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Graveyard of Ships

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Graveyard of Ships

Cape Cod is known as “The Graveyard of Ships”. This plaque at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum reads:

Ever since man has “gone down to the sea in ships” Cape Cod has been a source of fear and apprehension to mariners. Cape Cod is the largest sandbar or “glacial peninsula” in the United States. The shifting sands of her shoal areas, and winter Northeasters keep mariners forever guessing about the true nature of their peril. Ships trying to round the tip of Cape Cod in a howling winter storm were often driven onto the Cape’s outer shore. In the days before Global Postioning System, or GPS, and before there was Loran, depth finders and other modern navigational aids, mariners depended on charts (which were often years out of date), their compass and sextant, and lead lines to tell them when they were on the vast expanse of the sea. Starting with the wreck of the Sparrowhawk (1626) through the wreck of the Portland (1898), there have been approximately three thousand shipwrecks on and around Cape Cod, earning it the dubious title “Graveyard of Ships”.


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