Ghost Ship?
by David Irving

(This article appears in the Fall 2005 issue of Bone Yard Boats)

Well, she sure looks like one with barnacles growing on her masts and sea weed hanging from her booms. While maybe not a ghost ship, she was, in fact, recently raised from what could have been her watery grave.

The BIG T is a 51-foot, steel-hulled ketch that was moored in Charleston, SC’s Ashley River opposite the City Marina and visible to all as they traveled over the Connector bridge to James Island.

The 2004 hurricane season was a busy one. After a string of storms, I noticed that the only part of the BIG T still visible from the bridge was the top of her mast sticking several feet out of the water and perfectly vertical. I assumed that she sank in a storm, but rumor has it that a leaking hose proved to be her undoing. [Note to self: check all thru-hull hoses – again!!]

For nearly nine months the BIG T’s mast poked out of the water just outside of the channel. I was sure that if I looked up the phrase “hazard to navigation” in a nautical glossary I would see a picture of the BIG T’s mast top, yet there she sat, unmarked, in 30 feet of water since October ’04. Apparently the boat’s owner could not afford the salvage, and for various reasons the BIG T lay further outside of any agency’s jurisdiction than she lay outside of the channel.

In May or June of ’05, the BIG T was raised by new owners. Her hull appears intact, although a bit rust-streaked. She sat on the bank of the Ashley River for a few months of drying out, and now floats once again at her mooring opposite the City Marina and visible to drivers crossing the James Island Connector.

The BIG T also lays claim to one other noteworthy distinction. Believe it or not, while she sat at the bottom of the Ashley River, the BIG T was awarded the honor “Best Shipwreck” by the readers of the Charleston City Paper, an arts & entertainment weekly. Now that’s an award I hope to avoid!


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