The sudden and unexplained emergence of a centuries-old shipwreck on the shore of a nearby Newfoundland community has left residents both amazed and puzzled.
A man named Gordon Blackmore, who lives in the area, was out hunting seabirds on the sandy beaches of Cape Ray when he noticed something dark in the murky waters. He hadn’t seen it there just a few days prior. Excitedly, he ran back to his family’s home and told them about his discovery, according to his mother’s account to Canadian Press. She quickly grabbed her jacket and joined him at the beach to see for herself. “It’s incredible, there’s no better way to describe it.”
Cape Ray, a community of 350 on the south-west coast of Newfoundland, shares a common history with an island known as “the Rock”: it is the final resting site of at least eight ships that fell victim to hostile weather, poor navigation or plain bad luck.
However, what sets this recent discovery apart is the mysterious circumstances surrounding the unexpected appearance of the wreck.
Neil Burgess, the head of the Shipwreck Preservation Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, believes that the ship was released as a result of both coastal erosion and the powerful impact of post-tropical storm Fiona, which caused destruction to homes in the area last year.
According to the Canadian Press, the significant ocean swells from last week may have finally dislodged the wreck and propelled it closer to the shore.
“He exclaimed, ‘This is flawless! What an amazing event it is!'”
Pictures of the sunken vessel circulating on social media have provided some insight into its history. The use of wooden dowels and copper pegs, which were prevalent in the 1800s, can be seen in the photos of the wreckage consisting of damp wooden beams and planks. Additionally, the dimensions of the ship, measuring at least 24 meters, indicate that it was likely bigger than a schooner.
The state government has dispatched a group to inspect the wreckage in hopes of identifying and potentially protecting any remaining parts of the vessel. However, the timing of the tides and weather, which have always influenced a ship’s destiny, will also determine the availability of experts to visit the location.
Residents are worried that powerful waves may drag the sunken ship further down into the ocean. Although authorities have cautioned against tampering with the site, some argue that natural forces could also cause more damage to the wreck than residents taking souvenirs.
Wayne Osmond, a resident of Cape Ray, reminded everyone that sea ice can occur in certain years and can cause significant damage to the wreck in just a few hours, potentially surpassing the damage caused by decades of being submerged in deeper waters.
The Facebook page of the community has now become a platform for discussing and investigating the potential origins of the wreck. Local residents are sifting through historical records and using their families’ knowledge of tragic journeys.
However, it also acts as a strong reminder, a concept well-known to Newfoundlanders, of the fragile connection that communities have with the sea.
Elizabeth Gover, a resident, expressed her desire for us to acknowledge and remember the past events that have recently resurfaced. She hopes that we can provide information and a memorial site for descendants who wish to know more about their ancestors who perished in the frigid waters near our coast. Let us embrace and honor our shared history by taking action.