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Thread: Boston Harbor wreck dives

  1. #1

    Default Boston Harbor wreck dives

    I had a couple of great dives Saturday in Boston's outer harbor, on the wrecks of the passenger steamer Romance and the cargo ship City of Salisbury. Both ships went down in the mid 1930s, the former when it collided with another vessel in the fog, and the latter when it hit an uncharted rock pinnacle while coming into Boston with a cargo of zoo animals. Surface temps were around 65f, with a 50f thermocline at 40 fsw.

    I found a discarded clay pipe of a type popular here in the colonies since the early 1700s while looking for (and finding) scallops at about 75' depth near some anemones just off the wreckage of the Romance, and so have a nice souvenir to add to my collection of maritime artifacts.

    We had an anxious moment though, as the distant thrumming of prop cavitation grew increasingly louder over the course of the dive. We had hooked up to the mooring line just outside of the shipping channel, and a LNG tanker came in while we were under. It must have passed within a few hundred yards, and while I couldn't see it, at it's closest point the sound of it's props was literally bone-shaking. I felt like a submarine was about to pop out of the gloom and buzz us.

    On the second dive, we hit the City of Salisbury wreckage with catch bags, and high hopes of a fruitful lobster hunt. We descended to about 15 feet, and were immediately blown away by the abundance of fish of all sorts swimming around us. Cod, black bass, and cunner were everywhere, and a flounder the size of a bath mat swam by as we were getting our bearings. The other team had splashed first and run a line for navigation, and we decided that since we were hunting and they were not, we'd follow their line and save ourselves from having to occupy hands with spools and what-not.

    The wreckage of a 400+' ship takes up a lot of space, and provides an abundance of the sorts of hiding places lobsters and fish love. Since both are also attracted to rocky outcroppings, you can well imagine that a steep rocky outcropping draped with the remains of a 415' ship makes for a busy and productive hunt. We got to a max depth of about 45', and I'm looking forward to returning to the site to check out the intact bow at about 90fsw.

    Somehow, 'langosta a mano' tastes better to me than lobster pulled out of a trap and sold for more than the cost of a lobster license. The scallops never made it back to the dock... they're too good raw not to eat when they're that fresh.

    Upon closer inspection and additional cleaning, I found a "T D" mark on my pipe. Since that's what my dive buddy Jimmie's had too, I now figure it for a maker's mark.

    I just did a little more research, and it turns out TD stands for Thomas Dormer, who was a well known maker of quality pipes in London. He was so well known that demand for his products greatly outstripped his ability to produce them, and "TD" pipes have since been manufactured by a number of different makers. Lower quality "TD" pipes are still made today.

    The markings evolved though, and the ones like we found that have the T on one side of the stem and the D on the other with no circles, garlands, or other decorations was common among London manufacturers in the eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries.

    I think there's a good chance we found imported pipes that could well have been manufactured right around the time that Romance went down.

    When I get a chance, I plan to measure the spur at the bottom of the bowl, and determine the width to length ratio. Apparently, a spur with a width to length ratio of 0.75 or higher on a "TD" pipe would mean it wasn't manufactured after 1890. I expect it will be smaller, as I now believe the pipes came to rest where we found them as a result of the sinking of the Romance, and since it seems unlikely any pair on board the Romance or involved in her rescue would have been smoking out of 46+ year old pipes.

    If you're interested, there's more info on the wrecks here:
    Matt Silvia

    "A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner"
    Author Unknown

  2. #2


    Man - sounds awesome. I can't wait to go diving in that area. I think I'll have to start planning it. Screw the warm water - I think that's for retirement.

    Please keep posting dives like these ones!

  3. #3


    Hey Matt,

    Great report! Thanks. I don't know that I can get down there with you in my 7mil, but I'll have to try and hook up with you again this summer on a harbor dive. It got pretty cold last year when we passed those thermos. Anyway, Great find on the Romance. Let me know if you are going out and need a buddy.


  4. #4


    Will do. In all likelyhood though, I'm out of the water until after my move, business travel, and wedding... probably mid september. Too much going on.

    My buddy was diving wet though, and the thermocline was at about 40fsw. About 50 degrees below the 'cline.
    Matt Silvia

    "A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner"
    Author Unknown

  5. #5


    Matt --

    I just started to get a little chilly about 1/2 hour into the dive. Once we started up the mooring line & passed the thermo, I warmed right back up. I left my zipper a 1/4 the way down and didn't notice until close to the end of the dive. Dive is definitely a go w/ a can't stay down there an hour anyhow. Unless you are cold sensitive, JPG, you should have little cold problems. SI warmed me up and the 2nd dive was shallower.

    Great day of boat diving. I'm trying to get back out w/ Pat & BDS soon, so give me a pm/e-mail if you guys have any plans.

    My only problem was finding my way around Eastie!

    LobstaMan/Jimmie O

  6. #6


    Hey Jimmie,

    I'm okay with Cold for the most part. It got cold under that thermo though. I might try and hook up for a dive in a couple of weeks. I'm out for at least two more weekends though. I have to beg a ride to the boat from my girlfriend though and that can be the deciding factor sometimes! Let me know if you are going out either way and maybe we can do something.

  7. #7



    Believe me...I'm not a die-hard wet diver and it was cold, but worth it. I'm in the market for a dry suit. Just lacking the funds at this point. I'd love to hook up and dive off BDS. My wife is going back to work in September and then thediving will be few and far between. I've got a staggered schedule 4 on 2 off, so I have weekdays and weekends off through the month. PM here or on SB.

    LobstaMan/Jimmie O

  8. #8



    Will Do. I have Firdays off so that Might be a good day to try and get out.


  9. #9

    Default August 19 w/ BDS

    I'm trying to see when Pat with be available for a charter in August. I have Friday August 19th off. If he's available that date, how's that date for you, Joe? I've got a few other weekdays off after that, but that's the only Friday until Sept.

    LobstaMan/Jimmie O

  10. #10

    Default Bds 8/19?

    Matt and Joe, would you be interested in a BDS charter on Friday 8/19? HT is 11:29 at Boston Light so we should have some pretty good viz and depth. I've got a pm into Capt. Pat. Please advise if you want to jump on the charter. I'm definitely going. I was thinking a wreck dive followed by a shallower lobster dive.

    Jimmie O

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