Photographing the SS Kakapo Shipwreck

It was cold and misty, and the beach looked especially ominous. As usual, I was wandering by myself with my camera, photographing clumps of seaweed that, to me, looked like bodies washed ashore in the aftermath of a battle.

We were walking much farther than usual, but by the time I noticed, it was already rising out of the haze in the distance, the tattered remains of a ship half buried in the sand. It was the wreck of the S.S. Kakapo, a ship left stranded on the beach since 1900 when the captain, thinking he was nearing the edge of the peninsula, made “a wrong turn.”

Happily, everyone survived, but the 100-year-old ship was still as dramatic as ever, and I was super excited about seemingly stumbling upon it in the middle of the sand. It’s common knowledge that Kakapo rests at the end of the beach, though I hadn’t known so. In the end she gave up enough great photographs to inspire, in part, the shipwreck-prison in Rebel Fires.

In the same week, we walked through the mountain and (randomly?) stumbled upon a garrison from the Dutch East India Company. A big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and films in high school, I joked on social media that after the garrison and the shipwreck, if ever I happened to run across Calypso or some Aztec gold, I was probably being called to be a pirate.

Exactly a week later, an acquaintance phoned for us to meet them at Mykanos. Within a few hours I found myself, quite by accident (?), on Calypso Beach.

Whether it was a true call to swashbuckling adventure remains mostly ambiguous, though I can say with a fair amount of certainty it was, at the very least, an excellent surprise.