A menace lurking just below the waters of the Rappahannock will soon be safely marked and mapped due to a joint venture between two Essex and Richmond County organizations.
On May 9, Tappahannock Councilman and Essex Rotary member Pete Trible presented a plan to Richmond County Supervisors, formulated in conjunction with the Warsaw-Richmond County Rotary, to finally install buoys at what he called the “Ghost of the Caponka.”
The Caponka, a wrecked and sunken vessel, rests just outside Hoskins Creek but before the navigable channel of the Rappahannock River.
For years, it was visible to boaters, however, that has recently changed.
“It has been there for a number of decades and it was utilized for a long time after it ran aground as an entertainment spot for local youngsters drinking Coca-Cola and cooking s’mores,” Trible said, eliciting chuckles from board members. “Eventually it burned down and through years of storms it eroded down to a skeleton of its former self.”
Trible noted that currently, at high tide, only the forward capstan anchor is visible to boaters. In a follow-up interview, he added that there exists an increasing risk of an accident at the location, especially during a storm.
“Once it opens up, if you’ve ever come out of Hoskins Creek, the inclination would be for people who are unfamiliar to go straight. At high tide you very well could come into contact with the Caponka,” Trible said at the meeting, adding that for years there has been an ongoing debate as to in whose jurisdiction the boat resides.
“There has been a lot of discussion as to what to do about the Caponka,” Trible said. “Whether it was in the bailiwick of the Coast Guard, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), the Commonwealth of Virginia, Essex or Richmond County.”
Trible said that after due diligence and research, the two Rotaries decided to fix the problem themselves, with the assistance of the community and local businesses.
“In recent years [we have] been involved more so in joint ventures with Richmond County-Warsaw Rotary and we thought it would be a good opportunity to assist the community and bring attention to the Rotary operating as a joint venture between the two bodies with regard to the fundraising effort which would require purchasing the buoys and having them installed,” Trible said.
He added that estimates for properly marking off the wreck have come in between $1,200 to $1,400 and would be split between the two rotaries.
Once marked, it will be overseen by DGIF and mapped for boaters safety, Trible said, adding that there would be no liability for either county and that it would be a boon to law enforcement should a crash occur at the site.
Trible noted that all he needed was approval from the board to publish a public notice of the intent to mark the wreck. His request was met with unanimous approval from the board.
“I think this is something that has been knocked around for years and I’ve heard this being debated for years and I am relieved that the Rotary clubs have grabbed the bull by the horns and done something,” said Dist. 3 Supervisor John Haynes.