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Replica of ship that crossed Atlantic with colonists stuck (again) in her own harbor

The Elizabeth II, shown here in Manteo,  is again stuck in its Manteo harbor by shallow water.
The Elizabeth II, shown here in Manteo, is again stuck in its Manteo harbor by shallow water. File photo

A replica of the 16th-century ship that brought the first English colonists to North Carolina's Roanoke Island is again stuck at its Manteo dock by shallow water.

The state-owned Elizabeth II was built in 1983 and donated to the state to mark the 400th anniversary of the landing. The wooden ship needs to be hauled out each winter for maintenance, but shoaling where Shallowbag Bay meets Pamlico Sound has kept it at its dock since 2016.

“The crucial thing is to get her out of that harbor,” Dare County commissioner Ernie Foster said at a recent meeting, the Outer Banks Sentinel reported. “Because if we do nothing, she’ll sink where she sits.”

Dare commissioners approved a resolution this week supporting emergency dredging of the channel that leads to Shallowbag Bay, the Outer Banks Voice reported.

Tod Clissold, chairman of the nonprofit that supports the ship and the adjacent park, told Coastal Review Online last December that the vessel has managed to get through the shoaled area only when the wind is just right. Even then, it once got stuck all night.

“They had to wait for the wind to shift” to free the boat, Clissold said.

It's not the first time the Elizabeth II has been stranded. Private donations funded the $650,000 needed to build the ship, and the state paid $685,000 to dredge a channel to get it to the sea.

State officials had planned for the 65-foot ship to visit other ports on North Carolina's coast but learned it was too big to sail out of Shallowbag Bay, the New York Times reported in a 1985 story about a "ship that couldn't sail." The Elizabeth draws 8 feet of water but the channel was only 3 to 4 feet deep in places.

''It's not as dumb as it looks,'' a state official told the Times. ''When we built the ship in Manteo, we anticipated that the federal government was going to dredge the old navigation channel leading out of the harbor.''

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender
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