An article on the sinking of the excursion boat "Don," in the summer of 1941, as


Down East






An article on the sinking of the excursion boat "Don," in the summer of 1941, as it was making a trip from Harpswell to Monhegan under Captain Paul Johnson. Because the wreck was never found and 20 of the 34 bodies never recovered, the accident remains a mystery. There were persistent rumors that it was sunk by a German U-boat or even intentionally scuttled. Last year a novel, "The Raven," based on the "Don's" sinking, was published by author Peter Landesman. It won national literary acclaim but upset friends and families of the victims. Local fisherman regarded the boat, which was modified for sightseeing and had sunk twice before, as unseaworthy and top-heavy. A federal investigation concluded that the ship probably sank, but the first newspaper accounts all reported that an explosion and fire were suspected. A conspiracy theory was aided by the fact that Johnson's partner, Joseph Bernier, had burned two boats to collect insurance. In 1967, two fishermen discovered what was likely the stern of the boat and a passenger's initialed opera glasses near Round Rock, where the first bodies were found. It is likely that the boat ran aground on the half-tide ledge in heavy fog that night.


Don (Excursion boat), Marine accidents

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