North Star (ex Bonaventure)

A black and white hsip at a dock
North Star in Gloucester Harbor. Photo: Len Parker Collection, Maritime Gloucester

Ship Stats

A view of a shipwreck taken from the sand of the seafloor
The hull has flipped over and ribs range outward. Photo: Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS

Depth: 100 feet

Length: 55 feet Breadth: 20-25 feet
Depth of Hold: N/A

Tonnage: 45 gross tons

Built: 1967, eastern rig dragger, Portland, Maine

Port of Registry: USA

Owner: Royal K. Lowell

Date Lost: August 28, 2003

Crew: 2

Sunk By: Capsize Survivors: 2 out of 2

Data Collected on Site: Scuba diver photography

Significance: This former recreational diving site is no longer available for use due to damage from fishing activity.

scanof a shipwreck
scan of a shipwreck

A comparison of side-scan sonar images from 2016 and 2017 show that the pieces of the North Star wreck have been moved significant distances. Photos: SBNMS

Present Day

scan of a shipwreck
Site map for North Star showing deck machinery, hull, clam dredge, and mooring. All items have been moved or destroyed by fishing activities. Map: NOAA/SBNMS

North Star was fragmented into three pieces during its sinking. The vessel's hull was at the dive site's north end. Separated by 100 feet, its clam dredge sat at the site's southeast corner. Its deck machinery was positioned due west of the clam dredge, still connected by its towing cable. The shipwreck sat on a sandy bottom that was actively fished. It appears that scallop gear may have significantly moved and damaged the pieces of the wreck.

North Star's Former Coordinates:
42-23.052 N x 70-21.343 W

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, had installed a subsurface mooring on this shipwreck, which is no longer available.

Historical Background

A diver examens the propeller of a shipwreck covered in marine growth
A diver inspects the North Star's propeller. Photo: Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS

Based in Gloucester, North Star actively fished in Massachusetts Bay until disaster struck on August 28, 2003. As North Star's crew lifted its clam dredge aboard, the vessel heeled over and began to capsize. The two crew members onboard escaped before the vessel sank but were forced to swim in the cold ocean. Fortunately, the vessel Half Fast was nearby and came to their rescue. A Coast Guard rescue boat met the Half Fast as it carried the fishermen towards Cape Cod and brought the men into Provincetown's dock for medical care. The Coast Guard incident report determined that the weight of clams already onboard coupled with the weight of the clams in the dredge caused the vessel to roll over.

Part of a shipwreck covered in fishing nets
Fishing nets drape a section of the hull. Photo: Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS
A diver shines a light on a shipwreck
The clam dredge dwarfs the diver swimming nearby. Photo: Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS
A diver inspects a shipwreck
Before fishing activity disturbed the site, the North Star provided interesting marine life views for divers. Photo: Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS