Built in 1876 in Scotland by Macmillan & Son Shipyard, this iron-hulled English barque (a three-masted square rigger), the North Carolina, was owned and operated by Patton, Vickers and Co. of Liverpool. The sailing ship was en route from Baltimore to Liverpool in winter 1879 with a general cargo of cotton, bark and fuel when it became clear that her rudder was damaged. On November 21, the ship took a detour to Bermuda for maintenance. After repairs, the North Carolina left St. George’s Harbour on December 30, promptly running aground on a western reef on January 1, 1880. Later, on January 27, an attempt by Captain Alexander Buchan to refloat the ship ended in disaster. The anchor broke free and crashed through the hull, tearing a huge hole and sending the vessel straight to the seabed.


The wreck of the North Carolina lies approximately 8.5 miles west and five miles south of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. Today she sits upright on a sandy seabed in 25 to 45 feet of water. The bow and stern sections are fairly intact, but she has collapsed amidships. Underwater visibility varies depending on surface conditions and divers’ finning technique. The prominent bowsprit and rows of deadeyes along her deck railings are popular backdrops for photographers (both amateur and professional). Hogfish and snapper are often sighted. Silt at the wreck site is easily stirred up by choppy seas, so experts recommend only diving there when the seas are calm.


Location: 32°15'41.87"N, 64°57'32.76"W    Length: 205 feet (62.5 meters)    Tonnage: 533 tons    Maximum Depth: 45 feet (13.7 meters)    Protected Area Radius - No Fishing: 300m