Shipwrecks Around Ocean Shores
By Vincent Stevens
The depths of Grays Harbor and surrounding ocean areas are graveyards of ships lost over the decades. Each ship has a unique biography.
The Coastal Interpretive Center has displays of several shipwreck stories. One of them is the Shipwreck Catala. The Catala was a 229-foot ship built in Scotland in 1925. It was owned by the Union Steamship Company and used as a passenger service ship until 1958 in British Columbia. In 1961 the Catala was purchased and towed to Seattle as a floating hotel for the World’s Fair. In 1963 it was towed to Ocean Shores and operated as charter fishing base, hotel, and restaurant on the north side of Protection Island.
January 1, 1965 brought a severe storm of 70+ mph winds and 9-foot swells which grounded the Catala and listed it starboard. Numerous attempts to re-float the ship failed. From 1965-1980 it became a local attraction as the "Tilting Ship," with many people recalling that they climbed aboard this ship from the sand. In 1980 the stacks and cabin decks were cut off to the sand line and the remainder of the ship buried in the sand. In 2006 another severe storm uncovered it. Now it was time to remove the old oil and the complete ship was excavated.
Memories and some beautiful artifacts at the Interpretive Center allow the Catala to live on as an example of the workmanship and memories of a serving ship. The original galley doors, samples of china dishes, transom window, Captain’s deck logs, engine room telegraph key and numerous pictures are carefully displayed in the history room. Outside the Center is a piece of the hull.
Come see and touch the history of the many shipwreck legends around Ocean Shores, especially the Catala.
Note: Dates and facts are from the State of Washington, Department of Ecology. Color photo with inset published on a postcard CT-279 by Smith-Western Co., 1533 Broadway, Tacoma, WA, color by Kyle Smith.