Dead Man’s Float #10032

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The Story

On a beautiful Spring day, an abandoned fishing boat remains sunk in the mud at the dock in Virginia. While I was there, egrets came to fish in the surrounding shallow water and other birds found perches in the rigging high above. You can tell by the water color how shallow that water might be too, especially if an egret can wade in it. The shallow depth and likely some rusty holes in the hull has this old fishing trawler trapped, and it’s funny how prisons can look very different from one another.

Oddly enough, this old hulk was sitting right behind a brand new restaurant in the tourist town of Chincoteague, VA. The restaurant and its outdoor seating were just out of the frame to the left. I got the okay to photograph from the restaurant manager and walked out on the dock, but I didn’t go aboard to poke around. It looked to be plenty rough inside. Besides, looking over the side, the lower work deck was pretty far underwater. Thick layers of white and faded red paint were peeled back in large curls, and deep rust underlaid everything. And then there was also the funky odor of seawater shallows and a little bit of decay.

On the bow, her name is the Seahawk. Even though she faces seaward, this rusty old fishing trawler will fish no more. She’s just in too deep. And being so rusted up with a belly full of bottom mud, she probably can’t be pulled out without coming apart. I can imagine the only way to remove this abandoned fishing boat would be to cut it up in place using torches.

That would be plenty expensive, but why bother at all? An abandoned fishing boat is a great draw for the restaurant’s hungry tourists and it can be seen from a little way off when driving down the road near it. That’s exactly how I stumbled across it, seeing those masts in the air that drew me closer. So, it lives on in a second life retirement by fishing for tourists…and as something for all the land-lubber visitors to look at and ponder in this coastal landscape.

Location: outside Chincoteague, Virginia. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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