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Underwater Forest

Started by Riley Smith, Feb 04, 2024, 08:29 AM

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Riley Smith

I'm very interested in buried wood in our rivers. Here's a link to a video on the underwater forest off Alabama that was discovered awhile back due to the currents of Hurricane Ivan. My brother-in-law told me that a well drilling operation near me drilled through ten feet of cypress at roughly 50 ft underground. Just like the video, the well diggers said the wood particles still smelt like cypress. And one of my diver friends  was hired to find out why a dragline kept hitting something very hard where they were digging a channel for a boat. Turns out they were hitting a cypress tree buried in the mud that was ten feet in diameter. It was so big they re-routed the channel.

As you might suppose I'm surfing the web this morning. It has rained at least 2" overnight and the river is going to be a sight to see in a day or two once all that water heads my way. I think I'll stay warm and DRY! ;D,lower%20than%20they%20are%20today.


After seeing (and finding) how many visible and buried cypress trees there are near the shores of Albemarle Sound and its creeks, I would never own a sailboat without a kick-up centerboard and rudder.

Every storm brings large branches or entire trees down.  And then are the wind-blown cypress needles that can cling to any surface at any angle to clog up the cockpit drains.  At the water's edge are the cypress knees with mud between that make walking very difficult.  At the same time, the cypress provide much wanted shade most of the year, minimal leaves compared to other trees, and a home for a fantastic range of birds and critters.

Fortunately, I have enough down cypress logs that I don't need a breakwater to protect the land from erosion from boat wakes. Turtles sun themselves on the downed logs, and herons stand beside them.  Eagles and buzzards patrol for fish and rodents.  Striped bass jump between the logs.  Canadian geese go to poop where there's easier access to the grassy slopes in yards.  There's something special about the cypress swamps and waterways.

Can't figure out how to post photos directly from my phone or computer.

Fred W
Stuart Mariner 19 #4133  Sweet P
Yeopim Creek, Albemarle Sound, NC

Riley Smith

I too like the centerboard. Here, a fixed keel/dagger board makes little sense unless you're actually offshore. The rest of the place is shallow and filled with deadheads and rubble. Having to stay in a channel takes away from the majority of the water available. I don't have a kick-up rudder but the barn door style on the catboat is flush with the bottom of the boat and doesn't present a problem except being heavy on the tiller downwind.  Cypress is great wood in that it is very rot-resistant but it does have one problem. The stuff we get nowadays will crack/separate between the annular lines for no apparent reason.

Captain Kidd

Can't remember the details, but I was reading about harvesting submerged trees for boat building. It was either Australia or Tasmania. It was quite a prized commodity and of superior quality.

Norm L.

I was going to mention sinker cypress. I remember the first mention of it several decades ago.

As in old things and new money recovery of sinker cypress has become a nice business. Just look it up to see there are companies around the south.

It takes some getting them from where they were buried and then out of the swamp and then TLC but you end up with beautiful and expensive wood for those who want custom and braggable furniture and paneling. 

Having a cypress everywhere we lived I decided to use fallen branches for gifts. I made up a number of these for a gift for special friends.

You cannot view this attachment.

A wood vise, saw and hand plane. Easier than a boat. 

Riley Smith

I have a mantle (heirloom) made from pecky or sinker cypress. No picture at the moment but it's an impressive piece of wood. Unique and the story behind it is icing on the cake. So some of my brother's friends were in the habit of snaking wood out of the swamp during high water events. They'd find a downed tree and tow it to a landing and get it sawed up. It was more a hobby than an enterprise but once they ran across a section of sinker cypress that had been grounded on some of the rare high ground in the swamp. The story is that it had the initials of the local wildlife conservation officer carved in it which they say they didn't notice until it was at the sawmill and by then it was too late. They were actually related to said wildlife officer and in case you didn't know, being a wildlife officer in Mississippi in somewhere along the lines of being a robber baron in the Middle Ages. They did save the chunk of wood with the initials and I was told it was deposited in the mailbox of said officer. At any rate, my mother somehow found out about the exceptional piece of wood and had to have it, which is how I wound up with it. I have absolutely no idea the money involved but can testify that I couldn't afford it if I had to buy it from a dealer.
 On a different note, the town of Moss Point used to be sawmill central. There were dozens of them ringing the areas on the river and there is STILL wood there. The logs would be floated down the river to the mills. The centerboard cap for my catboat is made from a piece I pulled out of the mud at one of the sites. Pitch pine with 42 annular rings per inch. Along the same lines as Buffets song, I was a hundred years too late to see that forest but there are indications and a very few pictures. And if you know where to look, wood, buried and protected in the mud.


That underwater forest is pretty much top secret here in Alabama, as soon as someone published about it (possibly that Alabama article you published above) someone tried to extract the wood to make furniture and mine the site.

They're trying to make it into a National Park or preserved site.  I'd love to dive it someday, once the coordinates are published.  And I have another sailboat, that is.  Currently looking for one now, for down there on the bays (Gulf Shores) and coastal cruising. 

My daughter works here, and wrote this article with updated info:,201092?
I see a white sail skipping 'cross a blue bay, And I say someday I will
I see a young man strumming on a green guitar And I say someday I will - Jimmy Buffett (RIP)