The Adelaide Baker
In 20 feet of water, four miles south-southeast of Duck Key, lie the remains of a three-masted iron-rigged and reinforced wooden-hull bark. The major features of this ship, locally known as the Conrad and believed to be the Adelaide Baker, are scattered over a square quarter-mile area.
The Adelaide Baker was 153 feet long, with a draft of almost 21 feet. She signifies a period of time when the fledgling United States was growing and prospering. This was the "American Period" of shipping, in the 19th century, when the most efficient (and sometimes only) means of transporting goods was by vessel.
Today, the remaining parts of the ship host a diverse overgrowth of organisms such as gorgonians, sponges, and encrusting corals.
The Adelaide Baker, originally called the F.W. Carver, was built in 1863 in Bangor, Maine. She measured 153 feet between perpendiculars, had a beam of 35 feet and a depth of hold of 21 feet. Her double-decked hull was constructed of oak and hackmatack. Two years after being built, she was sheathed with copper.
After being sold to the British, she was renamed the Adelaide Baker. The wreck report documents that on January 28, 1889, she was bound for Savannah, Georgia, with a load of sawn timber when she wrecked on "Coffins Patches" Reef. The irregularly shaped granite ballast concentrated along the edge of the reef marks where she was first "holed," spilling ballast and lower cargo. The night of the shipwreck, wreckers in the area assisted the captain and crew to safety. There was no loss of life.
The Adelaide Baker's eroded remains are scattered along a north-northwest path 1,400 feet long. Most of the material is clustered in two areas. "Cluster A" is thought to be near the place where the ship went down. Large iron hold-beam-knee-riders and deck-beam-hanging-knees dominate this cluster. Nearby lie the lower portion of the mizzen mast and a metal water tank.
"Cluster B" appears to have been segregated and placed there by early salvors. The iron main mast, 77 feet long, is the dominant feature here. The remains of a bilge pump, knee-riders, iron deck bit, hawse-hole frames, and miscellaneous rigging and tackle are also parts of Cluster B.
Other features, separate from these clusters, are two additional mast sections, a pile of rigging, and a second water box.