Alma E.A. Holmes
The schooner Holmes was a four-masted ship 202 ft in
length with a 41 ft. beam. She was carrying a cargo of coal when she left
Norfolk, VA bound for the Lehigh Coal Yards in Salem, MA. On the morning of
October 10, 1914 in a thick fog, the steamer Belfast struck the Holmes with
little warning, its bow striking the schooner near the foremast. The
Belfast was on a run from Bangor, Maine to Boston with about 150
passengers. Realizing the blow to the Holmes was fatal, the pilot of the
Belfast, Frank Brown, kept the bow of the steamer positioned in the Holmes
to give the crew time to clamber onto the deck of the Belfast. When the
Belfast was finally backed away, the Holmes sank immediately. Due to the
fog, an exact position of the wreck was never given and the wreck remained
undiscovered until recently.
The Holmes was located in 1993 by local diver and
wreck historian Ray Bates. She sits upright in about 160 FSW on a mud/sand
bottom. The wreck has been broken up badly over the years, and while the
hull timbers are somewhat intact nothing remains of the deck or deckhouses.
The bow has retained much of its shape, and gives a glimpse of what the
once-proud Holmes was truly like. Spars and rigging can be found in many
directions from the wreck, with a large concentration off the stern. This
wreck continues to give up artifacts on a regular basis - we located both
running light lens (one fully intact) in the past year, along with various pieces
of brass including door hardware and fittings.
In good visibility, the Holmes is an awesome dive with
its ghostly remains rising up from the mud bottom. One can take in much of
the outline and piece together the whole of the beautiful ship. In poorer
visibility, the Holmes can be a confusing wreck, and running a line is
recommended even for divers experienced on the wreck under these
conditions. I almost embarrassed myself in poor conditions once when I
“lost” the wreck and therefore the mooring line while poking through a
tangle of spars looking for artifacts. Only a familiar tangle of netting
leading to the hull kept me from enduring the inevitable round of guff from
the others on the boat when one resorts to shooting a bag.
A divers light points out a piece of the hull
A sheave lies in on the bottom near a sea raven
More wreck debris litters the bottom
A March day shows off what the vis can be!
Anemones cover a winch
Yours truly behind a section of the hull
A significant amount of hull still standing
A hull section with the deck bracing still intact