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New Jersey Shipwrecks: 350 Years in the Graveyard of the Atlantic
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New Jersey Shipwrecks: 350 Years in the Graveyard of the Atlantic

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by Margaret Thomas Buchholz

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Winner of the Foundation for Coast Guard History's award for "a brilliantly researched chronicle of shipwrecks along the New Jersey Shore from 1642 to the present day."

New Jersey Shipwrecks takes us on a gripping voyage through the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," a name bestowed upon the state's treacherous shoals and inlets. Before this coastline became a summer


Winner of the Foundation for Coast Guard History's award for "a brilliantly researched chronicle of shipwrecks along the New Jersey Shore from 1642 to the present day."

New Jersey Shipwrecks takes us on a gripping voyage through the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," a name bestowed upon the state's treacherous shoals and inlets. Before this coastline became a summer playground of second homes and resort beaches, it was a wild frontier of uninhabited and shifting sandbars. From the days of sail to steam and oil, ships (and even submarines) have been drawn to this coast. And, for thousands of vessels, it became their final resting-place.

Early rescuers braved the seas in small boats, using simple buoys and rope to help the wreck victims. Others invented new technologies to assist in rescues. Quoting from original documents, letters and reports, Shipwrecks reveals the sense of duty and honor which prevailed in these brave rescuers. Many devoted their lives - literally - to help save the men and women whose lives were turned upside down in stormy Atlantic waters.

From the early wrecks of the 18th century to the present day, the life-and-death drama of maritime disasters is captured in Shipwrecks, along with the history of the U. S. Lifesaving Service (later to become the Coast Guard), lighthouses, legends, and true accounts of heroism.

142 historic photographs and illustrations are displayed in this quality, large-format softcover. The book includes a listing of hundreds of other wrecks along the New Jersey Shore, as well as an index and bibliography.

Editorial Reviews

The Star Ledger
"Buchholz writes about New Jersey's maritime casualties with vigor, knowledge and style. Buchholz brings these shipwrecks to vivid life from the viewpoints of the terrified voyagers and the brave people trying to save them."
The Trenton Times
“This large, handsome coffee-table book is lavishly illustrated… but the research and quality of the writing make this a picture book most people will actually want to read.
MBR Bookwatch
"Superbly documented... highly recommended."
ForeWord Magazine
“Rather than just giving facts and figures, she adds a human touch. Buchholz writes with a storyteller’s skill in recounting this fascinating segment of maritime history.”
The New York Times
“Tales vastly more interesting, and with a fascinating cast of characters, are told in New Jersey Shipwrecks.”
The Press of Atlantic City
“350 years of wrecks, deaths and amazing heroism.”
Midwest Book Review
“New Jersey Shipwrecks commands attention with its gripping true tales of life, death, survival and rescue.”
Madeleine Blais
New Jersey Shipwrecks offers a marvelous and detailed unveiling of an underwater world that combines dream and nightmare in equal measure.
Professor of Journalism, University of Massachusetts; author of the national best-seller In These Girls, Hope Is A Muscle
Gary Jobson
Gripping tales are recounted in stunning detail. The writing is crisp and numerous illustrations are dramatic. Once you start reading Shipwrecks, you will not put this book down.
championship sailor, America's Cup Hall of Fame inductee, ESPN and Athens Olympics sailing commentator
Sharon J. Wohlmuth
A book of historic importance... vivid and powerful accounts of life and death. It reads like an engrossing novel. I was swept away.
New York Times best-selling co-author of Sisters, Mothers and Daughters and Best Friends
Hodding W. Carter
A gripping and informative account of what appears to be America's deadliest coastline. After reading New Jersey Shipwrecks, you'll never look at the Jersey Shore as before. Thank God for modern engines and GPS. A great read.
author of A Viking Voyage and Stolen Water: Saving the Everglades from its Friends, Foes and Florida
Robert M. Browning Jr.
A well-written and wonderfully illustrated book that recounts the fascinating and often frightful stories of the major shipwrecks and disasters along the treacherous New Jersey coast.
Chief Historian, U.S. Coast Guard
Revell J. Carr
A riveting chronology of horrors and heroism [and] an engrossing narrative that covers over three centuries of maritime disasters, filled with the suffering of the victims, the occasional selfishness of the cowards and opportunists, and the selfless courage of the rescuers. It is history as a 'page turner'!
author of All Brave Sailors; former president and director of Mystic Seaport

