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stepping stones of maritime history


The Danish jacht Catharina Maria was built 1839 in Aarø, Denmark, rebuilt in 1872, and foundered on its passage to Lübeck on 19.06.1893 west of Fehmarn with a cargo of chalk from Faxe. The archival record indicates that the vessel was owned by C. P. Norsk from Rudkøbing who was renowned for his smuggling activity and thus under strict observation by the customs office. Not surprisingly, uncleared commodities like “Norsk coffee” became very popular in Rudkøbing as an unofficial brand, praised for its low price.

The wreck was investigated between 2008-2012 by AMLA divers (Arbeitsgruppe für maritime und limnische Archäologie), i.e. mostly archaeology students at the University of Kiel, led by Dr. Florian Huber.


The wreck reflects the vernacular small-scale coastal trade and smuggling activity between Denmark and Germany in the 19th century with common commodities like Faxe chalk. The personal belongings reflect the consumer goods used in everyday life. Also parts of the vessel were discovered, like a pulley block (cf. photo below).

The vessel was fitted with leeboards.

The combination of underwater archaeological investigations and archival research – through which the vessel could be identified – highlights the potential of Historical Archaeology in a maritime setting.

MasterC. P. Norsk
People on board2
Length49.2 feet (15 m)
Displacement19 ton


The wreck itself is not well preserved. Only the portion of the hull beneath the pile of ballast stones has survived, whereas exposed parts are covered by anemones and are affected by teredo navalis.


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