Shiver me timbers

Shiver me timbers: old wreck exposed


By Mark Alan Lovewell

The remnants of a shipwreck turned up on South Beach near Wasque last weekend, following a series of winter storms that have pounded and eaten away the south-facing shoreline of the Vineyard in recent weeks.

The large piece of what appears to be the hull of a ship was spotted about 100 yards east of the Norton Point Beach opening by Skip Bettencourt, who saw and photographed it. The ship remnant is about 35 feet long and four feet wide.

Paul Schultz, assistant supervisor for The Trustees of Reservations, first saw the wreck on Monday and has watched it almost daily. Mr. Schultz speculated that it might be a piece of the Mertie B. Crowley, a six-masted schooner that ran aground and was wrecked on Wasque 100 years ago last January.

The wreckage on the beach is clean and free of seaweed, which suggests it has been buried in sand for a long time and did not wash ashore. Mr. Schultz said he believes it was uncovered through beach erosion during ocean storms and extreme astronomical tides over the last several weeks.

The 296-foot Mertie B. Crowley ran aground on Sunday, Jan. 23, 1910. There was a dramatic rescue by local Edgartown fishermen and all on board were saved. Pieces of the ship have been sighted over the years, but this is the first time in many years that something so large has appeared, Mr. Schultz said.

This week he carried a copy of a newspaper article on the Mertie B. Crowley on the dashboard of his truck.

Yesterday, Will Geresy of Chappaquiddick rode in Mr. Schultz’s pickup truck to go out and see the wreckage.

He recalled seeing a 50-foot long oak timber in the surf in the Wasque area about 10 years ago one afternoon in late autumn.

Mr. Geresy said he thought it was a ship’s keel.

“It was full of wooden pegs. The next day, I went back and it was gone,” he said.