Product Details

Down The Shore Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

1890: Collision Off Barnegat Light

The beam from Barnegat Lighthouse parted the ocean's still surface 6 miles offshore. The late October night was clear, yet dark; the moon would rise shortly. Cuban passengers in the iron-hulled, coal-fired liner Vizcaya were lingering in the saloon after their first dinner at sea. Some of the men lounged in the smoking room. Jose´ Casarego had gone to bed, tired after the New York boarding, but happy to be on the way to Havana. Chief Officer Felipo Hazas, tall, slight, and elegant looking, was talking to the second officer in his room. The 287-foot Vizcaya was heading due south at 11 knots when the officers heard the engine room bell ring full astern. They ran on deck to see what happened.

The 225-foot, four-masted schooner Cornelius Hargraves was fairly new; she had been launched in Camden, Maine, in September 1889. On October 31, 1890 she was off Barnegat under full sail on a port tack, steering northeast at about 8 knots. The ship had had a good run from Philadelphia, where it had taken on a full load of coal. First Mate Henry Perring, who before the sail had enjoyed a visit to his hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, was on deck with Second Mate Angus Walker. At about 8:30 pm, the lookout spotted the lights of a steamer about 5 miles ahead. Perring had the right of way and held his course. Walker burned a warning torch and called Captain John Allen to come up on deck. He checked his course, eyed the steamer, and said, "I guess we can clear them."

The liner didn't alter its course, and Perring testified at the hearing following the collision, "It seemed as if people on the steamer were all either drunk or asleep. They did notswerve a hair's breadth from their course, but simply rushed down upon us."

Moments after Allen made the decision to hold his course, Walker said, "We'll strike them, Captain!"

Captain Allen swore, then shouted at the top of his voice, "Hard a'starboard! Put your helm hard a'starboard!" At that moment, the Vizcaya crossed right across their bow.

Chief Officer Hazas reached the open deck of the Vizcaya just as the two vessels collided. He later recounted, "The bow of the schooner struck us just forward of the bridge on the starboard side. The vessel's headway had been stopped. I went to find the captain but he must have been killed on the bridge." He tried to get to the lifeboats, but all four on the side of the collision had been splintered. He ran for the port side and had almost cut one of the boats free when the liner started to sink. "I sprang into the rigging and climbed up as the water rose," he said.

Dr. Andres Rico was in the Vizcaya's smoking room enjoying a cigar when the impact threw him out of his chair. He rushed on deck and saw the schooner's 40-foot bowsprit towering above them, ripping away the rigging and deckhouses. At that moment engineer Francisco Serra came up from the engine room and said that the schooner's bow had pierced the hull and the ship was flooding. The vessel began to settle, and a woman came stumbling up to them with her little boy in her arms, screaming, "For God's sake, save my little one!" The engineer moved to take the boy, but, Dr. Rico said, "the final tremble of the steamer came as the engineer tried to get hold of the child . . . he just had time to catch the fore rigging as she sank. At least twenty-five men got into the rigging, but one by one, they lost their hold." The little boy was lost.

Meet the Author

Margaret Thomas Buchholz is co-author, with Larry Savadove, of Great Storms of the Jersey Shore (1993), which The New York Times called "one of the best documented compendiums ever published of what it meant to be there." She edited Shore Chronicles: Diaries and Travelers' Tales from the Jersey Shore 1764-1955 (1999) - "a real eye-opener," as described by Booklist. Her essays about the shore have also been included in anthologies and collections.

Born in Manhattan, she was brought by her parents to Long Beach Island, New Jersey, just in time to be evacuated by the Coast Guard during a 1935 northeaster. She has published The Beachcomber, a Jersey Shore weekly newspaper for four decades and lives in Harvey Cedars, on Barnegat Bay, where her family has been coming since 1833.

