Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fabled Sable Island

Wrecks of Sable Island. Click to enlarge.
I recalled Sable Island while reading of the Titanic saga. Sable Island is a crescent-shaped sandbar located way off the coast of Nova Scotia. The island got there as a terminal moraine from ancient glaciation and took its name from the French word for sand.

Long considered a navigational hazard to North Atlantic trade, Sable Island is littered with the buried remains of hundreds of shipwrecks. Already by 1912, Sable Island had two lighthouses and a Marconi wireless station. The first wireless distress calls from the Titanic were heard and relayed by the Sable Island station. I'd love to visit there.


  1. Wow, that's an impressive list of wrecks. I wonder in what condition and at what depth? I'll have to see what the scuba-web has to say about it.

  2. A piece of trivia I picked up from a Titanic book:

    The wireless distress call used to be CQD. In the old days, the radio guys like text abbreviations. CQ is onomatopoeic and sounds like "seek you" which is what it meant. Sent out blind, CQ meant "anybody out there." The "D" stood for distress. The distress call was made "international" into SOS which doesn't stand for save our ship but rather the unambiguous three dots, three dashes, three dots: · · · — — — · · ·

  3. @Calypso-- I'll bet the water is pretty murky with poor visibility.

    The NC Outer Banks is another "Graveyard of the Atlantic."

  4. Sable Island is also featured as a landmark (and potential hazard) in The Perfect Storm (the book not the movie).

  5. Yeah, I thought it'd be pretty dark and cold with a good chance of fairly swift current thrown in too. It'd still be interesting to read what's said about the dive situation.

    I've been to OBX several times. Probably better diving... but worse traffic!

  6. Given the choice, I'd try to get clearance to dive Truk Lagoon. Warmer water and more interesting wrecks...

  7. I still remember the Cousteau episode describing Truk Lagoon which I haven't seen since the '70's. I can still hear Jacques' overdubbed, heavily-accented voice as he narrates footage of somebody finding sailor's skulls and bones inside one of the wrecks: "And zen, a veezhun from hell..."

    Man I still miss that show!