A solitary rock, a raging ocean, the liquid flow over a spillway. The fluid dynamics of the sea, its endlessly changing face, shifting moods and the dappled light upon its surface draws you to the fragile shore, the line that separates land from water – at times in savage opposition, others in soft caress – to our efforts at harnessing or restraining the sea, and, ultimately, to the restorative nature of water itself.
The herculean seawall of Empuries stands with the gravitas that can only be embodied by something constructed over 2500 years ago. In order to trade with the Iberian tribes, the Greeks established the harbour of Emporion during their commercial expansion into the Western Mediterranean in the 7th Century BCE. In 218 BCE Roman legions landed here in an effort to cut off Hannibal’s supply line during the Punic Wars, beginning, in essence, the Roman conquest of the peninsula. The Roman city prospered, becoming, in time, the capital of the Carolingian county of Empuries. It was abandoned in the 9th Century after repeated Viking raids.
The last of the Pacific Coast lumber schooners, the Wapama sat for years on a barge in Richardson Bay in a desparate effort to preserve her rotting hull. Unable to delay her inexorable decline, the National Park Service dismantled her in 2013.
Occasionally, winter gales with long easterly fetches make landfall on the coasts of Northeastern Spain bringing huge seas and menacing tides. The llevantada of 2009 that roared onto the Costa Brava destroyed the seawall of L’Estartit, flooding waterfront homes and damaging dozens of vessels moored inside the harbour. Nearly a kilometre inland, farmers found fish in their fields, brought by the storm.