Ripple Rock's 60th!

The Ripple Rock explosion, April 5, 1958. Photo credit: Museum at Campbell River

The Ripple Rock explosion, April 5, 1958. Photo credit: Museum at Campbell River

We’re exploding with excitement about the future! SeaLuxe’s stellar line-up will boast two new products later this spring. We can’t say anything quite yet as the products are just finishing their final testing stages, but please do check back here to find out more in a month or so.

Speaking of exploding with excitement, we’d like to revisit a little (ha!) event that occurred 60 years ago in our local ocean. On April 5, 1958, engineers from three different Canadian companies blew up an underwater mountain called Ripple Rock that once existed near Campbell River, BC in the Seymour Narrows. The mountain was considered a marine hazard, responsible for sinking or severe damaging 20 ships and at least 100 smaller vessels. It claimed 114 lives.

A Matter of Meters (or Feet)

The channel at Seymour Narrows is roughly 120 meters deep (about 400 feet) and, at low tide, the south peak of Ripple Rock came within a mere three meters (about nine feet) from the surface. The mountain peaks were about 30 meters apart (only 100 feet), not leaving a lot of room for ships and boats to slide through. The current, which can run faster than 10 knots, pulled sideways and created unpredictable eddies and whirlpools that sucked the ships towards the rocks. They’d bang into them and at best be damaged, at worst get dragged out to the ocean by the ruthless current and sink. The first ship to hit the rock and sink was the Alaska-bound USS Saranac in 1875. The Canadian government said enough was enough and investigated ways of making the waterway safer. It does, after all, connect the northern part of the continent to the rest of Canada and the United States.

Blowing it up was the only solution. The explosion of Ripple Rock was televised by the CBC, one of the first events to be broadcast live across the country. Families gathered around to watch grainy black and white footage of the blast rocket 635,028 tonnes or rock and water 305 meters into the air over 10 seconds. Fearing a tidal wave, or a disaster triggered by the event (some feared it would bring on an earthquake most British Columbians, to this day, call the “Big One”) some residents of Campbell River boarded up windows of their homes and went to higher round. As it turns out, the explosion wasn’t that loud as it was muffled by the water. SeaLuxe was a little concerned for the local marine life but found documentation from the Museum of Campbell River saying that even aquatic wildlife was largely undisturbed.

Blowing up Ripple Rock wasn’t without controversy. Some were of the mind the peaks of Ripple Rock would help connect a bridge from Vancouver Island to the Mainland! So, in the spirit of exciting explosions, we will point you in the direction of our friends, the Evaporators.

Hope you enjoyed another fascinating bit of ocean history! Stay tuned for more… And, of course, upcoming SeaLuxe product launches!