In an effort to protect nesting shorebirds and the migration of other birds, The Point in Cape Henlopen State Park closed March 1. When it reopens in the fall, new signage will be on display at the bayside shipwreck that is slowly becoming more and more exposed.
In an email Feb. 13, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control spokeswoman Shauna McVey said the signs will urge caution and inform visitors of the vessel’s history, of which not much is known because DNREC doesn’t know its name. She said most of what is known about the vessel was determined by staff with experience in nautical archaeology.
McVey said the remains are those of a late 19th century vessel believed to have been destroyed during a hurricane. The shape of the hull, the size and shape of the timbers, and the type of fasteners provided the basis for identification, she said.
McVey said the new signs will be similar to existing surf-fishing crossing signs – metal on 2-by-4-inch pieces of lumber. She said the signs, used by DNREC to communicate potential hazards, can withstand minor storms and are removed and reset during hurricane warnings.
Moving forward, McVey said there are no plans to move or recover the vessel’s timbers because removing the ship from its environment would cause it to deteriorate more quickly. She said the site will be used as a cultural resource, documented as the vessel continues to be exposed, and taken advantage of as an interpretive opportunity.
“While there is not a lot known about the vessel, it is a resource contributing to our understanding of the maritime heritage of Cape Henlopen, Delaware Bay, and the Breakwater and Harbor of Refuge, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” said McVey. “While its research potential as an archaeological resource is limited, it has considerable public educational value.”
The Point has been closed annually since 1993 and is the only undisturbed beach habitat along the Atlantic coast of Delaware.