Acara – The "Tea Wreck" of 1902
By James Donahue
The partly sunken remains of the 380-foot steel-hulled British freighter Acara lies in the boneyard
of shipwrecks off the coast of Long Island, New York. It is known as the "Tea Wreck" because it was carrying 50,000 cases
of Chinese tea when it was driven aground in a gale on March 1, 1902.
The ship was steaming from England to New York with a cargo of tea plus 14,800 100-pound ingots of
tin and an assorted cargo of spices, rubber and gum when it grounded just east of Jones Inlet at 2 a.m.
The crew launched two life boats. The first boat with 44 crew members made it safely to shore. The
second boat with only17 men capsized. By then, however, lifesavers were on the scene and all of the swimming sailors were
Salvage vessels stood by the Acara waiting for the storm to subside before attempting to remove cargo
and attempt to pull the vessel back into deep water. Unfortunately the pounding seas broke the doomed freighter at the keel,
sending the ship and its cargo to the bottom.
The water was shallow enough that much of the wreck still can be seen above the water line. Salvagers
were able to recover a large number of the tin ingots, but the remainder of the cargo was destroyed.
Today, much of the wreck is broken up. Parts of the superstructure still rises about 15 feet from
the bottom but much of the wreck has been buried in sand. Divers still visit the wreck, and fishermen like to drop their lines
over the wreck as it has provided a good home for black fish, sea bass and even lobsters.
The Acara was launched in England in 1898 so was only four years old when it wrecked. It was owned
by James Marke Wood of Liverpool.