The Secrets Under the Sand


Harrison Corder

On December 26th, 1909, the Northeast was hit with one of its hardest storms in history. States from Maryland all the way up to Maine got hit with 20 inches of snow, temperatures at four degrees below zero, and gusts of wind up to 75 miles per hour. The Ada K. Damon, a 68 foot schooner, had been brought up to Plum Island a few days prior and was on its first trip for a load of sand. Anchored off the beach, it was bashed by the waves until the anchor broke free. Luckily all crew members, including captain A. K Brewster, were inland and taking shelter from the storm. The storm pulled the boat 3.5 miles on to the shore of Crane Beach.

After the storm died down, the crew, along with the beach clean up team, went down to the beach to assess the damages made to the boat. The hull was filled with water and it had already been partially buried under the sand. After many hours of consideration and a lot of effort to try to pull the boat out, they agreed that it was to be left where the storm had brought it. Many companies and individuals came to strip the boat of any values that it contained. The boat has sat there through many years and even worse storms, but it stays, buried in the sand.

The boat was a very popular sight when Cornelius Crane, son of Mr. Crane, had his birthday parties on the beach. Many kids would climb off of the bow of the ship and jump into the water. The boat became a big jungle gym, until a series of storms in the 60’s buried the ship for good.

The schooner has reappeared and disappeared many times throughout the last 50 years. During the past winter, which included many blizzards and outrageous storms, the ship has reappeared, as the ribs of the once beautiful boat now poke through the sand at low tide. This hidden treasure is a secret from most of the town, but as summer rolls around and the beach becomes packed with those from far and near, the Ada K. Damon will definitely be a topic of discussion.

This boat, however historic and beautiful, may cause some problems in the upcoming summer. Mrs. Dolan, the Ipswich Town Curator, talked about how the trustees and the beach organization are dealing with the potential problems of the ship. “The ship is historic, and although it has not been talked about a lot, as far as any danger goes, those conversations may have to be mandatory come summer.” Some are very worried about these large pieces of wood sticking up from the ground. The potential risk of a child walking through the water, and stepping on a sharp piece of wood, let alone a nail, is just too great.

So why not take the boat out? Along with tons of equipment, manpower, and money that the town just does not have, we face the problem of where to put it. The historic town of Ipswich is not going to just dig up and destroy this old piece of history; that is not the reputation that our town has. And digging out this 86 foot schooner would be an absolute mess, especially as the beach gets busier during the summer. Julia McDermet, a local high school senior, talked about what interest she has in this old ship. ” I think that this is a really interesting piece of history, and I am very excited to go see the boat this summer.” And although something may happen in the future, it looks like this lovely old boat is going to be a part of our historic beach for at least another year.