Hull of historic ship washes ashore in South Ponte Vedra Beach


According to local archaeology experts, the hull of a ship most likely from the 19th century washed ashore in South Ponte Vedra Beach on Wednesday morning.

“The story’s amazing,” said Brendan Burke, assistant director of archaeological research for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. “It’s fantastic to see the wreck here on the beach. It’s something we haven’t seen in St. Johns County in well over 10 years.”

The archaeological treasure is located just north of the Exxon gas station on A1A in the 2500 block of the road. According to Emily Jane Murray, a public archaeology coordinator for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, the shipwreck is currently situated on state property, as well as beach that is part of the GTM Research Reserve. As a result, she said the Bureau of Archaeological Research in Tallahassee with most likely provide the GTM Research Reserve with guidance and support on how to handle the artifact.

Burke said the wreck exhibits shipworm damage, which is indicative of it being in the water for a long period of time. He explained that the ship is most likely from the 19th century, noting that 75 percent of shipwrecks in Florida come from that time period because that’s when the state had the highest number of wooden ships sailing around the peninsula.

As of now, Burke said it’s not possible to determine the size of the whole ship. He and his team plan to examine the data they collected from the wreck to address such questions, but he said that may forever be a mystery if certain scientific evidence isn’t available.

Regardless, he expressed his excitement about the artifact’s newfound presence and reflected on the positive experience that it provided the community.

“Every one of the children who visited it today will remember it for the rest of their lives,” said Burke. “Even if the wood doesn’t last and the newspaper articles and television doesn’t last, those memories will go on.”

This is a developing story that the Recorder will continue to follow.