Cape Hatteras in the U.S., the whole truth about the dying place

Cape Hatteras – the graveyard of the Atlantic

In the world’s oceans, there are many shoals, capes and cliffs that sailors have long tried not to approach. One of these “bad” places in the U.S. is Cape Hatteras. This place is called the graveyard of the Atlantic, as is insidiously drifting Sable Island. Cape Hatteras is a cape on the coast of North Carolina (USA), located on the Outer Banks Island of the same name. It is the southeasternmost point of North America. Hatteras Island, formerly Croatoan, is part of a long string of sandy islands off the North Carolina coast labeled Outer Banks on sea charts. Width of this bank varies from 100 m to 2 miles in different places. The Atlantic Ocean has broken it up into a number of islands, the largest being Gatteras, Bodie, Ocracoke, and Portsmouth. The islands, referred to by locals as the Outer Banks or Dunes of Virginia Dair, constantly change shape and size Hatteras or Croatoan is not only the name of the island, but also the name of an Indian tribe, one of many that formerly inhabited what is now North Carolina.

The history of Cape Hatteras goes back to 1585, it is mysterious and strange. The area was discovered in the sixteenth century, about the second half of the year the joyful British colonists came here, eager for new lands, after a scarce on the weasel homeland. The place seemed heavenly to them, so they built a fort and settled for centuries. A few years later, one hundred and fifty of the new colonists founded a town on Cape Gatteras, named for the birth of the first European child in the New World. The girl’s name was Virginia Deir, and the town was named the same. The governor went to Britain to “get” some subsidies from the government, or more simply, to ask for money to develop the city. Arriving after a while, the governor found empty streets, houses with no people in them, abandoned as if just now. It seemed as if people were simply minding their own business, and then, suddenly, vanished, leaving no trace. In the arranged place where it was agreed to leave the sign, the governor found an inscription that excites fantasists, to this day. A single word had been carved into the tree: Croatoan. Five hundred years later, the mystery of the cape remains unsolved, prompting a host of new theories, from alien abduction, to mass insanity, to jumping off the cliff into the churning waters of two converging currents. The mystery of the complete disappearance of people who abandoned their belongings, disappeared, leaving behind only a strange inscription, the amazing word Croatoan, no one has solved, until now, and most likely never will…

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For thousands of years, these barrier islands, the Outer Banks, have withstood the onslaught of wind and sea. A large area of the Outer Banks is part of a national park called Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The treacherous waters off the Outer Banks are known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, with more than 600 ships wrecked here as victims of shallow water, storms and war. Diamond’s shoals of quicksand ridges, hidden beneath the rough sea off Cape Gatteras, never promised safe passage for ships. The cemetery has claimed many lives over the past 400 years, but the islanders have saved many. Back in the 1870s, villagers served in the United States Rescue Service

Cape Hatteras is a bend in the island of the same name. Opposite Cape Hatteras, two ocean currents collide: the cold Labrador Current heading south and the warm Gulf Stream (Florida Current) heading north. The collision of these currents causes violent eddies and the movement of shoals. This is one of the most treacherous areas on the globe. Countless shoals, frequent storms, swells, fogs, currents, and the so-called southern haze and Gulf Stream float make navigation near these shores difficult and dangerous. Seafarers’ attitudes to this eerie place are reflected in the names of the shoals surrounding Cape Hatteras. From Cape Gatteras, extensive shoals extend 12 miles into the ocean, almost to the edge of the continental shelf. To the south of Gatteras is an eight-mile long sandbar, Cape Gatteras’ twin name of Lukaut, “beware,” and the southernmost cape of the region is called “Fir,” “fear.” Behind it is a shoal, nicknamed ‘Frying Pan’ because of the fury of the waves and storm surges. The shoals of Cape Fear are called the little cemetery of the Atlantic. Sailors gave unambiguous, eloquent names to these shoals. These places are named for a reason, because volatile shoals, sudden fogs and storms, and unpredictable currents have ruined many ships.

