Myrtle Beach Shipwreck Stories & Myths
These Myrtle Beach Shipwreck Stories and Myths span the centuries and prove just how treacherous the offshore waters of the South Carolina coast can be.
Shipwrecks of song and legend
Underwater archeologists continue to look for the wreck of the Capitana to this day, flagship of the fleet of Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon that arrived on these shores in 1526. The Captain led half a dozen or so Spanish ships in search of a suitable shore on which to establish a Spanish settlement in the New World.
Apparently entering the mouth of Winyah Bay was a wrong turn, because the Capitana ran aground on North Island. It sank with all its cargo, and the rest of the fleet pushed southward. The expedition eventually settled along the Waccamaw Neck, but ultimately that colony failed.
Searchers think the wreck may well be underneath North Island due to storms and shifting sands.
In the Winyah Bay area, numerous other vessels are asleep in the deep. A hurricane on September 4, 1834, sank the schooner Maria, the sloop Exchange, the schooner John Stoney, the brig Francis Ann and the schooner Comet.
Earth, wind and fire
The Great Storm of 1893 scuttled nearly 100 ships, killed more than 2,000 people, and destroyed the homes of about 30,000 residents. Among the heavy casualties was the Freeda A. Wyley, a three-masted, 507-ton bark carrying a load of yellow pine, and last seen furiously burning in the Frying Pan Shoals area in the Cape Fear Region.
Her charred remains drifted ashore in the 43rd Avenue district of Myrtle Beach, where she languished for nearly a century. The beach renourishment projects of the 1990s covered up the last of her, but then she’s always had a remarkable ability to vanish and reappear at will.
The Gray Man
The Gray Man is spotted just prior to great storms and hurricanes. His identity is not known, except that people say he was a soldier returning home from a war to marry his sweetheart. He rode furiously to warn her of an incoming hurricane, but en route he was thrown from his horse and killed. His tortured soul still seeks to complete his mission, and he is seen prior to great storms struggling to alert his loved one – or anyone else who might happen to be passing by – of impending danger.
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