Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635
Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named “Watch and Wait.” As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. Reverend John Avery, his wife and six children and his cousin Antony Thacher, his wife and their six children were on board, bound for Marblehead where Rev. Avery was to become pastor of that church.
On entering the bay, the wind blew with such force that no advance could be made, even by tacking. By midnight on the evening of Friday the 24th their sails were rent, the anchors dragged, and the ship was driven or the angry waves. The boat was dashed to pieces off Rockport on what is known as Crackwood’s Ledge. Mr. Avery and his eldest son and Mr. Thacher and his daughter were thrown into the sea, and were carried by the waves on the rocky island now known as Thatcher’s Island. No sooner had this happened than a second wave hurled Mr. Avery and his child back into the sea, never to be seen again. Shattered pieces of the boat’s frame crashed onto the rock, and holding on to one timber was Thatcher’s wife, who extricated herself to safety. Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher were the only survivors of the awful night, and he later recorded their terror:
“And as my cousin, his wife, and my tender babes sat comforting and cheering one the other in the Lord against ghastly death, which every moment stared us in the face, and sat triumphing upon each others’ forehead, we were by the violence of the waves and the fury of the winds (by the Lord’s permission), lifted up upon a rock between two high rocks, yet all was one rock, but it raged with the stroke which came into the pinnace. The waves came furiously and violently over and against us.”“Now look with me upon my distress and consider my misery… my goods and provisions swimming in the seas, my friends almost drowned, and mine own poor children so untimely… before mine eyes drowned and ready to be swallowed up, and dashed to pieces against the rocks by the merciless waves, and myself ready to accompany them.”
Wrecks of the coal schooners - Walking near Steep Hill Beach, you might be surprised to see lumps of anthracite coal lying on the sand. This would be a mystery were it not for the tragic history of brigs and schooners transporting coal in the 19th century. Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635 - Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named "Watch and Wait." As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847 - On December 17, 1847 the brig Falconer, loaded with bituminous coal, wrecked at Crane Beach during a fierce winter storm. A dozen of the crew and passengers are buried in a common grave at the Old North Burying Ground. Wreck of the Edward S. Eveleth, October 1922 - In October 1922, the sand schooner Edward S. Eveleth rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years. The skeleton of the hull is just off-shore a short distance from the wreck of the Ada K. Damon. Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839 - Dec. 23, 1839 two days before Christmas a storm caught the schooner "Deposit" on her passage out of Belfast, Maine. Capt. Cotterall was lost, and several of the crew were buried at the Old South Cemetery. Wreck of the Ada K. Damon - Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years. The ship was wrecked during the captain's first trip for a load of sand from the plentiful supply on Plum Island. The Spectre Ship of Salem - On the fourth day after the ship left port, the sun came out and in the distance could be seen the same ship sailing effortlessly back into port directly into the wind. As the Noah’s Dove approached, its passengers including the young couple were visible but ghost-like. The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar - The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. The hull of the Ada K. Damon sits on Steep Hill Beach. The Ipswich lighthouse - In 1881, a 45-foot cast iron lighthouse was erected at Crane Beach, replacing an earlier structure. By 1913, the sand had shifted so much that the lighthouse was 1,090 feet from the high water mark. Use of the light was discontinued in 1932 and in 1939 the Coast Guard floated the entire lighthouse to Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel - In August 1635, the 240-ton Angel Gabriel sank in Pemaquid Bay after sailing into the most intense hurricane in New England history. Among the survivors were members of the Cogswell, Burnham and Andrews families, who settled in an area of Ipswich known as Chebacco. The ”October Gale” of 1841 - In the latter part of September, 1841, was a long, unbroken spell of uncomfortable weather, which culminated in a violent and cold storm of wind, snow and rain on the night of October 2, continuing four days. Hurricanes and winter storms - Massachusetts has the highest probability of all of the states to be hit by an ocean storm, which includes hurricanes and nor'easters.