Cape Ray, N.L. –
Worried that it may disappear for good, residents in Cape Ray, N.L. tied up a mysterious shipwreck on Tuesday, anchoring it to the beach in a bid to preserve the wreckage and find some answers about its origins.
Almost nothing is known for certain about the boat. Its overturned hull was first noticed on January 20th on a sandy beach in J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, on the southwest coast of Newfoundland.
But in the days since it’s discovery, the boat has been battered by waves – and has traveled a significant distance along the shore, according to Bert Osmond, one of many Cape Ray residents who are intrigued by the wreckage.
On Tuesday, with the help of an ocean clean-up group, residents tied three ropes to the overturned hull, and connected them to fencing on the shore.
“You don’t see this every day in a lifetime, not something this old,” Osmond said. “A lot of people is concerned over it, and I can’t blame them, I’m concerned too. I’d like for it to be hauled ashore.”
While the tie-up was underway, onlookers speculated about the boat – wondering what type of wood it was built with, and what the nails and planks indicate about its construction.
Bert Osmond said he and many others are fascinated by the wreckage, and worried it may disappear before anyone can find answers about the boat. He’s been down to the beach in J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park almost every day since the shipwreck was discovered. (Garrett Barry, CTV News)
Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial archeologist, Jamie Brake, is planning to visit the site with a team from St. John’s, N.L. on Saturday.
Tidal patterns are frustrating attempts to get the boat on the ground sooner, he said, as the ship is mostly underwater until low tide. This week, water levels are only expected to drop in the early morning hours and after sunset.
“There’s not a lot we can do when this is underwater at this time of the year,” he said. “From what we understand, it’s just exposed for an hour at lowest tide.”
Brake said there’s considerable risk in disturbing the boat’s wreckage too much – moving it from a wet location to a drier one will likely cause the wood to deteriorate quickly, even if it survives the stresses from being physically moved.
The archeology team will take multiple tools with them, and Brake said he’d like to be able to see the other side of the overturned hull – but it may not be possible to answer every question about the boat.
Wanda Blackmore’s son was the first to spot the boat on the beach on January 20th, 2023. (Garrett Barry, CTV News)
“The goal at this point would be to see if we can figure out some things like the age of it and where might have come from. That might give us some clues.”
Residents are hopeful their make-shift anchor will keep the boat from drifting back into the ocean.
Wanda Blackmore’s son was the first to spot the boat on the beach. She believes it may have been wrestled from the seabed by Hurricane Fiona when it hit the region in 2022, and finally pushed ashore by other storms since then.
“I’m just interested to see how old it is,” she said. “Never know, it could be a ship that brought my ancestors here.”