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Merrimack Valley

February 12, 2013

Blizzard of 2013 unearths shipwreck from 1894


Built in Newton, Md., in 1874, the ill-fated, three-masted schooner was a 296-ton vessel with a 33-foot beam, drawing 9.8 feet of water, according to Sargent. But in April 1894, loaded with a cargo of stone, the Jennie Carter, her crew and Captain Wesley T. Ober ran into trouble 40 miles southwest of Highland Light on Cape Cod in the midst of “one of the worst storms in 30 years,” Sargent wrote.

As the ship struggled at sea, George Courant, the captain of the Gloucester schooner Smuggler, pulled up alongside of her upon learning the Jennie Carter’s rudder and foremast were gone and the bowsprit damaged.

“The Jennie’s captain, Wesley T. Ober, told Captain Courant that he would stay with his ship and could bring her into port,” Sargent wrote. “After lingering nearby for several hours, the Smuggler sailed on.”

But with snow blinding her crew, the storm’s gales tossed the ship for a hundred miles around the Cape and into dangerous waters between Portsmouth and Salisbury, Sargent wrote.

The final blow was dealt the Jennie Carter when it smashed into one of the jetties, Gulazian said; then the battered boat came to its final resting place on the sands of Salisbury Beach, remaining there through time and tide to this day.

“Abel Souther and William L. Fowler rowed out to investigate and found Captain and crew gone,” Sargent wrote. “Had they remained on board, they might have been saved, for in the captain’s cabin a low fire still burned in the stove and the ship’s cat curled in a cushion on the captain’s chair.”

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