March 15 - 1924: One of the last six-masted schooners is lost off Cape Cod

1820: The day Massachusetts lost Maine. 2007: Vessel severely wounds endangered right whale
The Wyoming came to an end in Pollock Rip, the ocean swirl which lies between Chatham and Nantucket.

1924: Coast Guard confirms loss of six-masted schooner Wyoming on Pollock Rip

The Wyoming was the largest wooden schooner ever built

On this day in 1924, the Coast Guard discovered the wreck of one of the last six-masted schooners ever built.

The Wyoming, launched from the Percy & Small shipyard in Bath, Maine, had sunk off Pollock Rip in a terrible gale with the loss of her entire crew of 18.

Lifebelts bearing the name of the Wyoming "were found among heaps of wreckage washed ashore on Thursday in Madaket Harbor on Nantucket Island," according to the Lima (Ohio) News.

A lifebelt with the name Alaska was also found, giving rise to fears that the two-masted schooner Alaska also sank in the storm.

Those fears turned out to be unfounded when the Alaska was determined to be in Machias, Maine for repairs.

The Percy & Small shipyard is today home to the Maine Maritime Museum and draws thousands of visitors every year.

What is a schooner?

According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, the first ship called a schooner was built by builder Andrew Robinson and launched in 1713 from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Legend has it that the name schooner was the result of a spectator exclaiming "Oh how she scoons", scoon being a Scots word meaning to skip or skim over the water. Robinson replied, "A schooner let her be."

There was no set number of masts for a schooner. A small schooner has two or three masts, but they were built with as many as six (e.g. the wooden six-masted Wyoming) or seven masts to carry a larger volume of cargo.

1820: Massachusetts loses Maine

Some say we should have kept Maine and given away Massachusetts

In January, 1820, a bill to separate Maine from Massachusetts and admit it to the Union as a state passed the Congress. The admission of Alabama as a slave state the year before had brought the slave states and free states to equal representation in the Senate, and it was seen that by pairing Maine (certain to be a free state) and Missouri, this equality would be maintained.

On this day in 1820, Massachusetts lost over 30,000 square miles of land as its former province of Maine gained statehood. Mainers had begun campaigning for statehood in the years following the Revolution.

The Massachusetts legislature finally consented in 1819. What no one in either Massachusetts or Maine foresaw, however, was that Maine's quest for statehood would become entangled in the most divisive issue in American history — slavery. Most Mainers supported abolition.

They were dismayed that their admission to the Union was linked to the admission of Missouri as a slave state. This controversial "Missouri Compromise" preserved — for a few more decades — the delicate balance between pro- and anti-slavery forces in the U.S. Congress. See the actual document here.

2007: Ship severely wounds endangered right whale

PCCS aerial shows deep propeller wound off Cape Cod

On this day in 2007 a critically-endangered North Atlantic right whale with deep propeller wounds on its right flank, clear evidence of vessel interaction, was spotted by an aerial survey team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) on Monday off the Wood End Lighthouse. 

The wound appears to be about 10-12 feet long and 2-3 feet wide, but it is unknown if it cut through the whale’s protective blubber layer.  

“The whale was swimming slowly just below the surface of the water,” reports Cynthia Browning, PCCS aerial survey coordinator.   “After several minutes, it fluked and dove, which is normal behavior for a right whale,” she adds.

The New England Aquarium (NEAq), which maintains the right whale catalog, has matched this individual to the 2005 calf of #1703 and does not have its own number yet.

Browning, and Will Rayment, a member of the survey team, documented the wound while aboard the Cessna Skymaster plane used in the PCCS work that the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries funds.  Pilots were Philip Kibler and John Williams. 

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has ruled that effective July 1, 2007, shipping lanes will change in an effort to prevent, or at least reduce, ship strikes.  Stellwagen Bank is an ecologically-diverse 842-square-mile National Marine Sanctuary between Cape Ann, Boston and Cape Cod, in which large whales feed and congregate at various times of the year.

The new rule in Massachusetts Bay will mandate that a vessel steer a wider turn around the tip of Cape Cod once the lane is altered approximately 10 nautical miles (nm) to the north. Vessels approaching Boston will have a narrower lane – from five to four nautical miles – and from two to 1.5 miles – leaving Boston.  The new rule will lengthen the current traffic lanes into Boston by ~ 4 nautical miles and narrow them from 5 nm to 4 nm in width.  See the PCCS site here.


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