After high winds, ferocious waves, and storm surges ravaged the New England coast this weekend, Monday morning brought an interesting discovery on a York, Maine, beach — a shipwreck more than 160 years old.
The vessel, most likely a sailing ship from anywhere between 1750 and 1850, is usually buried in the sand at Short Sands Beach, but has appeared a handful of times after stormy weather uncovered it, said Leith Smith, a historical archeologist at the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
The only parts of the ship left are its ribbing and other skeletal remains.
“Chances are it was wrecked during a big storm, and the hull got buried in the sand, and there was no way they could refloat it, so it just got dismantled,” Smith said.
The most recent sightings of the shipwreck came after a 2007 Patriots Day weekend blizzard and a springtime storm in 2013, said York Police Chief Douglas Bracy.
“We usually try to rebury it to protect and preserve it — we move the beach back over it,” Bracy said. “It’s usually 6 or 7 feet below the surface.”
The Maine Historic Preservation Commission has kept an eye on the shipwreck for years now, Smith said, and determined some of its wood species in 2007 as balsam fir, yellow birch, beech, red pine, and white oak.
It was most likely a sloop or a schooner — sailing ships with one or two masts — about 60 feet in length, he said. But the ship itself has not been identified.
“There are quite a number of shipwrecks up and down the coast,” Smith said. “They’re definitely interesting.”Elise Takahama can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @elisetakahama.