10 Amazing “Above-Water” Shipwrecks

Image by yeowatzup

The world’s oceans abound with shipwrecks and a multitude of other nautical artifacts.  Lurking deep beneath the waves of the planet’s most inhospitable waters are some of history’s most grand and feared ships, presenting divers with a fascinating incarnation of a bygone age.  But what about those among us who don’t scuba dive?  Here are 10 corroding old vessels that can be seen clearly from the relative safety of terra firma.

SS American Star, Canary Islands

Image by Wollex

(Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The incredible image above shows the wreck of the SS American Star, built in 1940 for United States Lines and wrecked in January 1994 off Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.  At the time of the accident, the vessel was being towed to Thailand to be used as a floating hotel… More to come on this one later!

Chatham Islands, New Zealand

Image by wili hybrid

This rusty old vessel (above) was captured on the archipelago of the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, in September 2007.  The islands are named after the ship HMS Chatham of the Vancouver Expedition, captained by William Robert Broughton, who claimed possession of the archipelago for Great Britain in 1791.  But it’s fair to say that this old boat doesn’t quite date back to that period in history.  Today, the islands have a grand population of 609 people of European and Maori descent, with surroundings that conjure an atmosphere of exploration and adventure harking back to the early settlers.

Republic of Vanuatu, South Pacific

Image by Graham Crumb

This ill fated ship ran aground here in the early 1980s when Cyclone Uma lashed the islands of Vanuatu.  The volcanic archipelago in the Melanesia region has doubtless seen countless shipwrecks in its time.  This one has rested on the reef since the day it foundered, and has since become a popular tourist attraction.

The Peter Iredale, Clatsop Spit, Oregon, United States

Image by joannapoe

Jutting out of the sand along the northwest coast of Oregon can be found the remains of the Peter Iredale, which ran aground here in 1906.  Built in June 1890 in Maryport, northern England, by R. Ritson & Co., the vessel was attempting to enter the Columbia River when high winds literally drove her into the shore.  Thankfully all 27 souls on board, including two stowaways, were saved.  The weather scuppered any plans to tow the ship off the beach and it soon became embedded in the sand, where it remains to this day.  Rumour has it that the ship’s skipper, Captain Harry Lawrence, waded ashore from the wreck armed with the log book and a bottle of whisky.  He passed the whisky around his crew and offered up a final salute to his ship, saying:

“May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.”

Point Reyes, California

Image by Orin Zebest

It might not be the most impressive looking wreck of all time, but the photographer has done a nice job of capturing the eponymous Point Reyes fishing boat.

The Kakapo, Cape Town

Image by HelgaRainbow

The two remaining propeller blades framing a rusty old boiler is all that remains of the Kakapo, which ran aground on May 26, 1900.  On that fateful night, the Kakapo left Cape Town bound for Sydney, reportedly shrouded in “mist and fog”.  The captain turned sharp east when he saw what he thought was Cape Point, which would have allowed him to cruise into False Bay.  But unbeknown to him, what he had actually seen was Chapman’s Peak, and instead of turning into False Bay he rammed the ship on Noordhoek Beach, where it has been slowly rotting away for the last century.  The Cape of Good Hope is known for its treacherous conditions, and was originally called The Cape of Storms.  Since 1918, the Slangkop Lighthouse has ensured subsequent captains have not made the same mistake.

Lake Ontario, Canada

Image by shane2u

Can anyone fill in the blanks in on this one?  Name of vessel?  How it came to be washed-up here?  What is known is that this amazingly intact shipwreck can be found on the shores of Lake Ontario.  And if you think this is cool, the lake has a plethora of wrecks – some of them commanding important places in history.

SS Maheno, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

Image by NeilsPhotography

Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland in Australia is the largest sand island in the world and a breathtaking place to visit.  But its most notable man-made landmark is easily the wreck of the SS Maheno.  The Maheno had a varied history: built in Scotland in 1905 as a luxury passenger liner for the trans-Tasman crossings, it served as a hospital ship in the English Channel during before being declared outdated in 1935.  That same year, the ship was being towed to Melbourne when a cyclone struck, setting it adrift for several days before it finally became beached on Fraser Island.  It has since been used for target practise by the Royal Australian Air Force and is now a popular tourist attraction.  More than three storeys of the vessel are reportedly buried beneath the sand.

River Princess, Candolim Beach, Goa

Image by Jason Turner

Perhaps more of an eyesore than historic wreck, the vast River Princess lies abandoned on Candolim Beach in Goa after it was washed-up in a storm.  The local government, apparently, cannot afford to get rid of the ship, and by all accounts the water is so shallow that people can almost wade out to it – not recommended!  One side of the hull has had a gaping hole cut out so that the sand and water that has gushed in will ensure the ship doesn’t move, preventing it drifting into the busy shipping lanes.  Eyesore or not, this is one leviathan that could be with us for generations to come…

Keep reading – dive this haunting ship graveyard of the Red Sea and explore a variety of abandoned ships, boats and shipyards.

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  • Bruno Diaz

    Hi, regarding the shipwreck at lake Ontario, you can find all the
    info on the boat here http://www.infiltration.org/boats-hermine.html

  • Tom

    Hey Bruno, thanks a lot for the info. That’s a fantastic resource! Could also be worth a follow up article. Cheers!

