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MaSS

stepping stones of maritime history

History

Unidentified wreck

Off the northwestern tip of Salt Cay (an island belonging to the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean) lies a wooden wreck that is as of yet unidentified. It could be the remains of the brig Gustavus, which sank in this area in 1855. She planned to visit the island of Grand Turk on January 8 of that year to collect salt. The Gustavus was set adrift during a heavy gale and drifted to the north coast of Salt Cay where she crashed into the shallow reef and sank. (Information found in in The Sailor's Magazine, and Naval Journal, 1855, p. 279).

Aerial view of Salt Cay's northern reef. The wreck is the elongated narrow dark spot in the middle of the foreground.

The Shipwreck Survey

Aerial view of Salt Cay's northern reef. The wreck is the elongated narrow dark spot in the middle of the foreground.

Description

Status

In 2019, archaeologists Ruud Stelten (The Shipwreck Survey) and Joost Morsink (SEARCH, Inc.) conducted a survey of the wreck site. The site, located at a depth of six metres, was found to be partially buried, but the exposed wooden part measured 10.2 metres in length. The wood was found to be in a relatively good state of preservation, with little damage done by shipworms. This suggests that the site has been covered by sand for a long time. Part of the site is covered in fishing nets. While most of the wooden structure is fairly intact, on the northern end of the site, several pieces of fragmented wood were visible, further highlighting the fragile nature of the wreck site. No artefacts were encountered. Several measurements were taken and a 3D photogrammetric model was created of the site. This model will serve as a three-dimensional baseline against which future site formation processes can be monitored.

Ruud Stelten documenting the North Point Wreck.

Joost Morsink

Ruud Stelten documenting the remains of the wreck.

References

Down on 21 May

New in MaSS

Wrecks of Flevoland

Burgzand Noord

13 Provinces