Monday, October 11, 2004

The Laura Barnes

I was doing a little sketching at the Outer Banks on Sunday.
We were down at Coquina Beach and I was sketching some of the shattered remains of the wreck of the Laura Barnes. She was a 120' schooner that ran aground during a nor'easter in 1921.
For a long time, she was exhibited behind ropes but the hurricanes of recent years have dashed the wreck to pieces and what remains might be easily mistaken for shattered railroad ties or pieces of an old pier resting in the dunes.
So, when I was sketching the wreck, I was not surprised to see a trio of boys (about ages 10-13) climbing around the wood beams without a great deal of care or interest. They seemed much more interested in what I was doing. So, they trotted over for a peek at my sketchbook.
"Are you an artist?"
"No." I lied. "Not really. I'm just sketching the shipwreck."
Their eyes got big as dinner plates. "That's a shipwreck !?" "Wow!" "Really?"
I nodded. "Yes, her name was the Laura Barnes and she ran aground in the 1920s. The wreck used to be in a lot better shape but, in recent years, the hurricanes have scattered the wreckage all over the dunes."
"What was it's name?" one boy asked, not taking his eyes off the blackened timbers.
"Her name was the Laura Barnes, " I answered.
"Wow!" "Thanks!!"
The trio turned and ran back down the beach. As they did so, I heard one of them call out:
"Mom! Hey, Mom! We just learned some history!!!!"
A moment or two later, TonyP came from around the dune, where he had been photographing the wreck. "What did you tell them when they asked if you were an artist?"
"I told them no. That I was just sketching the wreck."
"Why ?"
I looked over my shoulder at the three boys. "Because I figured that they looked like the kind of kids that would get more out of learning about the shipwreck."
The below entry is from The Insiders' Guide to the Outer Banks:
The Laura A. BarnesCoquina Beach, NC 12, Bodie Island
One of the last coastal schooners built in America, the Laura A. Barnes was completed in Camden, Maine, in 1918. This 120-foot ship was under sail on the Atlantic during a trip from New York to South Carolina when a nor'easter drove it onto the Outer Banks in 1921. The Laura A. Barnes ran aground just north of where it now rests at Coquina Beach. The entire crew survived. In 1973 the National Park Service moved the shipwreck to its present location, where visitors view the remains of the ship behind a roped-off area that includes placards with information about the Laura A. Barnes and the history of lifesaving.

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