Remains Of Shipwreck Discovered Along Nantucket's South Shore

Jason Graziadei •

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Erosion along the south shore has exposed what appears to be the remains of an old wooden ship.

Island resident Matt Palka was walking the south shore over the weekend when he came upon the wood sticking up out of the sand.

“I saw this and was thinking it was something out of the ordinary,” Palka said. “You can tell it's old because of the wood, the workmanship and iron on those beams. Pretty incredible.”

The town has notified the Massachusetts Historical Commission about the find, but little else is known about the wreck at this time.

Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum executive director Carlisle Barron Jensen said one of her staff members - Egan's director of education and public programs Evan Schwanfelder - has been discussing the wreck with Nantucket Harbormaster Sheila Lucey over the weekend.

"There's not a whole lot of info on it," Barron Jensen said. "It’s old, looks like it was burnt at some point, and that location was notorious for a lot of wrecks. We are looking into getting a carbon date on the wood to get a better idea of the age and start research in that window."

Schwanfelder emphasized that island residents hoping to get a look at the wreck should not attempt to disturb it in any way, take any pieces away, or dig further into the dune.

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According to Egan Maritime, "treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to over 750 shipwrecks in the island's waters. As a result, the area was often called 'a graveyard of the Atlantic'."

While Egan investigates and the town works its contacts with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, some on Nantucket are already sleuthing to try to identify the wreck.

Island resident John Allen's theory is that the wreck could be a piece of The Warren Sawyer, a three-masted schooner built in the late 19th century that wrecked west of Surfside Beach in December 1884.

Time will tell.

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