Mystery ship

On certain dark and stormy nights, an old wooden sailing ship, long abandoned by her crew, reappears along the Fort Morgan beach.

After the storm clears, strollers come across a hulk from another age lying in the sands at the high tide line beneath modern beach houses. The bottom portion of the wooden hull extends along the beach, parallel to the shoreline. Rusted iron fittings jut out from the sand.

Local legends speculate that the ship could be a Civil War blockade runner or Prohibition era rum runner, beached and abandoned by her crew in a desperate attempt to evade pursuing ships.

The most common theory is less romantic, that the vessel is the schooner Rachel that ran aground while carrying a load of timber in 1925.

Surprised tourists and other beach visitors who come across the wreck often speculate that a recent storm must have washed the hulk ashore. The ship, however, is always there. Drifting sands cover the remains most of the time.

When a storm stirs the Gulf, however, the sea uncovers the ship again for a short time.

Most recently, Hurricane Isaac revealed the vessel in September. The ship has appeared before.

In 1970, a few months after Hurricane Camille struck the coast, a story in the Mobile Press-Register told how the wreck had been uncovered. At the time, an archaeological team from Mobile College, now the University of Mobile, examined the ship and speculated that it could be the remains of the Monticello, a Civil War blockade runner run aground near the site in 1861.

More recent examinations, however, have found the rusted remains of steel cables and other fittings seldom used until after the war.