In this corner, we have Ripple Rock, two sharp-toothed peaks of an underwater mountain in Seymour Narrows, the narrowest portion of shipping lanes in the Inside Passage, and home to raging winds and gaping tidal pools. Reaching 9 feet below the surface of the water at low tide, Ripple Rock has taken down 120 vessels and 114 humans.
In the other corner, we have ignorant, frustrated, angry humans.
ROUND ONE: The epic battle begins in 1943, when the federal government got fed up and decided to blow the thing to bits. The plan was to park some barges on top of the rock and drill some holes down through the peaks for their explosives, most of which never went off. The ripples, as they call them, snapped the cables attaching the barges, about once every two hours. Needless to say, this effort failed. Point Ripple Rock!
Humans took a water break, got a pep talk and in 1945, they are back in the ring. This time they have a new approach, the ol’ one-two punch. No, not really. The master plan was to try the same damn thing. Oddly, they got the same results. In fact, one crew ship got caught in a whirl pool and 9 people died. $1 million Canadian dollars later, the humans tap out. Point Ripple Rock!
Humans take a while to regroup after taking this hit. They fire their coach and hire a mining crew. The crew digs a 50 story shaft through Maude Island, then make a 7000 foot tunnel for the sneak attack on Ripple Rock. It’s underhanded, but this is what it’s come to. They drill up into each fang. It takes two and a half years to tunnel 1200 feet. They drill hundreds of holes called coyotes and fill them with explosives. Now the question is, how do we set these explosives off? They put on their hard hats and thinking caps and experimented with these gems:
Shoot it with rifles
Drive Bulldozers over Nitromex (I don’t know what nitromex is, or who the fool is that agreed to be the driver in this experiment)
Set it on fire (great plan for water)
Shock it with static electricity (also, water and electricity, I hear that’s a good combo. I’m going to go dry my hair in the bathtub)
They eventually decide on Primacord to do the trick. The whole country tunes in to see the fight in the first coast to coast live broadcast on April 5, 1958 at 9:31:02. Who will win this time? Many people put their money on Ripple Rock with these rumors:
It’s going to flatten the town of Campbell River
Tidal waves are going to hit Japan
Millions of fish and whales will be killed
A huge earthquake will be initiated which will result in British Columbia falling into the ocean
No one knew what was going to happen, so they decided, eh, let’s do it. Just before the blast, everyone hears the calming words of the CBC announcer promise that they “…will put Ripple Rock in your living room when it goes up, or out, or sideways…whatever it’s going to do.” You’re welcome Campbell River. 3,2,1 OOOHHH! Ripple Rock is brought to it’s knees! It’s one of the largest non-nuclear explosion to date (Russia argues theirs was bigger. What is this, Rocky IV?) 1000 feet of rock and water fly into the air and there is very little fanfare as the small tsunami quickly subsides and a couple of fish die.
The explosion was so muffled by the water, you couldn’t even hear it from town. Never fear, though, the punk band, The Evaporators, have your noise covered on this album they made in honor of Ripple Rock. The clever chorus of the title song? “10 ships and nine lives later/Ripple Rock couldn’t stop a freighter”
Keep up the good work, humans. And thanks for making the passage of our first waypoint in R2AK a little easier.