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A Vero Beach Treasure

The Breconshire’s remains have a place in our city’s history – and its future.

The wreck serves as a playground for a variety of fishes, and has become a popular diving attraction.

The wreck serves as a playground for a variety of fishes, and has become a popular diving attraction.

“What is that out there?” 

It’s the most commonly asked question of lifeguards at Humiston Beach, and for good reason. About 400 yards offshore, a flag waves conspicuously above the water. Just below the surface is the bow anchor of the Breconshire, a cargo ship that ran aground in Vero Beach more than a century ago. When the tide is low enough, you can see the tip of what’s left of the ship.

Until the hurricanes hit in 2004, the Breconshire’s boiler was exposed, prompting beachgoers to express concern instead of curiosity. “People used to come up and say, ‘Hey, there’s a whale out there,’” says Lieutenant Lifeguard Tom Adams, who has worked the local beaches for 35 years. “Now it’s ‘Why is that flagpole there?’”

The Breconshire has been a talking point since April 30, 1894 when it ran aground on a moonless night after two months at sea. “The wreck of the Breconshire was notable because of the total lack of drama or tragedy associated with the event,” Michael Barnette writes in Shipwrecks of the Sunshine State: Florida’s Submerged History. Indeed the story isn’t particularly compelling – everyone survived, no riches were left behind – but the Breconshire’s remains have become a treasured part of our city’s history.