Wrecks in Long Island Sound

Interesting article on ship wrecks off of Greenwich via Greenwich Time. My friend and colleague, Gary Silberberg, is featured – as a skipper and guide, of course, not a wreck.


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14 responses to “Wrecks in Long Island Sound

  1. George Crossman

    Paul Palmer told me when the Sugar Boat was going down people on the CT shore were calling out to the crew who could not see the CT shore. They started swimming toward Long Island. None of them made it.

  2. Gary Silberberg

    To make a correction, I was turning toward Byram (315° Magnetic to the Tower on Shell Island) to get through the “secret passage”, not Port Chester!

    But I caution… Don’t try this at home!

    Thanks for the mention, Chris.

    Gary Silberberg
    Intriguing Realty LLC

  3. Thanks for the clarification. Which reef were you trying to clear? And at what tide level?

  4. The sugar boat struck a reef in dense fog in the dark and exploded, no?

  5. From http://www.greenwichlibrary.org/blog/historically_speaking/

    The “Sugarboat” Disaster

    On April 29, 1930, the 560-ton vessel Thames caught fire and sank about 100-yards off Greenwich Point. Sixteen of the twenty-four crew members lost their lives. A red buoy in Long Island Sound marks the remains of the boat, and at low tide some of the wreckage can still be seen. Today, there is still some controversy which surrounds the disaster.

    The converted freighter was originally built in 1884 as a 142-foot passenger ship. It was called the City of Gloucester, and sailed primarily in Boston Harbor. In 1927, it was sold to the Thames Company and was converted to a freighter. She was renamed the Thames.

    On that fateful night in April, Captain Roger Sherman of Stratford was carrying 100-tons of sugar, 20 bales of wool shavings and 25 barrels of oil – a very lethal, flammable mix. About 8 pm when the boat was about 2-miles off Great Captain’s Island, a fire broke out below deck near the boiler room. Rumor has it that a cigarette butt was thrown into the volatile cargo near the boiler room. Although it was only 100-yards off Greenwich Point, there were no rescue boats or communications systems in place like there is today. Spectators viewing the firery glow from shore could only watch helplessly as crew members jumped into the frigid Sound. Only one crew member appeared to be wearing a life jacket. There is also some question as to whether all the crew members could swim.

  6. towny

    It must have been high tide. At low tide one can virtualy walk chest deep to within 70 feet of the sugar boat buoy.

    Great striper fishing over there. Caught a 47 lb at low tide, 3 ft of standing water, bunker chunk, 1984

  7. Further details and a map are found at

    Tide tables for 4/29/1930 indicate a low tide about 6:30 pm that evening.

    Now during prohibition what could one taking delivery in “Buy-rum” be doing with 100 tons of sugar, 20 bales of wool shavings and 25 barrels of oil?

    Distilling some rum, no?

  8. towny

    *correction.* buoy is about 350 yards off the point and one can wade about 100+ yards out. memory isnt what it used to be.

  9. The significance of the low tide at 6:30 pm is that the burning hull at 8:30 pm would have been carried into the harbor on the in-coming tide and blown by the prevailing winds onto shallow water west of the point at a high tide, thereby leaving the hull remnants visible at low tide 40 years later.

  10. Gary Silberberg

    To clarify, the reef runs between Great Captain’s Island and Little Captain’s.

    While the water appears “open” the rocks are lurking just below the water, even at low tide.

    You can navigate through the reef on a course of +/- 315° to the tower.

  11. fred

    Thanks IS. Makes perfect sence.

  12. Gary-
    As much as I appreciate your helping to bring this subject to light, I have prepared a little guide to the danger of what you suggest.

    Mapping the underwater boulders between Captains and Island Beach is an up-coming project. At low tide, none are visible. Therefore, at high tide any passage is safe if the boat’s draft is less than the tide height over low tide.

    The course of 315 magnetic takes one directly into Cormorant Reef, however, which is certain death. Are you in the salvage business on the side?


  13. Gary Silberberg

    A course of 315° toward the tower on Shell Island will bring you through the passage between Great and Little Captains’ islands, however, as you point out, you must turn shortly after navigating through as the same course will continue over Cormorant Reef.

    I had prepared a little chart to show the cours and where it was safe to turn, however, I was unable to upload it to this blog.

    Nevertheless, there is no substitute for good navigational skills and an up to date chart. I also would recommend a chartplotter/GPS if transiting this area.