The ship was next sighted by the Cape Lookout lightship off North Carolina on January 28, 1921, when the Deering hailed it. The lightship's keeper, Captain Jacobson, reported that a tall thin man with reddish hair and a foreign accent speaking through a megaphone told him the vessel had lost its anchors in a storm off Cape Fear and asked that the ship's owners, the G.G. Deering Company, be notified. Jacobson took note of this, but his radio was out, so he was unable to report it. He also noticed that the crew seemed to be "milling around" on the quarterdeck of the ship, an area where they were usually not allowed. The following afternoon, the crew of another vessel transiting the area spotted the Deering sailing a course that would take it directly onto the Diamond Shoals. They, however, saw no one on the ship's decks and didn't attempt to hail the schooner, assuming her crew would spot the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or the Diamond Shoals Lightship and change course to avoid wrecking on the shoals.
Due to rough waters, surf boats were unable to reach the wreck until February 4. It was then that it was confirmed that the Carroll A. Deering had been abandoned, and her crew had vanished. Their personal belongings, navigational equipment, papers, and the ship's anchors were also missing. Food in the galley was set out like it was being prepared for the next day’s meal. The FBI investigation that followed was unable to find a trace of the crew or the ship's logs.
Attempts were made to tow the ship’s wreckage, but ultimately, she was determined to be a hazard and on March 4, 1921 the Carroll A. Deering was destroyed and sunk. Wooden timbers from the schooner eventually washed ashore on Hatteras Island, and were used by locals to build houses.
The theories about what happened to the ill-fated Carroll A. Deering are plentiful. Many suggest piracy, while others point to a mutiny. Some even suggest it has something to do with the fact that it passed through a long stretch of the Bermuda Triangle on its journey. But what really happened has been lost to the sea forever.
Today, pieces of the Carroll A. Deering, including her bell and capstan, are on display at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.
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