The constantly shifting sands on the coast of Gatteras expose, and then again hide the wreckage of lost ships. In this eerie graveyard you can see both rusted pipes and boards of steamships of the last century, and broken rods, masts of sailing ships, sunk more than a century ago. The number of ships lost in these deadly waters is in the hundreds. The “Outer Banks” (Virginia Dare Dunes, as the locals call it) are known for their erratic winds. Between November and April, they tend to turn into storms. It’s impossible to predict their onset in advance. Hurricanes are a common sight here, especially in winter. American hydrologists have determined that even during an 8-point storm, the wave height near Gatteras averages about 13 meters. During storms in the Gatteras area you can observe another unique phenomenon: during especially strong collisions of waves huge fountains of sand, seashells and sea foam are formed. Some of them reach a height of 30 meters.

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How difficult the hydrometeorological navigation conditions are in this area is evidenced by the following example. On October 7, 1954, 100 miles northeast of Cape Gatteras, the American freighter Mormacknight, with a capacity of 6,000 reg. tons, sank with a cargo of ore. Meteorologists determined that at the time of the wreck the wind was blowing from the northeast at a speed of 18 m/s. The northeastward current speed was about 2 knots and the wind speed relative to the water was 19 to 20 m/s. There was a long ripple in the ocean from a tropical cyclone 1’300 miles to the southeast; its height was 3.4 m, its period about 13 seconds. At the same time, another tropical cyclone from the south caused a 1-1.5 m high ripple with a period of about 17 seconds. Although the wind strength did not exceed 8 points, there were waves of 13 – 15 m high. One of them tilted Mormakkite so much that the ore in her holds moved to one side, and the vessel lost its stability and capsized. The strength of the storms here can be judged if only by the fact that the floating lighthouse Diamond Shoals, a modern vessel with a powerful anchoring device, which fences off the shoal to the east and stands 13 miles seaward of the eastern edge of the shoal, has been knocked from its dead anchors several times and thrown across the dunes of the Outer Banks into Pamlico Bay. One of the strongest storms in the history of Cape Gatteras was recorded in September 1944, with wind speeds reaching 110 miles per hour. In the logbook of the Cape Gatteras hydrometeorological station there was a laconic, but convincing note: We cannot record any data – all the instruments were swept away by the wind. When summer comes to Cape Hatteras, and bad weather subsides, sailors and fishermen are still not relieved, because 10-meter swell starts to prevail here. It usually goes against a steady northwest wind, with the Gulf Stream.

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An interesting fact is that an unusual phenomenon has been recorded in these places, which scientists have called “Southern Smog”. It still remains a virtually unstudied phenomenon. Imagine in clear, good weather, when there is not even a cloud in the sky, suddenly the horizon is closed by a dark band of vapor. This is a special state of the atmosphere, which is expressed in the fact that even in good weather and when the sky is clear, the horizon is closed by a haze, significantly worsening the visibility of the lights. This little studied phenomenon is observed before northeasterly winds and after southerly storm winds. There are reports that during the southern mist, the drift of ships toward the shore increases.

The southern boundary of the Outer Banks is bordered by the so-called Devil’s Triangle, an area of the Atlantic between Florida, Bermuda and the Vierge Islands, which is still a mystery to meteorologists and hydrographers. At Cape Fear and Gatteras, storms, like ripples, begin quite suddenly, so it is no coincidence that this area has been deservedly called the southern cemetery of the Atlantic by sailors.

During World War II, German submariners used Gatteras for their own purposes: the dangerous natural conditions concealed German submarine maneuvers, resulting in the sinking of dozens of American tankers, small passenger and cargo ships.

The cape, with a strange name, which it is unclear where a hundred and fifty people went on a rampage, swallowing human lives like a monster along with the ships. As it has gone since the time when in the eighteenth century the sands of Hatteras swallowed an entire armada, about twenty galleons, with a cargo of the very real gold found their death right here, it continues to this day. Vacationers gladly come here, because there are no such waves anywhere else, besides, the search for sunken galleons with gold does not give rest to adventurers of all countries and peoples. Thousands of travelers from all over the world come to these places to try their luck, digging in the golden sand dunes in search of the remains of ancient ships, Spanish doubloons and pirate treasures. Divers hopefully scrutinize the ocean floor in search of the mysterious Golden Armada. Tourists come here also to visit the Wright Brothers Museum. After all, in this place on December 17, 1923 for the first time a man took off. The sandbanks of Gatteras were not accidentally chosen by Orville Wright, because strong winds, which were constantly blowing from the ocean, helped the world’s first airplane to take off.

