48-foot hull of a well-preserved 18th century vessel dubbed the 'Holy Grail of shipwrecks' washes ashore on Florida beach with copper tacks and roman numeral etchings still intact
The fascinating remains of a historic 18th century ship have washed ashore on a Florida beach.
The 48-foot wooden hull of a gigantic shipwreck was discovered by Julie Turner and her son Patrick, eight, on Ponte Vedra Beach around 8am Tuesday.
Little did the pair realize that the wreck was centuries old and has been hailed as the 'holy grail' of shipwrecks.
Experts speculate that the wreck may have laid under sand offshore for years, then washed onto the beach due to storm activity, explaining how the ship remained so well preserved.
Local man Marc Anthony, who owns Spanish Main Antiques and proclaims to be a treasure hunter, said the ship appears to be from the 18th century.
'To actually see this survive and come ashore. This is very, very rare. This is the holy grail of shipwrecks,' he said to CBS47.
The wooden hull revealed copper-covered tack heads, evidence that the whole ship was originally sheathed in copper.
Wooden pegs and nails were visible on the aged wooden beams as well.
Roman numerals carved onto the ribs of the ship were also somehow preserved on the centuries-old ship.
Turner, who discovered the wreck, said she immediately knew she and her son had found a relic from the past.
'We walked and checked it out and immediately knew it was a historical piece of artifact,' she said.
'When I looked out the window, it was immediately a ship,' her son Patrick said.
Maritime experts on the site said they had long waited for a wreck like this to wash ashore.Maritime historian Brendan Burke believes that the ship could date back to the 1700s.
'This is what we were born for,' Burke said to Jacksonville.com on the discovery.
'It’s really amazing to see somebody’s writing that's been buried in the ocean for well more than a century,' he added.
Researchers from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum measured and photographed the wreck on Wednesday to recreate it as a 3-D model, with the hopes of finding out what the ship may have originally looked like.
It is not yet clear what kind of ship the wreck once was.
'Taking lots of notes, doing drawings, mapping it out. There are so many details that go into trying to assess the date, where it came from,' Tonya Creamer of St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum said to CBS47.
Three pieces of wood from the wreck also washed on the beach, several yards away.
The maritime experts and locals alike now worry over the state of the ship that is yet to be removed and has already been beat by waves threatening to reclaim it to the deep blue.
Creamer added that it is up to the state of Florida to determine the future of the historic shipwreck.
'This is state land, state beach area, so we just share our knowledge and our information, what we’re documenting right now, with officials and it's up to them what to do next,' she said.