Harpswell, ME Cabin Cruiser DON Disaster, June 1941


Harpswell, Me., July 1 (AP) -- Recovery of five women's bodies, one of them burned, gave mute evidence today the the cabin cruiser Don with 35 aboard had gone down in lower Casco Bay after an explosion.
A motor vehicle operator's license found in the clothing of one of the women bore the name "ANN BERNICE STASULIS, 2 Holyoke avenue, Rumford, Me."
MISS STASULIS was known to be in the party which set out from Dyer's cove, Grea island, Sunday morning for Monhegan island, 40 miles to the eastward.
Twenty men and boys and 15 women were in the Don, commanded by Capt. PAUL JOHNSON, veteran East Harpswell fisherman. Most of the party lived in Rumford and adjacent Mexico.
The Don was reported to have reached Monhegan safely, indicating the cruiser was homeward bound, through fogbound waters, when its party met death.
MISS STASULIS' body was found in the water of Jacquish island, several miles seaward from Bailey island, in lower Casco bay.
Men in WILL MUNSEY'S boat found MISS STASULIS' body and that of another young woman, about the same age -- in the early twenties.
None of the other five bodies were immediately identified.
Two washed ashore at Dyer's cove; another was found in the water a mile and a half southwest of Bailey island; another off the east shore of than island.
MRS. ROBERT PLATTS, who found the body on the east shore, also found near it a red sweater.
Exactly what happened to the boat was unknown. The sea had been calm since the craft left Sunday, but the coast had been enveloped in a thick, "dungeon" fog since Sunday night.
MISS STASULIS' wrist watch had stopped at 11:40 -- the same time as that of a watch found on the wrist of the body found by JOHNSON.
OUELLETTE said he "thought" the watches probably stopped at 11:40 p. m. last night, but gave no explanation hor his belief.
The fog shut down over the coast about 11 p.m. Sunday.

The Portsmouth Herald New Hampshire 1941-07-01



Harpswell, Me., July 2 -- (AP) -- The 44-foot motorboat Don was pictured today by State Fisheries Warden JOHN STEVENS as a jinx ship that was "overcrowded" when it exploded and sent 37 men and women picnickers to death Sunday.
Declaring the Don had "sunk three times in the past decade" only to be raised, STEVENS told newsmen the craft was "topheavy" and that it carried 150 gallons of gasoline, some in cans on deck, when it set out of its last voyage to Monhegan Island, 20 miles away.
He added that is was inadequately equipped with life preservers for the party of Rumford and Mexico, Me., residents.
None of the first nine recovered bodies -- two men and seven women -- bore life preservers when they were picked up yesterday in the waters along the shores of Casco Bay. Two other bodies were held aboard fog-bound search craft overnight.
With every indication that there were no survivors of the trip that started so gaily, the disaster took the highest toll of life in New England waters since 47 perished in the Mackinac tragedy in Narragansett Bay, R. I., 16 years ago.

Indiana Evening Gazette Pennsylvania 1941-07-02


1941 newspaper accounts of the disaster


Newspaper coverage of tragedy


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See the listing for the "Don" under maine Shipwrecks at http://www.wreckhunter.net/
Years ago "Yankee" Magazine had a article on Loss of the "DON"

Cabin Cruiser Don Disaster, June 1941

I stumbled across this and am glad to see that more information on the Don disaster is coming to light. I did extensive research on this tragic event and have gathered numerous binders of newspaper clippings and the court transcripts. Consumed by the subject, I compiled a non-fiction book titled, "Tragedy in Casco Bay" that was published in 2006. I am currently working on a documentary film involving this accident; interviewing family and friends. I have also been working with a relative of one of the victims to discover where the boat accident occurred.
I am always looking for information on this subject and can be reached at 207.725.0894 or via mail at 8 Arboretum Way, Harpswell, ME 04079
Stacy Welner