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In addition to its mystique, Gatteras is also known for having the highest lighthouse in the United States. The first lighthouse appeared on the cape back in 1803, but it was badly damaged during the Civil War. It wasn’t until 1870 that a sturdy brick lighthouse was built nearby.

Cape Hatteras interesting and mysterious place, it beckons with its anomalous natural phenomena, history, majesty and mystery of the legendary sunken ships, and the hope to solve at least a little of its mystery. A powerful rescue service is always keeping an eye on passing ships, and is ready to conduct rescue operations under any weather conditions.

South Atlantic graveyard at Cape Hatteras

Cape on the coast of North Carolina, located on the Outer Banks Island, the southeasternmost point of North America.

There are a significant number of islands, shoals, capes, and cliffs on earth that mariners have long tended to avoid. One such “bad” place in the U.S. is Cape Gatteras, which is a bend in the namesake island off the coast of North Carolina.

Gatteras Island itself is part of a long chain of sandy islands labeled on nautical charts as the Outer Banks.

The landforms of these islands are constantly changing as the ocean continually washes new straits into the Outer Banks and drags sand over the old ones. Sailing in these dangerous waters carries deadly risks.

Among the first to experience the treacherous coastal waters of the Gatteras were the Spanish conquistadors who sailed to the shores of the New World in search of the legendary Eldorado. The sailors’ attitude to this eerie place is reflected in the names of the shoals surrounding Cape Gatteras. Thus, to the south of Gatteras, there is a sandbar called “Beware”, next to it – Cape Fear and the shoal “Boiling Frying Pan”. The rough waters near Gatteras were so often the scene of shipwrecks that they were nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

Treacherous shoals, frequent hurricanes and storms – these are the main dangers awaiting mariners in these areas.

The peculiar natural relief, even in clear weather, which makes it difficult for ships to sail, is primarily due to two powerful currents that intersect in this area: The Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current.

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The clashing currents create violent eddies, resulting in numerous shoals of sediment that stretch for tens of miles from the cape into the ocean.

The destructive power of local hurricanes is legendary. Weather forecasters record wind speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and waves 15 meters high.

Even the Diamond Shoals, a floating lighthouse installed near the Cape, has more than once been ripped from its powerful anchors by a hurricane, and once tossed over the coastal dunes into a neighboring bay.

Opposite Cape Hatteras, two ocean currents collide: the cold Labrador Current, heading south, and the warm Gulf Stream, heading north. The collision of these currents causes turbulent swirls in the water and leads to shoals of sand.

A phenomenon frequently observed in these waters, known as the “southern haze”, complicates navigation: a suddenly appearing dark band of vapors closes the horizon, reducing visibility to zero.

During storms in the Gatteras area another unique phenomenon can be observed: during especially strong collisions of waves huge fountains of sand, shells and sea foam are formed. Some of them reach a height of 30 meters. Few of those who had to see this fantastic spectacle up close managed to stay alive.

The number of ships that perished in these deadly waters runs into the hundreds.

One of the most famous victims of the Gatteras is the Mormakkite, which sank in 1954.

During World War II, German submariners used Gatteras for their own purposes: the dangerous natural conditions concealed German submarine maneuvers, resulting in the sinking of dozens of American tankers, small passenger and cargo ships.

The constantly shifting sands on the coast of Gatteras expose, and then again hide, the wreckage of lost ships. In this eerie graveyard you can see both rusted pipes and boards of steamships of the last century, and broken rods, masts of sailing ships that sank more than a century ago.

Today Cape Hatteras is very popular with fans of outdoor activities.

Under the supervision of a well-established rescue service, thousands of tourists every year arrange dives in the coastal waters, as well as excavate the sand dunes in the hope of finding the remains of ancient ships, and perhaps the lost pirate treasures.

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