On the evening of December 5, 1921 the sloop John Wesley drug anchor during a winter storm and went aground at 5:00 a.m. She was four miles NW of the Hatteras Inlet station.
At first light Surfman W.H. Gaskins reported the incident to Officer in Charge Barnett. The lifesavers arrived at the scene at 8:20 a.m. to discover the vessel with the water too shallow and the seas running so high that they could not approach the sloop in the lifeboat. They returned to the station for a smaller boat and were finally able to get through the breakers to the sloop.
Upon their arrival they found the Wesley, commanded by Mr. J.J. Gannon, of Old Point Comfort, VA, fast aground on the reef, pounding very hard with every wave and leaking. The lifesavers worked unsuccessfully to float the vessel before returning to the station so the captain could send a telegram and for Barnett to notify the superintendent to request the assistance of the Coast Guard cutter Pamlico.
When the wind began to increase, making it extremely unsafe for the other men to remain on the sloop, the lifesavers returned and brought them to the station. The following morning the crew went out to investigate the condition of the sloop. Barnett reported:
"... on arrival found - that she had gone further on reef, also there was about 18-inches of water in the hole. Cutter arrived at 10 a.m. but could be of no assistance ... I brought all of the personal effects of the crew to the station, after an unsuccessful effort to pull the sloop with the windlass. Dec 12 ... make a trial to float it on high water. On Dec 14, there being a higher tide than usual, made another effort to float it, but after many hours of strenuous work and unsuccessful efforts had to give it up for this day. On Dec 15 ... on arrival found that it was filled with water and sand. On investigating found it was working to pieces and no chance to save her. Give her up as a wreck, the owner selling it."
The Wesley was enroute to Tampa, FL from Hampton, VA. The five crewmen spent 15 days at the station, where they furnished their own meals.