Note: Cover photo image by Ben Lair.
The Sacramento has a long history. It started life as a ferry up in San Francisco in the late 1800s and served in that role for 75 years and was retired in 1954. In 1955, it was purchased for $5,000 with the intent of converting it into a fishing barge in Southern California. The trick was getting the ferry from San Francisco to Redondo Beach. The ferry was never designed to be outside the bay and it nearly sank as it was towed down the coast. After the conversion, the barge was able to accomodate up to 400-500 fisherman. In December 1968, during a winter storm, the Sacramento sank about two miles off Redondo Beach. The California Wreck divers website has a more extensive history here.
The original Sacramento barge was about 270 feet long and had a breadth of 42 feet so it was a pretty large structure. The hull was made from wood still (I believe) at the time of the sinking and has rotted away after being underwater for 52 years. The wreck lies in relatively deep water at the edge of a canyon and is on a slope. Most of my dive was in the 200-210 foot depth with a maximum depth of 217 feet.
The wreck itself is very broken up and is hardly recognizable. The original pilot house broke off and washed up on-shore shortly after it sank. You can clearly discern some of the original metal structure that would have made up the deck of the barge and there are some gears and a “hub-and-spoke” structure that I cannot figure out what it was.
The dive conditions were pretty good but it was very dark and there is a LOT of fishing line and nets around the wreck so care needs to be taken not to get caught (as I did twice when my over-weighted scooter dropped down). Also, there is a lot of silt and sand and so taking pictures can be challenge as backscatter is everywhere.
Here are some photos of the wreck as it looks today: