Belongil Beach unearths a mystery

THE recent storms have unearthed a bit of history at Belongil beach, according to local beachcomber and amateur map-maker Guy Hastings.

"Burnt out timber remains showing the shape of a hull have been exposed at the base of a Belongil sand dune," Mr Hastings said.

"It lies parallel to the shore and its top is angled towards land, exposing its hull to the elements.

"The planks have copper sheathing which was used to protect the hull from marine organisms - a technique that started around the time of the American War of Independence (1776)," he said.

"The British Royal Navy started to apply copper to hulls of its ships when it went to war against France, Spain and the Netherlands shortly after that."

Wreck at Belongil.
Wreck at Belongil. Contributed

The Brits soon found that copper would corrode the iron bolts holding the hull together and its navy started to replace all of them in 1786 with an le alloy of copper and zinc.

Wealthy merchants followed suit, Mr Hastings said (courtesy of Wikipedia).

He reckons the date of the wreck would be between the 1780s and the beginning on the 20th Century, when anti-fouling paint replaced copper sheathing.

Also of interest is the height and location of the sand dune.

"When the ship was washed ashore, the dunes would have been further back. Over time they have advanced seawards to a significant height. This gives an indication of the amounts of sand moving about since the ship was wrecked, and has implications for nearby residents."

Topics:  belongil beach wreck

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