo
Article and photos by Pacificyo Ortiz:
This ship is a concrete oil tanker launched in 1921 under a few different names, eventually taking the mantle “SS Monte Carlo” when it became a gambling and prostitution ship off the coast of Coronado in 1932. The ship was anchored 3 miles off Coronado in international waters outside the jurisdiction of local and federal laws. During a storm in 1937, its anchor lost its hold and drifted onto the beach where nobody claimed ownership of the vessel due to the ship itself being illegal.
Today, the ship remains at the place it last made landfall almost 80 years ago, near Hotel Del Coronado. It is not always visible. You can usually find the ship unearthed after very strong winds and/or a very strong rain storm. It’s funny, because that is what caused the ship to sink in the first place. It is best to wait right after one of these storms to make your way to the ship, because if you wait any longer it will either be buried again or covered by people wanting to stand atop the concrete marvel.
The ship itself is quite large, and has a few openings that create pools you can swim in. I have dove into a few of the smaller openings and crawled from compartment to compartment and it is very eerie underwater. I wish I could share a few photos, but due to the sandy sediment, the water visibility gets very murky. It is also a good stop to make if you are into tide-pooling, as the last few times I was there I found a few live whelks which you rarely see elsewhere in San Diego.
I would estimate that after a storm, you have about a month to visit the ship before it is buried again. So see it while you can!
I also happened to do a photoshoot on this ship with my violinist friend, Jamie Shadowlight. Visit my website to see photos: http://pacif.co/2p808mA
-Pacifico “PJ” Ortiz Luis
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