Cape May’s Concrete Ship: A Valentine

Cape May, NJ – Go to the little cove known as Sunset Beach and, in the distance, you can see a bump in the Delaware Bay.

It’s the deteriorating hulk of a once massive ship. Her name is Atlantus.

The remains of Atlantus have no function and certainly no beauty. There’s no reason for anyone to pay attention to such a decrepit relic of a bygone era.

But we do.

For some inexplicable reason, we love our concrete ship.

Atlantus didn’t always look so weather worn.

Here she is in her younger days, full of hope and promise.

One of her plum assignments was to cross the Atlantic to bring soldiers home from World War I. She was headed for a cushy retirement. The concrete ship came to Cape May to be used as part of a ferry dock for the new Cape May Ferry.

Perhaps this gentle warrior didn’t like that idea.

During a June storm, Atlantus broke away from her mooring and ended up stuck in the sand.

Despite repeated efforts to dislodge her, as the story goes, the owner just left her there.
That was 1926.

You have to forgive the lady if, 88 years later, after years of battering by the sea, the sun and the wind, she’s showing her age.

That doesn’t stop the steady stream of visitors and locals. We visit Atlantus in all seasons of the year. We take photos. We sit and gaze at her. As we admire her, we know that, slowly, she is losing her fight with nature’s forces. This winter was particularly tough.

Yet, even in her old age, it can be argued she never looked more majestic than this winter, surrounded by the frozen Delaware Bay.

She’s a survivor. Atlantus comes from a different world. Very little is as it was 88 years ago.

Maybe that’s the reason we continue to visit this remaining fragment of a once massive concrete ship.

We want to hold onto whatever is left of the ship, and the past she represents, just a little longer.


About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.