The Centerboard Schooner Wreck

This Centerboard Schooner Wreck was initially located during the 1995 survey offshore St. Augustine conducted by Southern Oceans Archaeological Research (SOAR) (Franklin and Morris 1996). At the time it was reported to the State of Florida as site 8SJ3309 and was named the “Seafood Wreck.” As this vessel was a clearly a cargo carrier, in 2007 researchers opted for the more appropriate name “Centerboard Schooner Wreck,” to distinguish it from several other local shipwrecks associated with St. Augustine’s historical commercial seafood industry. This shipwreck is located offshore St. Augustine in around 18 feet of water, and is believed to date to the second half of the 1800s.

The site is characterized by two massive mounds of cargo, with an area clear of cargo between the two piles, which would have facilitated operation of the centerboard. None of the wooden superstructure of the wreck has survived, though the lowermost hull timbers remain preserved buried beneath the sand. Upon initial inspection, researchers believed the cargo mounds to be comprised mainly of cut stone (Morris et al. 1998:49), but it was soon realized that the cylindrical objects forming the bulk of the cargo were in fact barrels of cement which had solidified upon submersion. Virtually all wooden barrel components are no longer extant, though in many cases the impressions of staves and headpieces can be seen preserved in the cement. A concreted mass of what appears to be iron pipes and chain is also present at the smaller of the two mounds. Other iron objects include what have been interpreted as a windlass or warping drum, several large iron boxes, hollow iron frames, and a large wheel which might represent a pump or another windlass component.

After preliminary investigations by SOAR and LAMP carried out sporadically between 1995 and 2002 (Franklin and Morris 1996:26-27; Morris et al. 1998:49-51; Morris et al. 2003: 73-77), LAMP focused on documenting the site in detail in 2003 (Morris et al. 2006: 62-68). This study included side-scan sonar recording of the wreck, recording of the cargo mounds, and documentation of hull remains, including the centerboard, which had recently been exposed by scouring. LAMP researchers also placed graduated scour poles at four points around the wreck to assess sand movement, though the results of this effort are unclear, and the poles do not appear to be in place at present. LAMP researchers returned to the site in 2008 to conduct further investigations, including test excavation, though diving operations were suspended in mid-season due to a serious injury. LAMP archaeologists continue to monitor this shipwreck by regular diving visits and the use of side-scan sonar.

Explore the links below to learn more about this shipwreck and the research that has been conducted to date:

Site Description and Interpretation

2008 Investigation and Site Monitoring

References Cited

Return to LAMP Main page

Return to Archaeological Research

This page was written by Chuck Meide in 2012, adapted from Meide et al 2010:219-224.


All text and images, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, Inc. We extend permission to scholars, students, and other interested members of the public to use images and to quote from text for non-commercial educational or research purposes, provided LAMP is acknowledged and credited. If there are any questions regarding the use of LAMP’s work, please inquire at 

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