The Day a Calm Greeted the Coast Guard

USCG Cutter Aspen Tends to Humboldt Bay Entrance Bouy

The US Coast Guard Cutter Aspen tends to navigation buoys inside the entrance to Humboldt Bay. In hundreds of hours of aerial photography, I have never seen the ocean or the bay as calm as on this August 2004 afternoon when the Aspen came to Eureka for the annual celebration of Coast Guard City. Scarcely a ripple shows even in the often-treacherous reach between jetties.

After two weeks of windless days, the usual load of sediments in our coastal currents has settled out, leaving bay and ocean waters the color of sapphire. Clear air was an additional bonus for an aerial photo that shows details along the North Jetty – just above the Aspen is the Coast Guard Small Boat Station, then the Eureka Municipal airport. You're closer to being a North Coast “local” when you know our airport names - the closest town to the Eureka airport is actually Samoa and the “Eureka/Arcata Airport at McKinleyville” is nowhere near Eureka. Keeping with the nomenclature trend, the only airport actually in Eureka is called Murray Field.

I love the image of airplanes landing at a place called a “field”. Murray Field is just off the photograph at the upper right along US 101. Let's hope no one around here ever becomes so famous that we rename the air field that commemorates Dayton Murray. Just after the turn of the century, not long after the Wright Brothers first flight, Murray was a fledging pilot landing his JN-4D "Jenny" biplane on the grass field along Humboldt Bay. He was a pioneer of aviation when the North Coast was so remote that airplanes came here not many years after steam ships. Even the road to San Francisco was still a couple years away. Murray was one of the first to enjoy the lofty view of this blue and green place we are blessed to call home.

Articles and photographs copyright Gary Todoroff. For licensed use, call (707) 445-8425 or contact him by email.