We’ve had a couple of days of brisk northeast winds here on the Outer Banks. The seas have been churned up and when that happens in the winter the skeletons of lost ships reappear on our beaches.
Three shipwrecks have emerged from their sandy graveyards over the past week. It’s rare for that many to show at the same time, but bones the ships are there.
Two of them, there’s some debate about just which ship it is, but for the George A. Kohler just south of the Salvo beach ramp, there is no doubt.
The Kohler was the last of her kind. She was a 4-masted schooner with two diesel auxiliary engines. Launched in 1919 from Wilmington, DE, she was designed to carry freight cheaply. Not as fast as a steamship, perhaps, but for nonperishable items, a schooner was cheap and reliable.
Her last voyage was in August of 1933. Leaving Baltimore on August 20, the Kohler was bound for Haiti.
Reports tell of calm conditions as the ship left port, but on the open sea, conditions soon deteriorated as a powerful hurricane first recorded south Bermuda headed straight for the Outer Banks.
The George A Kohler Overcome by Hurricane
Sometime during the night of August 22, the full force of the hurricane ripped the sails and masts from the ship. She was spotted early the next day, rolling helplessly in the surf just south of Salvo.
The weather was so bad, though, that rescue was impossible, but was driven hard onto a sandbar. The next day, with the weather slightly improved, crews from the Gulf Shoals—Salvo—and Chicamacomico Coast Guard stations saved the captain, his wife and seven crew member and a dog.
The George A Kohler, after being sold for salvage for $150.00, was stripped of everything of value by local Outer Bankers. The ship is now a charred skeleton. Sometime during WWII she was burned so that her metal fittings could be salvaged.
History is everywhere on the Outer Banks. Take the time to explore our nation’s remarkable story when you stay with Brindley Beach Vacations.