Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sable Island: Isle Of Lost Ships

Click on map to enlarge
Gerald Noxon - a friend of Lowry's - wrote a letter to him on June 6th 1943:

"In the meantime I enclose something which I found in Halifax which will give you some idea of the fantastic story of Sable Island. I found the little map in a ship-chandler's on Water Street and I think you will agree that it is something of a curiosity. In fact I know of no more amazingly suggestive document in connection with men and ships - suggestive and at the same time tantalizing."

Lowry was fascinated by the map sent to him by Noxon and wrote back on June 15th 1943:

"What a romantic story. It's the most exciting thing I've heard of - I suppose Sable Island is the original Isle of Lost ships legend."

Lowry goes on to speculate abut the ships mentioned especially Inglewood - the name of his childhood home. He concludes by saying; "I would like to live on Sable Island for a few months after the war and write a book containing 195 chapters, one for each ship."

When I first read the above, I too was immediately fascinated by the thought of such a map. The only problem was that Sherril Grace, the editor of the Collected Letters, informed readers that the map had gone missing from the letter. Recently, I came across the map on the Nova Scotia Department of Education website.

Sable Island (French: île de Sable) is a small Canadian island situated 300 km southeast of mainland Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sable Island is famous for its large number of shipwrecks. An estimated 350 vessels are believed to have fallen victim to the island's sand bars. Thick fogs, treacherous currents, and the island's location in the middle of a major transatlantic shipping route and rich fishing grounds account for the large number of wrecks. The first recorded wreck was the English ship Delight in 1583, with the second-to-last occurring in 1947. The last vessel to wreck on Sable Island was a yacht, the sloop Merrimac in 1999.[12] The construction of two lighthouses on each end of the island in 1873 probably contributed to the decrease in the number of shipwrecks.
Few wrecks are visible on the island as the ships are usually crushed and buried by the sand.[13] The large number of wrecks have earned the island the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic",[12][13] although the phrase is also used to describe Cape Cod and the Outer Banks area of North Carolina.
Read more on Wikipedia

You can read more about Sable Island here.

I will be returning to the stories behind the ships picked out from the map by Malc. I will also post on the story of The Isle of Lost Ships which Malc refers to in his letter to Gerald Noxon.

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