After the storms, wreckage accumulates not only ashore but on the water, on the rivers and sands, the bays and wetlands of North Carolina. The Coast Guard removes the most harmful materials, the oil and fuel, but the wreckage is the responsibility of local governments, often the poorest counties in the state.
An abandoned sloop on Chocowinity Bay.
So the derelict hulls remain, rotting slowly. Steel and fiberglass take a long time to rot. The wreckage remains for years, sinking slowly into the muck, the earth rising to meet it, dark water lapping in dark places.
There’s something especially tragic about the wreckage of a boat, more than an old house or a collapsing barn. The boat is utterly abandoned, cast out of its element, exiled from the sea and discarded on the shore.
Someone once slept inside that hull, like a mollusk in its shell, rocked by waves, and dreamed of distant places beyond the curve of the horizon.
Boats weren’t made to be motionless.
Aground on the banks of the Pamlico River near Washington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Dorian.