Mystery shipwreck intrigues Ocean Shores

OCEAN SHORES — Mysteries wash up on the beaches of Ocean Shores on a daily basis.

Little items such as bottles, buoys, floats and plastics of all shapes and sizes are typical finds for avid beachcombers. But it isn’t every day that a piece of a shipwreck potentially centuries old finds its way to the sandy shores.

About a month ago, a 21-foot-long chunk of a burned-out shipwreck was discovered near the Pacific Avenue beach approach in Ocean Shores. And while there’s no accompanying treasure map and search for pirate’s bounty, there’s still a sense of mystery and romance for those trying to track down the source of the piece.

“I’ve been trying to get people down here who might at least be able to date the piece,” said Dan Evans, director of the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center. The sizable piece of waterlogged wood was moved to the Interpretive Center after a beachcomber first spotted it during a low tide.

Right now, there are far more questions than answers. What part of the ship is it from? How far did the piece drift? What caused the fire that charred most of the piece?

“Once we find the vintage of the wood, we’ll be able to start answering a lot more questions,” Evans said.

Key to dating the piece will be the wooden pegs and hand-poured metal spikes that hold together lengths of timber as large as 12 inches by 12 inches.

Evans, who operated a family-owned shipyard in Seattle, dates the shipwreck to the late 1800s. But even he admits that’s just an educated guess.

Dozens of ships from that era sank in the waters off Grays Harbor — still the second-most dangerous bar to cross on the West Coast. Many ships lost at sea haven’t been identified, which makes isolating the source of the wreckage more difficult, Evans said.

“We’ve had some people who claim they have a knowledge in naval history or shipwrecks come by and take some pictures, so we’re waiting on them,” he said. “We’re trying to get as many people as we can to take a look at this and see if they can shed any light.”

It’s been nearly 20 years since the last mystery shipwreck appeared on the Harbor. When the Copalis River started migrating north in 1988, a large piece of wreckage was uncovered. That was from the Peter Falk, a late-1800s logging ship.

The wreckage will remain in the care of the Interpretive Center staff, and will eventually be worked into an exhibit highlighting the shipwrecks of Ocean Shores.

For the first time, the Interpretive Center is open on weekends this year. Check out the wreckage from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 am. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.

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