Coffins Beach Shipwreck Follow Up From Jim Salem and second Update From Victor T. Mastone

View Marty Luster’s Original Post Here

Hi Joey,

Great meeting you at the Gloucester Farmer’s Market. It was fun to see the nice photos you took and posted of my daughter working there!

I took a few more photos of the old shipwreck that you can see at low tide along the middle of Coffin’s Beach.  I’ve attached the best one here.  It would be fun to hear people’s thoughts around the age and provenance of the craft. Enjoy!


It’s about 30′ long by 10′ wide.

if anyone has anything to add to the story please add your info in the comments to this post

Second Update 7/18/14
Victor T. Mastone

Captain Joey,

We haven’t spoken in a while. Your always a good source of information and as I promised in the past, I just wanted to let you know that our program has started investigating the unidentified shipwreck which recently became exposed on Coffins Beach. We were out there yesterday and spoke with a few local residents. They had never seen the wreck before and several lived there for about 40 years. Our files list a few wrecks in the area, but those vessels were much larger than this shipwreck. The exposed portion of the wreck is about 34 feet long, though probing suggests it is about 40 feet long; width is roughly 14 feet max. Metal fittings were not evident. If you have heard of anything about the wreck. I’d like to hear from you. otherwise, I’ll keep you posted on what we find out.

Most people don’t get to see real shipwreck too often. So, it is an interesting opportunity to visit this window to our maritime past. While there is really nothing to take, most people do not realize that the site is protected by state law. It is my hope people respect the site and completely refrain from removing any of it or otherwise disturb or damage the site when they visit.

Speak with you soon.

Best regards,


Victor T. Mastone
Director and Chief Archaeologist
Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources
251 Causeway Street, Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114


  • From 1872-1894, Dennison Hooper was keeper at Annisquam. In 1879, his son Edward was born there. Later Edward was to write to historian Edward Rowe Snow about his years at the light, including a tale about two shipwrecks and a rescue attempt on September 26, 1888.

    The two-masted schooner I.W. Hine ran aground on Coffin’s Beach. Luckily, the crew was able to make it to shore and to refloat the schooner. However, events did not go as well for the three-masted schooner the Abbie B. Cramer carrying coal out of Baltimore bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. After it wrecked on Coffin’s Beach, the ship’s crew was forced to cling to the rigging for the entire day praying for help.

    The crew of the Davis Neck Lifesaving Station arrived and repeatedly tried in vain to land a line for a breeches buoy. A group of volunteers from the Massachusetts Humane Society was mustered to launch a boat long kept for this purpose from the lighthouse. First they had to row the boat across the river to the west side. From there they had to carry the boat two miles to the beach near the wreck. Somehow after they launched the boat again, they managed to save the entire crew. However, the Cramer was a complete loss, and Hopper recalled seeing parts of the ship sticking from the sand at low tide for years. Maybe this is it?


  • There are 3 boats down there and the stand to the old light house was exposed last year.


  • There is a wreck similar to this on the far end of Crane Beach at the mouth of the Ipswich River. The ranger told me it was an old sand barge – used to transport sand to other communities. Might be one of those.


  • Very interesting here and good follow-up : Thanks 🙂 Kim:-)


  • I spend my younger years(1950’s and 60’s)at “Coffin” Beach, although we knew it as Wingaersheek then. My sister thinks she remembers a wreck at low tide back in the day. My Great Grandfather James D. Hawks and his brother Edward bought Coffin Beach and the now public Wingaersheek Beach in the late 1890’s and named all of it Wingaersheek. They built the “castles” at the Essex river end of the beach and then a smaller bungalow closer to the other end of the beach. I remember hearing stories that they would take a boat from the beach to get across to Annisquam and then take other transportation into Gloucester. Otherwise, it was a very long trip around the other way that we all use today!. My Great Uncle Russell Hawks owned the “farmhouse” which still stands behind a few houses to the right just after you enter through the stone gates into Coffin Beach. He owned a business transporting sand via a barge to Essex and thereabouts. Unfortunately, I don’t know any further history about that business. I have been gradually putting together information such as land deeds and family lore from Wingaersheek. I’ll keep you posted about any information that I come across regarding any shipwrecks. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help at this time!


  • When I initially checked our files and I found the records for Abbie B. Cramer (also listed as Crammer or Cranmer). Unfortunately, that 3 masted schooner is much too large (119.8 feet) and twice as wide to be the wreck uncovering on Coffins Beach.

    The shipwreck at the Crane Estate is likely the Ada K. Damon which wrecked in 1909. It is at about the mid-point of Steep Hill Beach. The Damon was there to remove sand for transport to Boston. I believe the Dmaon broke its back (keel) and was abandoned. We inspected that site in 2005. There is an intersting photograph at the Estate from 1911 showing children palying onthe wreck. That shipwreck was over 80 feet long. it was Essex built.

    I’d been very interest to learn more precisely the locations of the three boats and old lighthouse stand mentioned in the post submitted by “happy me”.

    In looking back at some of the other original posts, there is some useful information. During my recent visit, I was told that the name of the lobsterboat was the Aquarius and its wrecking site was further north along the beach. The gillnetter Anna T fits the size of the extant shipwreck remains. All these leads are quite helpful.

    On the more speculative level, colonial records also report a shallop lost in that area.


Leaving a comment rewards the author of this post- add to the discussion here-

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s