Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ships: Yet More Mystery

Yesterday's post focused on a curious little ship that had been washed up on an Alabama beach. The ship, which actually has more the appearance of a ship's boat, was speculated about in the Yahoo! online article linked to.

Another supposition about the mystery boat has been put forward both by Yahoo! and by this article in The Portland Press Herald.

Evidently the wreck is well known to locals, particularly one Michael Bailey, as the schooner Rachel. Bailey, who is an historian for the Fort Morgan Society, first noticed the ship in 1979 after hurricane Frederick. From the article:

"I saw 20th century features and thought it could be from 1900s," he said. "I found an Army Corps of Engineers s shipwreck study that had a description of The Rachel and learned it was built in Mosspoint, Miss. at the De Angelo shipyard."

According to Bailey, Rachel was bound for Mobile from Cuba and she wrecked in 1923, during prohibition. He calls speculation that she might have been smuggling alcohol "not impossible" given the era and her course. If all these indications are indeed true, this would mean that the little ship that hurricane Isaac brought to light is more likely a rum runner than the Confederate ship Monticello.

The Portland Press piece also gives some hint as to why the ship has not been moved. Her location, which keeps her covered by water aside from after major storms, may be preserving her more thoroughly than any museum could. What it does not explain is why we are left with speculations over "20th century features" rather than actually dating the ship with the extensive tools available to modern archaeology.

Many thanks to eagle-eyed member of the Brethren Bob, who mentioned the second Yahoo! article in his comment yesterday.

Header: Schooner at Sunset by Charles Henry Gifford via American Gallery


Timmy! said...

I agree with you, Pauline. As I said the other day, it seems like this is a mystery that could be solved once and for all if someone just made a little bit of an effort. Good addition to the story by Bob, though...

Pauline said...

I agree. And yes, many thanks to Bob for more on this story. That's one of the main reasons I keep doing this. So many knowledgeable people have so much to add to these posts.