Wreck of the Northern Voyager

Mooring on Northern Voyager

The weather looked much better on Saturday but the winds were “predicted” to be a little dicey on Saturday morning so instead of motoring out to the wreck of the Coyote we opted to dive the wreck of Northern Voyager which sits behind Thatcher Island and is a much closer run.

Thankfully the weather and the marine forecast were completely wrong. There was not a ripple in Lake Atlantic this morning.   It was an absolutely fantastic morning.

The Northern Voyager was 144ft factory fishing ship that sunk in 180′ of water off Thatcher Island, just a few miles off Gloucester, MA on November 2, 1997. This wreck had quite a bit of controversy when it sank.  The captain and crew were convinced they could stop it from sinking with the aid of more pumps from the Coast Guard.  While they were successful in slowing the rate of water ingress the ship continued to flood and developed a port side list.

Finally, faced with continuous flooding and a worsening list to port the Coast Guard ordered the complete evacuation of the ship against the wishes of the captain who wanted to discuss other options for pumping and salvage.  The crew was evacuated while the ship continued to succumb to flooding and finally capsized and sank about an hour or so after the last person was removed from the vessel.

“The USCG was sued by the owners and underwriters of the Northern Voyager for ordering the crew off the vessel and prohibiting a commercial salvor from aiding the stricken vessel, which ultimately led to it’s sinking. The owners of the Northern Voyager also absorbed a $300,000 cost to remove bunker oil trapped in the vessel. The court found in favor of the Coast Guard, citing the sea conditions posed significant risk to human safety, that the Coast Guard acted in the best interest of human safety and that they were not responsible for the vessel itself. ” (source: http://northernatlanticdive.com/shipwrecks/northern-voyager/)

You can read a more thorough and detailed account of the sinking in the above link.

I had never dove the Northern Voyager before so this was my first time on the wreck. Being a relatively “new” wreck having only been on the bottom for 20 years there are not a lot of nets, monofilament or other entanglement hazards.

It’s a pretty clean wreck as far as most in New England go but it’s starting to get covered in frilled anemones and northern reds.

Myself, Reilly and Eric D. jumped in to complete the tie-in and install a mooring.  The mushroom weight landed about mid-ship so it was a nice drop. I guess when it first sunk the wreck was completely turtled but storms have moved the ship on it’s side.  It’s now laying with it’s port side in the mud/sand and starboard side up in the water column.

I was planning on tying into the prop shaft but as I made my way up the hull of the ship I realized we were heading forward.  I ended up tying into the starboard side anchor on the bow.  Not a bad place but of course right after I tied in I found like 5 better places to tie in near the pilot house structure.

Overall it was a fantastic dive on the Northern Voyager. I wish I had taken my camera/GoPro but there’s always next time.  We probably could have spent about 5 more minutes on the bottom but opted to stick with our original planned bottom times.

Max depth: 175ft
Visibility: 10-15ft (Reilly said 20ft but I think it was helium narcosis.)
Runtime: 75 minutes
Water temp: 40ft on bottom and 56f on deco.

Reilly after dive on Northern Voyager
Eric after dive on Northern Voyager
Eric after dive on Northern Voyager
Mooring on Northern Voyager
Not a ripple in Lake Atlantic today.
Matt putting up dive flag on Northern Voyager
Matt putting up dive flag on Northern Voyager

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