EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 8, 2014

Buoys marking wreck site missing at Salisbury Beach

SALISBURY — A swimmer from Methuen is once again advising beachgoers to have a care when frolicking in the surf near Salisbury Beach Center after buoys marking the skeleton of a historic shipwreck have gone missing.

Last fall Steve Keohane ended up with some pretty serious cuts while swimming through the unmarked, submerged ruins of the Jennie M. Carter, the wreck that’s rested off the shores of Salisbury Beach Center since April 13, 1894.

Depending on the tides and sand fluctuations, the jagged bones of the ship can be seen occasionally at extreme low tides.

For years, once the weather warms, Keohane starts his day by driving up from Methuen to swim the quarter-mile stretch of ocean from Vermont Avenue to the Pavilion. His regular route takes him right over the shipwreck.

Worried for others after his incident, Keohane wrote to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns Salisbury Beach. He told officials of the rotting wooden hull and upright beams jutting up from the ocean floor, due to the severe beach erosion during the winter storms of 2013. Koehane was concerned about the danger it presented to swimmers and children who play in the shallow waters.

By mid-October last year he got a response from DCR’s community relations coordinator, who explained that the historic significance of the shipwreck and related restrictions, as well as the costs involved, presented challenges in getting it removed.

When Keohane suggested marking the site, DCR agreed to placing two “hazard” buoys annually at either end of the wreck as a warning from May 15 through Sept. 15.

But upon his return to his morning swim routine recently, Koehane said he hadn’t seen any markers this summer. He ended up swimming over it again — without injury this time — but had to warm a little girl to move away who was playing near it.

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