He thought he was saving a piece for posterity’s sake, but in reality, he was defacing an unofficial local monument.

According to an update from OBXToday posted earlier this week, the local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not further investigate a case of alleged vandalism on a left-behind boat known to residents and tourists who frequent “The Outer Banks” as the “Belle Shipwreck.” Local photographer Wes Snyder brought this egregious bit of fiberglass snipping to everyone’s attention when, upon visiting the site of the wreckage, he noticed a sizeable chunk of the boat’s name was cut out. A tip to a post on another Facebook post revealed that a Fredericksburg, VA resident not only cut out the piece in question, but posted about it shortly after.

Here’s the post that sparked public outcry with a healthy dose of mixed emotions below.

The Island Free Press highlighted “The Belle’s” demise shortly after the boat ran ashore in 2013. Supposedly, the Belle was one of two boats sourced by a boating enthusiast and self-proclaimed sailor after Hurricane Sandy ran its course. Towing the “Belle” to South Carolina for repairs, he fell asleep and awoke after both his boats ran ashore on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The other boat was damaged beyond repair, was subsequently cut in half, and hauled away piece by piece. The Belle, however, was repairable. Presumably, despite several attempts to patch the boat up to continue on, he never got around to it and the Belle became a semi-permanent fixture on The Outer Banks.

Painted on, written over, and, overall, stuck in the middle of nowhere on this forlorned piece of beach, locals turned it into an unofficial vista point of sorts, photos of the shipwreck scattered everywhere on social media.

But, as the OBXToday spells out,

Agency spokesman Mark Davis said the Belle “has been on the strand so long it’s now considered debris, not property.”

How could Fish and Wildlife intervene against the destruction of a piece of debris? They can’t.

An unwritten rule

I suppose it became an unwritten rule. No one should move or drastically alter this shipwreck. Just like those upturned cars on Cadillac Ranch, leave your mark, but there’s a line you don’t cross. Taking a sawzall to the fiberglass hull definitely crossed that line.

As mentioned, there was a mixed bag of emotions on Wes Snyder’s post. Crossposted on Oregon Inlet Idiots, Ben Stone commented that,

Comments on here cracking me up. That boat had been there way too long. I saw it for the first time right after it washed up. Full of gear still. Other people have stripped that thing clean. It may not have been the best thing to do but people calling him evil is hilarious. It’s a piece of crap boat from NY. Not Blackbeard’s getaway skiff FFS.

Most mirrored Mary Cowan’s sentiments,

I’m sorry, what right do you have to do this?I have enjoyed walking the beach and seeing her ahead on the beach. She has been there for years! You have taken what doesn’t belongto you…very sad day…

He planned to cut, but no one stopped him.

Ohio resident Kathleen Rae posted this screenshot below, Christopher Lopez planned to sawz-all the name several weeks before he did it. It looks like no one commented on what a travesty that would be.

If there’s a silver lining to any of this, hopefully this public outcry will be a warning to others who have any bright ideas. Just leave the “debris” alone.

Mother nature and time will slowly take care of this ship.

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