An update from Frank Stephenson on the Dog Island wrecks

Last Saturday’s blustery visit by Tropical Storm Nestor, which made landfall on St. Vincent Island, spared Franklin County any serious damage and even left a gift similar to Hurricane Michael’s of a year ago.


The gravesites of two old shipwrecks on Dog Island - just chronicled in last week’s edition of the Times —were resurrected yet again by Nestor’s strong storm surge. A pounding wall of water estimated at between three and five feet flushed away tons of sand that had all but completely reburied the two vessel fragments since Michael fully exposed them on Oct. 10, 2018.


This second storm-driven excavation of the site revealed almost every bit as much of the old sailing ships as did Michael. The most striking find was that Nestor pushed the main wreck several yards further inland, yet kept it on its keel with bow still pointing almost due west. Amazingly, despite the surf’s power, the main sections of planking and rib cross pieces were found to be as intact as they were a year ago.


The other wreck fragment - an overturned hull section located roughly 60 yards west of the main wreck - had been almost completely reburied in sand. Now the entire, 78-foot fragment is as visible above the sand as it ever was.


Evidence of vandalism also was revealed, notably on the main wreck where starboard timbers were found to be sawn off in places. State archaeologists remind the public that the shipwrecks lie in state waters and therefore are state property. Anyone caught vandalizing the site faces potentially heavy fines.


Frank Stephenson is a freelance writer, photographer, former magazine editor and semi-serious charter captain based in Carrabelle. He may be reached at fh1stephenson@gmail.com