source– Settled just about 5 feet below the surface of the water in the shadow of the Stratford Avenue Bridge, three ships from the early 20th century lie undisturbed and slowly disintegrating.
The three ships’ stories of navigating waters did not end as tragically as other shipwrecks Nick DeLong has studied, but it’s just as important to preserve their history underwater, he said.
“There are only a few examples of (these canal barges) that we have and these three are stacked on top of each other,” said DeLong, who is a nautical archaeologist.
DeLong, along with John Bean, an ocean hydrographer, and Jeff Pydeski, a project scientist, both from Ocean Surveys, based in Southington, have been working to collect data on shipwrecks along the Connecticut coast for about two weeks, and Bridgeport Harbor was a recent stop. The surveys are helping them to better understand the state of the wrecks now and how the sites might be affected by future storms or other environmental factors.
“Super storms could pick up wrecks and move them,” DeLong said. “Hurricanes and the health of the seas can play a large role in where these wrecks are today.”
“The best we can do is understand it,” he noted.
The survey work is being financed by the state Historic Preservation Office, and R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, where DeLong is based, has been tasked with analyzing the data collected at the shipwrecks. About $8 million in grants from the federal government was given to the SHPO after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 to be used to survey and collect data on historic sites along the coast that are at risk when major storms hit, according to Doug Royalty, the state Historic Preservation Office Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Grant coordinator. These sites have been both on land and underwater.
While it’s unlikely Superstorm Sandy made a large impact on the three Bridgeport Harbor ships, DeLong said the data available on the three boats will be more complete now.
Alright, I’m going to start by saying I realize this isn’t exactly a national or pressing issue. If you don’t live within 10 miles of the Brian’s Den this doesn’t affect you at all. But, it very much affects me, which, in turn, affects you. So, whether you like it or not, you need to care about Milford, Connecticut, if only for the next five minutes. Anyway, now that that’s established, on to the matter at hand.
Despite never signing up for it or expressing any desire to receive it, I still get the Milford-Orange Bulletin delivered to my door. Usually, I just toss it. For someone with such a wide scope of interest, small town news means next to nothing for me. But this time, something caught my eye. The front page read “Scientists conduct survey of shipwrecks in harbor.” I paused. Anything ocean- or boat-related will always hold my attention. The more I read, the more concerned I got. These scientists weren’t just looking at a random boat at the bottom of a river. This was a bonafide ship graveyard. And they’re going to blame things like storms? Are you kidding? Three ships don’t just sink in the exact same place like that. No, I can already read your mind. Who cares? It’s all just random. What’s the big deal? Well, friend, if I lived somewhere else, this wouldn’t be a big deal at all. The only problem is, I live a stone’s throw from Charles Island.
Never heard of Charles Island? I’m not surprised. It’s not the kind of place the mainstream media wants you to know about. Well, start by reading this. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You done? Do you see why I’m concerned? This tiny patch of land, less than five minutes from where I live, has been hit with three of the most powerful curses known to man. Cursed Pirate treasure. Cursed South American Treasure. And, the coup de grâce, it’s ancient Native American land. People disappear around it. People come back from the island making crazy claims about flaming specters. People die on the island. I walked along the beach during the Blood Moon in 2015. When I saw the island, a chill ran through my core. The air was thick with a macabre energy. I could feel the presence of the countless phantoms and dark spirits that live on the island. The shadow creatures that call the hidden caverns underneath the island home were skating across the ice cold water like Apolo Anton Ohno. Though the strip of land connecting the island to the mainland would have soon been exposed, I didn’t have the guts to stick around and wait. The island’s curse is as real as real can get. There’s not a doubt in my mind the island caused all of those shipwrecks. Those three ships are the tip of the iceberg. I bet if you dive to the ocean floor anywhere close to Charles Island and you’d find a thick layer of decaying ships. I’m not opposed to blaming every New England shipwreck on Charles Island. Considering the power of the three curses, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bermuda Triangle is somehow related.
So what does it all mean? Well, it put my plans of buying a boat and living off the ocean on hold until I move a little farther away. In fact, I may need to scrap them altogether. I’ve swam in those waters. Am I cursed now? Will this follow me wherever I go? I don’t feel cursed, but maybe it’s dormant. What happens the next time there’s a blood moon? Do I have to start sleeping with one eye open in fear of whatever demonic denizens of the dark depths around Charles Island come knocking on my door? Am I living the plot of Pirates of the Caribbean 6? How much longer do I have to live? I hope they wait until the Patriots go undefeated again before they brutally murder me. I already know I have no way of lifting this curse-it’s powers are way beyond my abilities. My chances of survival are thinner than LeBron’s hair. The only chance I might have is to try and outrun it. Next time there’s any kind of eclipse I pretty much have to go off the grid. Go as far away from Charles Island as humanly possible. But I’ve got a feeling it’ll catch up to me even if I’m halfway around the world. I never should have left Vermont.