Their love is a shore thing

SACRED GROUND: Amanda and Richard Soley were married on Stockton beach near the Sygna.THESygna had beenRichard and AmandaSoley’s place, a decaying monumentwhere they begana marriage intendedto last.
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Richard grew upswimming out tothe wreck of the Norwegian carrierwhenitwasblue and white.

The rust would claimit eventually, and then the sea.

“It’s a bit of a shame to see it go,” Mr Soley said, after the wreck vanished in this week’s storm.

“When I grew up itfelt like I’d spent my whole life there.It was always the place where I wanted to get married.”

It was also where Richardtook SydneysiderAmanda –a keeper, he’d decided –on a date after the pair met in 2009.

As they gazed atthe Sygnashe proposed. They were married in six months. Choosing avenue was easy.

“But it took a hell of a lot of effort,” Mr Soley said.

“There were a lot of approvals to go through, and we ferried everyone over in four-wheel-drives. But it says on our marriage certificate: ‘married at the wreck of the Sygna’.”

The sea was glassy for the wedding, and it rained 20 minutes later.

As reported in the Newcastle Herald,on Mondayphotographer Justin Martin became perhaps the first personto look outfrom Stockton and findthe sky unsmudgedbythe Sygna’ssilhouette since 1974.

The wreck hadsat inthe shallows ofthe vast whitebeach sinceMay 26 of that year.

The night before, a 170 km/h cyclonic storm hadrattled the teeth of theHunter.

TheSygna, a 53,000-tonne Norwegian freighter,was one of several ships waiting off Newcastle when the storm struck.

A Norwegian governmentinquiry would later absolve the ship’s officers of blame, but the Sygna’s fate was set in train onthe afternoon of May 25 when itsskipper,57-year-old Ingolf Lunde,missed a gale warning for waters south of Kempsey.

The Sygna grounded at Stockton at 2.15am the next morning, setting off a frantic,successfulhelicopter rescueand a heroic,futile attemptto saveits cracking massby theJapanese salvagerKintoku Yamada.

Richard and Amanda Soley now live inQueensland, and sawthe Sygna on a recent holiday for what would be the last time.

Now it’s a hull protrudingby rustyincrement fromthe tide, all that’s leftof an offering of fatethat had beenfor the Soleys, and for Stockton,theirs.

How the Sygna will be remembered

Sygna stories: Readers’ recollections of the 1974 storm

Sygna: All hell broke loose, then so did the ship

Plans for a permanent Sygna memorial

Smaller Pasha storm more damaging than Sygna storm

Archival revival: Hunter shipwrecks

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