Wreck of the Esk

Parramore Island, Virginia

The shipwreck on the beach of Parramore Island is most likely the Esk. Shipwrecks on the Virginia Coast by Richard and Julie Pouliot, reports that the 148 ton schooner Esk wrecked on Sept. 7. 1888, two miles south of Parramore Beach Station. All seven crewmen were saved although the the ship was a total loss (valued at $7500). She was transporting a cargo of dyewood (valued at $3500) from Maracaibo, Venezuela to Providence, Rhode Island under a master named Watt. The home port of the Esk was Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Details of the wreck and rescue of the 7 crewmembers are detailed in "Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-saving Service for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1889" pg. 103. The ship was grounded 250 yards offshore and required multiple firings of a Lyle gun to get a line secured for the rescue of the master (William F. Watt) and his six crewmembers. The ship grounded approximately 2 miles south of the Parramore Life Saving Station.

The Peninsula Enterprise of September 15, 1888 reported: "The British schooner Esk, of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, bound from Maracaibo, South America, to Providence, Rhode Island, with a cargo of 180 tons of dyewood, valued at $3,500, stranded on Parramore's Beach off the eastern coast of this county, during the furious gale last Saturday night, and the vessel is now a total wreck. The captain, W. F. Watt, and the entire crew, all of Nova Scotia, were rescued by the crew of the life saving station in charge of Capt. N. B. Rich, at imminent peril to their own lives. The cargo was also saved, and is now in the hands of the underwriters. The schooner was valued at $7,500 and partially insured. Capt. Watt, in a letter to us expresses gratitude to Capt. Rich and crew for "noble services rendered him and his crew."

Despite the depredations of souvenir hunters, worms, rust and shifting sand, substantial portions of the wreck remain, a tribute to the oak timbers that make up her frame and the iron fittings that reinforce them.