During the Lighthouse's first forty years of use, wrecks continued along the northern coast. Ship captains complained that the light was too dim or not lit at all. Some believe that the dimming of the light was done intentionally to cause ship wrecks in order to loot cargo aboard.
In March 1878 Captain Huehl of the S.S. Tybee reported that, on approaching Grand Turk at 2 a.m., he found himself in white water off the Northeast Reef, yet saw no light burning. On May 21st, the brig Lydia Coles, bound from New York to Cuba, struck the reef and became a total loss, after the wreckers had salvaged her valuable cargo. Stories such as these were a regular occurrence throughout the 1880s and 1890s, when several ships each season were wrecked.
Rumors abounded that Turk Islanders were capitalizing on the Reef in order to employ their "at the ready" and capable salvage operations for their own profit. In most cases where wrecks occured, there was no loss of life, but substantial loss of property.
In 1894, the local Government applied to the Trinity Imperial Lighthouse Service at Nassau to provide annual maintenance and inspection. The frequency of wrecks was subsequently reduced, but the treacherous Northeast Reef has, neverless, continued to claim ship wrecks.