  • Miriam

    What about this at Navagio in Zakynthos, Greece? I’ve seen it, and it’s an amazing view!:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dkilim/2753126743/

  • Tom

    Hey Miriam, thanks a lot for posting that photo – that is one awesome shipwreck! I’ve been planning a follow-up article to this one for some time, and when I do I’ll be sure to include this pic!

  • http://www.urbanghostsmedia.com Tom

    Hey Miriam, thanks a lot for highlighting this awesome pic! I’ve been planning a follow-on article to this one for a while now, so when I do I’ll certainly include this pic – and the cool story behind it too!

  • Doug

    You wanted to know about the Lake Ontario shipwreck from your list?

    Text from: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=2ce2c148-b08b-4075-9cb9-49273b5b1b90

    This landmark needs no introduction to the population of the Niagara area.
    This ship began in 1914 as a St. Lawerence ferry. In 1991 a business man converted the ship into a floating resteraunt, built to resemble “La Grande Hermine”, better known as the Big Weasel. It was towed down the river and lakes to Jordan harbour and was parked there on Canada Day 1997. There she remained and was mysteriously burnt in 2003. Since she became a charred hull more people have stopped to see and take pictures along with 2 professional photo shoots for magazines. To date the question of what to do with the hull as the original owner has since passed away(and has left unpaid docking bills from her point of origin to here) has yet to be resolved. So far the concensus is to leave her right there. We hope they do, every time we drive by we always look and perhaps wonder what it would of been like to sail on such a ship.

  • Tom

    Hey Doug, thanks a lot for the info. Fascinating stuff! It’s funny how – like ghost towns – people all of a sudden start to take an interest after an object/place has been abandoned or destroyed. I hope they do leave it there, it looks like a local landmark now! I can see a future post coming on too. Thanks again!

  • Sonofworf55

    the apparent wreck on the shore of lake Ontario is a fake it is a steel hulled freighter that was planked and had masts added to make it look like an old sailing ship and placed at the entrance of a marina. vandals have since set fire to it (several times) and burnt off most of the planking

  • Tom

    Wow that’s awesome, thanks a lot for the info! They must have gone to a lot of trouble to add the masts etc to make it look like a legit old time wreck… That’s an interesting story in itself!

  • Tom

    Wow that’s awesome, thanks a lot for the info! They must have gone to a lot of trouble to add the masts etc to make it look like a legit old time wreck… That’s an interesting story in itself!

  • Tom

    Good find there, Doug! Thanks a lot for the info, I need to look into this more!

  • Tom

    Good find there, Doug! Thanks a lot for the info, I need to look into this more!

  • Fewspau

    It was actually a Canadian Coast Guard vessel that was converted to a copy of Samuel de Champlains vessel for Expo 67 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday.

  • Fewspau

    Grande Hermine II – it was actually a copy of Jacques Cartier’s boat. My bad.

  • Fewspau
  • scuba girl

    Missing the S. S. Sapona Wreck in Bimini, Bahamas. A concrete ship made during WWI when supplies were short. Once the war was over they sold it to a man in Bimini who used it for rum running during prohibition. During one of his trips, a hurricane ran the ship aground, but he still used it as a stop for rum running, as well as a bar, club and casino. Once another hurricane came along and destroyed the bow, he needed to shut down. During WWII the US Air Force and Navy used it as target practice until the Bahamians told them they had to stop. Today, it sits in 17 feet of water 4 miles south of Bimini, and is a great spot for diving! If you’re lucky you can find old bullet shells from all that target practice.

  • Jswhyman

    “River Princess”?! That is no princess, more like an ogre or hag.

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • Dinos

    There is another well known shipwreck in Greece where there are thousands of pictures of it over the internet. That is in the Valtaki,Gythio,Laconia Greece and it is located on a beach that the ancient city of gythio or gythium lies after it sunk in the sea after a major earthquake. This used to be the ancient seaport of Sparta!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/stg_gr1/4940631653/

  • http://originalcialis.com/ Verona

    Wow that’s pretty cool!!! Although that makes me pretty scary while wathcing it.

  • Kyleperkins87

    Check out shipwreck on island of Lanai, Hawaii

  • HBG
  • http://www.urbanghostsmedia.com/ Tom

    Awesome, thanks for the link!

  • otherpeoplesthings

    There is another great above water shipwreck in Lake Michigan, The Fransisco Morazan, check it out:

  • scottydoesntknow

    I’ve got tons of wreck photos I’ve taken along the way, here’s quite a few in Angola (Soyo, in the mouth of the Congo and right in Luanda bay), which also has an airplane graveyard right at the international airport in Luanda. The last one is in Male, Maldives, on the edge of the Airport banks. I’ll assume these are all still right where I left them a few years back.

  • Ryan Coleman

    More details on the SS American Star:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_America_%281940%29#Wrecked_at_Fuerteventura_.281994.E2.80.932012.29

    She’s underwater most of the time now, doesn’t look at all like the photo anymore, I’m afraid.

 
 
 
 
 

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