Everybody loves a good mystery like the one hobby diver Bob Chaulk recently found. He flippered along the bottom in his SCUBA gear, as usual, and noticed something that was totally inexplicable. After heavy duty research digging back more than a hundred years he managed to unscrew the inscrutable.
Diver baffled by discovery
Bob Chaulk, a SCUBA diver based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, “has dived hundreds of times, but never found anything quite like what he discovered this spring,” Canadian outlets report. What he found “could shed a little new light on one aspect of a dark chapter in Nova Scotian history.”
An explosive one. Over the past three decades, Bob has “has explored Halifax harbor from the Bedford Basin to Chebucto Head.” He’s been down “hundreds” of times. On what was supposed to be just another routine dive, “in a small cove in the narrows between Halifax’s two bridges,” he found something worth using a whole tank of air to examine.
It was simply impossible, or so it seemed. There must be an explanation because there it was, right in front of him. It wasn’t a crash-landed UFO but as far as the diver was concerned, that would have been easier to explain. All the usual things were there, an “assortment of scuttling crabs, polished bottles and bits of plastic trash.” Then he found a massive object which has no natural right to be where it is.
“When I first saw the anchor, I thought, OK, there’s a wreck here, some old derelict came in here. But there’s no way a ship that size could have gotten in here.” The bigger the ship, the bigger the anchor needed to hold it in place. This anchor is huge. The water it’s in can’t handle a boat that size and never could have.
Bob relates he “explored until his air just about ran out.” After having a chance to swim around and get some shots with a golf ball in the frame for size comparison, the diver determined that “the anchor was about two meters long and weighed 135 kilograms.”
It’s obvious that “a ship that needed an anchor that size could not have sailed into shallow, rocky Tufts Cove.” If it didn’t sail in, then how DID it get there? The answer was staring him in the face across the harbor but it took him a while to figure it out.
Lumber schooner ‘St. Bernard’
Chaulk isn’t as comfortable in the library as he is under water but the diver jumped head first into the local history books. When he found the account from a tragedy which occurred December 6, 1917, it looked like he found a plausible explanation for his errant anchor. It seems that on that fateful winter day, the harbor was “ground zero for the Halifax Explosion, which killed nearly 2,000 people.”
It seems his anchor was a “flying object” after all and did crash land where it is. Two ships had a little mishap in the harbor. The “Imo and the Mont Blanc, a ship carrying explosive cargo, collided. The Mont Blanc caught fire and drifted into Pier 6, a space occupied today by the giant Halifax Shipyard building. The St. Bernard, a lumber schooner, was also at the dock.” It wasn’t at that dock for much longer.
As the diver pieced together, “So now you have two ships side by side with a dock in between them. Here’s the Mont Blanc, here’s the Imo,” Chaulk demonstrated with his hands.
“This one blows up, destroys this one, and I contend the anchor [of the St. Bernard] went through the air and landed right here.” The stylish schooner “was blasted to pieces and never seen again.” The wood was blown to “splinters” but the heavy metal equipment, including the anchor, were launched into space.
What Chaulk found means that the crew of the Mont Blanc were exceptionally lucky that day. The position where the diver found the anchor puts it dangerously close to where the crew were standing that day.
They fled the burning ship full of explosives and headed right to where the St. Bernard’s anchor decided to meet them. The anchor from their boat was found “four kilometers away from the blast, near the portion of the harbor known as Northwest Arm.”