By Barbara Rumsey
This photo shows the fishing schooner Shamrock ashore on the ledges just south of Boothbay Harbor’s Spruce Point. A fisherman out of Gloucester, she piled up on the Spruce Point Ledges on Wednesday, July 18, 1924. She’d been fishing on the Banks and came into Boothbay Harbor to replenish her bait at the Boothbay Harbor Cold Storage, which was established by J. C. Poole in 1893 and located on the harbor’s west side near the present parking lot for Pier 8. The Shamrock had left the cold storage for Linekin that Wednesday to take on ice over there when she went ashore. The captain and crew had been watching for the black buoy that marked the ledges and were blameless in the accident since the buoy had broken off and its top was under water.
The stranded Shamrock was a popular destination that Wednesday, with many boaters coming out to view the static excitement. Lester Barter (born 1906) told me he was working at the Squirrel Inn that summer and walked up to the north end of the island to see the vessel heeled over and nearly high and dry. Gawking was limited to one day, since the tug Seguin hauled the Shamrock off that night and towed her back to the cold storage where she was examined and declared sound with no leaks at all. Having lost some bait and gear, she took on more bait, overhauled her fishing gear, and headed back to the Banks late the next day.
Banks-fishing vessels of the late 1800s and early 1900s were very proud of their speed, and the Shamrock was well known for her role in the International Fishermen’s Races conducted in the 1920s. In 1923 she competed with two others: the Elizabeth Howard, built in East Boothbay at the Adams yard (she also either sank or piled up on a ledge in East Boothbay’s harbor in 1919 while in for repairs), and the Thomas McManus-designed Henry Ford (she ended her life wrecked on a ledge between Labrador and Newfoundland). The Shamrock came in a dismal third in the 1923 race, well behind the Henry Ford, which won just two minutes ahead of the Howard. As Wesley Pierce put it in Goin’ Fishin’, the Shamrock was revealed to be “only an ordinary sailor.” But those Banks fishermen were eternally handsome and admired for their looks and handling ability.