For Part I please click here.

I wanted a little more information about the ship and how it ended up on Fire Island and found a more detailed account credited to the website.

The Bessie A. White

The Bessie A. White was a four-masted coal schooner, probably one of the last built.  It was more than 200 feet long with a displacement of 2000 tons.  She had left Newport News, Virginia for St. Johns, Newfoundland with 950 tons of soft coal for a gas works.  She was only three years old and was owned by Charles T. White & Sons of St. Johns.”

On February 6, 1922, at 4:30 am, she fetched up on the bottom a half-mile west of Smith’s Point.  The grounding opened her seams and she quickly filled with 8 to 10 feet of water.  In darkness and fog, the crew waited for daylight.  The Smith Point Coast Guard Station was closed for economy reasons, and the distress signals were not visible to either the Bellport station four miles to the west, or the Forge River station four miles east.  At day-break, the crew launched two boats and escaped to shore–one overturned in the surf and crushed Seaman Rynburgh.  Upon the arrival of the Coast Guard, first aid was administered to Rynburgh who was then transported by Arthur Hulse and the Captain to hospital in Brooklyn. All crew and the ship’s cat survived.”

The Captain was Leslie T. Merrian of Spencer Island, Nova Scotia.  First Mate was Harry McNally of St. Johns, New Brunswick; Second Mate was B.F. Porter of Spencer Island. Also on board was the captain’s son Spencer, and a crew of 10.  The salvage rights were purchased by Foster Sills and Harry Paine of Pathchogue.  The masts and rigging were salvaged as the wreck was pushed closer to shore by wind and waves. They and their crew worked for about a week to salvage as much as possible before the sea claimed the remaining salvageable material.”

Below are a few more images showing the Bessie White exposed at various intervals over the last 40 years.


1975 | Credit National Park Service


2005 | Credit Leja Beach Dot Com News


2012 After Sandy | Credit FEMA

As you will see in the video below and images over the next few pages, the Bessie White is aging quite well and not diminishing much in size or stature as the years go by.

Hopefully the natural sounds and sights at sunset in the video below can give you a feel of the scene without all the exercise.


More images including a massive whalebone over the next 4 pages.