As It Happens

Shipwreck that carried frozen blueberries from New Brunswick in 1939 emerges off Cape Cod's coast

A ship nicknamed "The Blueberry Boat" has been emerging from the sand of the ocean floor off the coast of Cape Cod. It sank in 1939 while transporting frozen blueberries from New Brunswick to New York. Carol Off speaks with marine archaeologist Victor Mastone.
The picture on the left is a sonar image of the Lutzen. The ship was discovered last month off the coast of Cape Cod. Nicknamed "The Blueberry Boat," the ship was transporting frozen blueberries when it sank in 1939. (Left: Sound Underwater Surveys, LLC, Right: Pixabay)

A ship nicknamed "The Blueberry Boat" has been emerging from the sand of the ocean floor off the coast of Cape Cod. Last week, marine surveyors took sonar images of the wreck.

Sonar images of "The Blueberry Boat." (Sound Underwater Surveys, LLC)
The ship — officially named the Lutzen — sank on Feb. 3, 1939 while travelling from Saint John, New Brunswick to New York City. It was transporting around 200 tonnes of frozen blueberries.

"The accounts talk about dense fog and most likely a little bit of navigational error trying to get around other shoals. The ship probably came in a little too close and a little bit at the wrong angle and ran up on the beach," Victor Mastone, director of the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, tells As it Happens host Carol Off.

"Once they took all the cargo out, it turned on its side. It was partially salvaged after that. Then, just left there," says Mastone.

Before abandoning the boat, locals were hired to remove the frozen blueberries from the ship. Historian William Quinn wrote in his 1973 book Shipwrecks Around Cape Cod that workers were paid 75 cents an hour to unload the cargo. A lot of what is known about the Lutzen comes from Quinn's work.

"According to Quinn's account, he speculates that they went into a lot of blueberry pies in February. I'd like one of them myself," says Mastone.

Mastone speculates that there was a lot of canning going on as well.

"Today, we throw them in the freezer. Then, they would probably can them right away. Who knows? It would be fun to track down someone who was a child at that time and really get into what happened. And also find out who the cargo was destined for."

Mastone says he and his colleagues will continue to document the shipwreck. Perhaps, someone will dive and search the site.

"Though, that's a little questionable," says Mastone. "Because this is in the area where the great white sharks are seen quite a bit. So, you're not going to get me out there."

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Victor Mastone.


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