Shore Lore: What’s in a Name

It was indeed a dark and stormy night, like many that winter of 1817. The wreckmasters’ crews were standing by as a nor’easter raged.

According to the late John Bailey Lloyd, author of Six Miles at Sea, Captain Stephen Willets of Tuckerton was steering his schooner northward off Long Beach Island when a southbound captain alerted him to cries for help along the shoreline. Willets’s crew located an overturned ship battered against the shoals and saw corpses floating in the surf. Through the keening wind, a crew mate heard rapping from inside the hull of the overturned ship. When the crew took axes to the hull, there emerged a beautiful woman. There’s no record of the wrecked ship’s name or what became of her dark-haired survivor, but more than a century later the town at the island’s center was christened Ship Bottom. Last year a misguided developer proposed renaming the place, claiming that Ship Bottom projected a negative image. He was roundly hooted and, much like the rescued lady of the long-ago wreck, was not heard from again.

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