Posts Tagged ‘DeBraak’

Why write a book on Delaware shipwrecks?

January 1, 2010

The City of Georgetown sank after colliding with another ship on Feb. 2, 1913

It all started with a story I wrote on the 18th-century British naval ship the  DeBraak for Delaware Beach Life, a magazine about coastal Delaware. Well, really it started when I was a child, when I first learned about the tragedy of the Titanic.

I’m not sure what it is about a shipwreck that incites such interest. Perhaps it is because the ship is not only a grave–for either itself and/or its passengers–but it is also a time capsule. And then, of course, there is the possible treasure that might remain hidden in its hold, even if that treasure has more of a historical value than a monetary value.

There is something about a ship that is romantic. Even the most battered freighter has a certain mystique, brought about by its travels, its crew’s devotion and the personality that it develops even over a short amount of time. For a certain period, its passengers are brought together with nowhere else to go. Their lives intertwine and relationships–some of which are intense-quickly form.

So, back to the DeBraak. I wrote a story on the British naval ship, which foundered off the coast of Cape Henlopen, Delaware, in May 1798. I got to view her battered hull, kept alive by a jury-rigged hydration system, and the artifacts, most of which are in storage due to Delaware’s lack of a large-scale  maritime museum.  It was both fascinating and somehow heartbreaking. There was the sense that a dead sailor’s hat should have remained in the Delaware Bay mud. But there was also an appreciation for what archeologists can learn by examining such artifacts.

The DeBraak, the China Wreck, the City of Georgetown, the SS Lenape, the Cherokee–these are some of the ships I am saluting in this book, whose working title is Delaware Sunken Treasures: Shipwrecks along the Delaware Coast.  This blog is about creating the book. But it’s also about the whole process of putting together a book, since it is my first. And, too,  it for people like me who love talking about shipwrecks. I hope you enjoy it.