A haunting shipwreck that became a popular destination for Outer Banks tourists is being removed by the National Park Service, starting next week.
The abandoned scallop vessel, known as the Ocean Pursuit, has been sinking into the sand off Bodie Island since it ran aground on March 1, 2020.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials say they intend to intervene before the vessel vanishes completely.
A crew begins work Monday on removing the vessel, and the complicated process is expected to take 30 days and cost $295,000, the park says.
“The National Park Service is continuing our attempts to recover costs associated with the removal of the derelict vessel from its registered owner,” David Hallac, superintendent of National Parks of Eastern NC, said in a news release.
“This process has taken longer than expected, so Cape Hatteras National Seashore determined it was necessary to use a combination of fund sources to remove the vessel before it potentially becomes more expensive to remove later and to minimize impacts to the natural environment.”
The 72-foot boat ran aground for unexplained reasons, and the crew was rescued by the U.S Coast Guard, the park said. In the months since, it has continued to settle deeper into the malleable sand, resulting in only the upper deck being visible.
It became so popular with tourists last year that the park had to post signs warning people to keep away due to the dangers associated with shifting sand. Among the concerns: The wreck becomes surrounded by the ocean at high tide, McClatchy News reported last year.
The vessel has become symbolic of the coast’s notorious reputation as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Hundreds of ships are believed to have sunk off the Outer Banks, due to a combination of hidden shoals and colliding north-south currents.
Outer Banks photographer Wes Snyder has devoted entire nights to photographing stars with the ship in the foreground. He says the complicated time-lapse work amounts to thousands of photos, some of which have gotten international attention on social media.
“I hate to see it go, but it’s how it goes here on the Outer Banks. Nothing lasts forever,” Snyder told McClatchy News.
“I was looking forward to many more nights of shooting it, but I guess I’ll just have to find something else to shoot. Just wonder what’s gonna wash ashore next.”
The area around the wreck will be off limits during the removal, park officials said. Crews will start by digging the ship out of the beach, then will cut it apart and haul it away for recycling. It is believed the lower compartments are flooded with water and/or full of sand, which complicates the work, officials said.
Once the ship is gone, the beach will be restored to its original appearance, the park said.