A 20-foot wooden cross that washed ashore outside of the Ocean Manor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, F.L. on Saturday made waves throughout the Sunshine State, but days after the cross appeared, the significance of the discovery hit close to home.
Family members and friends in Hatteras village believe that the wooden cross, which was encrusted in barnacles when it came ashore 1,002 miles away, is an original part of a memorial that was erected for Capt. Richard Baran, who went missing off of Hatteras Inlet in January, 2016.
Capt. Baran’s sister, Robin Stowe, told the Miami Herald that she believed the cross stemmed from her brother’s memorial, and friend Capt. Aaron Aaron also told the paper that he recognized the cross that he built from the notch and eye bolts that were set to one side.
Sandy Fletcher of Hatteras Harbor Marina was a friend of Richard Baran and was close to him, as she is with all the 40 mariners who call the Hatteras Harbor Marina home, and she also believes that the cross originated from the tribute they created in Hatteras in April, 2016.
“We went out into the Pamlico Sound – It was several inshore captains and us girls that work in the office – and we put it up in his honor because he did what he always does, and he went missing. We never could find him,” she says.
The cross filled an entire boat when it was transported to its Hatteras soundside location, and the group took a pump out to the site as well to remove sand, and to make a hole that was big enough to keep the cross stationary in the water.
“We all wrote [messages] on it, which are probably not on there anymore, but if Arron says he noticed his own handiwork, I believe him,” she says.
The cross was erected in April of 2016 and stood vigilant for more than a year, until it apparently washed away with a storm in the fall of 2017.
And though the Miami Herald reported that the Ocean Manor Beach Resort has received many calls from people who are claiming ownership of the cross, the discovery has brought mixed emotions for everyone who knew Capt. Baran, and who continue to miss his presence at the Hatteras Harbor Marina, and in the local Hatteras Island waters.
“It’s amazing. I haven’t thought about this in such a long time – not since January anyway – and now, it’s like he’s right here,” says Sandy. “It’s heart wrenching and heartwarming, all at the same time.”