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New Jersey Shipwrecks: 350 Years in the Graveyard of the Atlantic 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For anyone who has ever smelled fresh salt air or watched the surf pound at the sandy shore, this one is a must. For those who haven't, try it and you'll be hooked. The photographs and illustrations are incredible. The author's love for the shore shines through on every page. It may be non-fiction but it can stand up to any of the classic great sea novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is adventure at its highest, peril at its most perilous. Hundreds of harrowing tales that will make the armchair sailor glad he's in the armchair. The photos, the research, the story-telling are all first-rate. This is just a great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shipwrecks are a conundrum. The sight of one easily sets the mind adrift into the carnal, squalid recesses of tragedy. At the same time, however, it stimulates the curious and romantic parts of the mind as well. Although shipwrecks, in reality, are often devastating, life-robbing events, the sight of a tall-masted ship sitting unnaturally along a lonely beach can be equally bizarre and quixotic. Centuries ago, shipwrecks became headlines in newspapers and brief tourist attractions for shore visitors. But, those days are over. Shipwrecks today are more often than not economic and natural disasters that play out for the masses on videos and television. But there was a time when the stories of shipwrecks involved heroism, courage, and a passion to triumph over death, when the odds were staggeringly against the human beings on board. Now, beating time and tide, a new book brings back those stories and images and combines them in a startlingly vivid way. When you pick up New Jersey Shipwrecks, the latest book from Jersey Shore author Margaret Thomas Buchholz (who, along with Larry Savadove, penned Great Storms of the Jersey Shore), it is immediately recognizable as one from Down the Shore publishing. New Jersey history buffs will surely notice the similarity in the design of this cover and the set of popular historical hardbound by John Bailey Lloyd, Six Miles at Sea and Eighteen Miles of History. If the book was forgettable, at the very least it would look great next to the other two on a shelf. Fortunately, the book is anything but forgettable. It is a spellbinding mix of text and visual texture that will surely please both the casual and serious reader alike. History abounds between the covers of this exceptional collection of stories past, from the time of Henry Hudson to the Revolutionary war (including a brief recount of a gun battle between a British frigate and a brig held fast but not defenseless in the shallows along Wildwood Crest), sifting through the years to the modern day. The history certainly brings boatloads of color and intrigue from the depths of New Jersey history. It's wonderful that, through this book, the hardship, tragedy, and triumph that has since been paved and pile-driven out of memory has been given a voice once again. Even the most die-hard shipwreck fans would be impressed with the research Buchholz pours into every page. The first chapter is a veritable history book of old newspaper reports of shipwrecks, which themselves are primary sources, transporting the reader to the event itself. The best part is all of the towns that get mentioned. It seems that everyone from Raritan Bay to Cape May will be able to connect to a story from this book. The scope of the research is so thorough that you can find out the date and time of a shipwreck to what a long-lost survivor had been doing just moments before fate would turn the tide on unsuspecting passengers and crew. It's not just captain's accounts here. Thankfully Buchholz lets the secondary cast members of life's extreme coastal dramas take the center stage. Through the eyes of immigrants, pirates, mothers, wives, and lower-level crewmen, the reader is treated to the grittier side of shipwreck stories. You truly get a taste of the sense of dread these people faced as their every day transportation quickly turned into a watery grave. You're invited to imagine their desperate attempts to survive and witness how their rock solid reliance on their faith gets them through. The survivors were truly exceptional, hearty people who just wouldn't surrender themselves to the monster that was the sea. Some of the recounts, however brave at times, are also absolutely chilling. While the shipwrecks are the main act, the Lifesaving Service and the 'Wreckers' get fair billing as well. Long before GPS navigation and the Coast Guard was a fledgling cadre of a few brave men who dedicated their time, and somet
Guest More than 1 year ago
Incredible pictures, great narrative...you really get a feeling for what life was like when so much depended on ships, the sea, and then when things went bad.