Skeleton Coast – Shipwrecks, Skeletons, and Sorrow

That point of impact

Where an ancient desert collides unsuspectingly

With an angry current from the Atlantic

Frigid waves boiling up from the depths of the deep green sea

A dense fog spilling across the shoreline

Blanketing the beach with a cool and mysterious mist

Jagged rocks periodically reveal their hidden positions

Icy fingers reaching over to hide their destructiveness


Infinite and towering sand dunes

Constantly changing, constantly moving

Separated by walls of fierce and unforgiving heat

They stand guard over the barrenness

Enormous to a fault, their titanic power a demonstration

The strength to shift the direction of the wind

Shadowing the nothingness

Where salt, sand, and sorrow find comfort together


The suffering of lost lifetimes

On the shore of a thousand shipwrecks

Hulking masses now reduced to metal skeletons

Some beached and quietly rusting

Others sighted offshore

Formed into a scattered metal, reef of anguish

Trawlers, tugs, liners, and more

No discrimination in the destruction


Fresh water more precious than diamonds

In this no-man’s land

In the battle between life and death

Death holds the high ground, the beach, and the sea

Centuries of wreckage

Reminders that death looms larger here

Makeshift graves of the survivors

Consumed under the burning sun



Giant whales, seals, and headless men

Some anchored in the shifting sands

Holding the memories of the last days

When life paid its final respects to the harshness of nature

Rescue a foregone conclusion

Treasure chests of worthless coins

When starvation, thirst, and despair reigned


The Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the coast of Namibia, south of the Kunene River to the Swakop River.

Shipwrecks, and stories of stranded sailors that tried to walk across the desert in search of food and water are too numerous to list in a single story, but if many of the most famous can be found here.  The name, Skeleton Coast, comes from the many bones found on the beaches from whaling operations many years ago, plus the number of rusted out ship hulls that appear to be metal skeletons.


Latest posts by R J Schwartz (see all)

R J Schwartz

I write about everything and sometimes nothing at all. I'm fascinated by old things, rusty things, abandoned places, or anywhere that a secret might be unearthed. I'm passionate about history and many of my pieces are anchored in one concept of time or another. I've always been a writer, dating back to my youth, but the last decade has been a time of growth for me. I'm continually pushing the limitations of vocabulary, syntax, and descriptive phrasing.

6 thoughts on “Skeleton Coast – Shipwrecks, Skeletons, and Sorrow

  • March 16, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    Excellent work on this piece, Ralph. Well done. I went to the site and was astounded with the amazing photos and history. Thanks for sharing this.

  • March 16, 2017 at 6:51 PM

    Wow, great read and an interesting link…thanks RJ

  • March 16, 2017 at 10:00 PM

    So nicely rendered with great imagery as to this famous boneyard of tragedy. Great work Ralph.

  • March 18, 2017 at 6:59 AM

    Interesting piece Ralph. Such sorrows brought upon by the weapons of nature. Your poetry does those pictures from the link such justice, great work.~Paul

  • March 30, 2017 at 12:04 AM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts – this place is more amazing than any words I could write about it

  • June 2, 2017 at 11:40 PM

    The Skeleton Coast remains a place of wonder and intrigue. Great descriptions in this interesting piece, Ralph. Well done.


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