North Star

The North Star (ex. Bonaventure) was a wooden-hulled eastern rig dragger that now lies in 100 feet of water on top of Stellwagen Bank. Built in 1967 by Royal K. Lowell of Portland, Maine, the vessel was 55 feet long and 45 gross tons. Based in Gloucester, the North Star actively fished in Massachusetts Bay until disaster struck on 28 August 2003.

North Star
The fishing vessel North Star in Gloucester Harbor.
Courtesy of the Parker Collection, Maritime Gloucester.

As the 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 cause the vessel to roll over.

North Star
Side scan sonar image of the North Star.
Courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS.


The North Star is fragmented into three pieces. The vessel’s hull is at the dive site’s north end. Separated by 100 feet, its clam dredge sits at the site’s southeast corner. Its deck machinery is due west of the clam dredge, still connected by its towing cable. The shipwreck sits on a sandy bottom and its propeller makes a great photo opportunity for SCUBA divers.

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

Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary, in partnership with Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, installed a subsurface mooring on this shipwreck. For more information download the mooring use guide here.

North Star Propeller
The North Star’s propeller is covered with several species of colorful invertebrates.
Photo by Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS

North Star
The North Star’s red-painted wooden hull is entangled with derelict fish gear.
Photo by Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS

North Star
A diver explores the North Star’s nearly inverted hull.
Photo by Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS



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