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Outer Banks Shipwrecks

Thousands of ships traveling these waters known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" here in the Outer Banks, were pounded to bits by the rough currents and shallow sand bars with only a few large pieces remaining. Many remains are buried but then uncovered by storms only to be covered once again by sand at a later time. Finding shipwrecks here on the North Carolina Outer Banks can be tricky business. However, there are some that are easier to find and can be seen on a regular basis.

Laura A. Barnes was a 120 foot wooden schooner out of Camden, Maine, traveling from New York to South Carolina. She foundered in the dense fog during a nor'easter on June 1, 1921. The crew was rescued in full by the men at the Bodie Island Coast Guard Station. In 1973 the shipwreck was moved to Coquina Beach on Highway 12, across from Bodie Island Lighthouse and is set up as an exhibit on the beach for public viewing. Further information about the Laura A. Barnes is posted at the exhibit.

Lois Joyce is a recent shipwreck on the North Carolina Outer Banks. This 100 foot commercial fishing boat attempted to enter Oregon Inlet during a December nor'easter. The ship was a total loss, but the crew was rescued by the Coast Guard. This shipwreck is visible in the surf at the north end of Oregon Inlet Bridge and is accessible only by four wheel drive vehicle.

Oriental was a Civil War steamship that ran aground off of what is now Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1862. Near mile marker thirty-one you will find the visitors center and a footpath leading to the beach. The remains of the boiler and smokestack are visible in the water, but it is easiest to see at low tide.

George A. Kohler was a large schooner that was grounded in a 1933 hurricane. This ship sat on the beach for ten years before it was burned for her iron fittings during World War II. The remains of this shipwreck has report to be seen both in the surf and on the sand she is located near mile marker 47 at Ramp #27 between Salvo and Avon.

Margaret A. Spencer has been marked by as such the national park service although very little is known about this shipwreck. By parking one mile north of Rodanthe and walking 1.8 miles north on the beach you can see the remains in the surf line.

Many other shipwrecks in the area have been covered by the shifting sands but who knows, next year they may be uncovered by a storm so they can be seen once again.

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Wreck Diving along the coast of the Outer Banks is a fun and educational way to spend an afternoon. For more information about these dives or to see the 2008 Dive Schedule, contact:

Outer Banks Dive Center
3917 South Croatan Hwy
Nags Head, North Carolina 27959
Located at mile post 12.5
252-449-8349

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