The project ‘Error of Judgment’ is a photo documentation of all the shipwreck sites in Nova Scotia officially caused by an error of judgment by the captain or crew (34 in total).

These shipwrecks have been compiled in the book Shipwrecks of Nova Scotia by Jack Zinck and are also listed on the Maritime Museum’s shipwreck database online. Neither source is searchable by cause of shipwreck, but it is through reading Zinck’s book that the poignancy of those accidents caused by an error of judgment particularly struck me.

There is a vast list of official reasons for a shipwreck that would have been noted by insurance companies and law courts that includes: fog, ice, snow, winds, a leak, capsized, stranded, anchor dragging, compass error, fire, collision, buoy out of place, and even navigational error and ‘error in ship’s position’. For a shipwreck to be specifically listed as caused by ‘Error of Judgement’ seems particularly damming in light of all the other possible reasons for a ship being lost. In other words, someone must have made a serious mistake – a mistake so bad that it could not be covered up or attributed to any of the other multitude of reasons for a ship to be wrecked.

Speaking of human fallibility and weakness – our flaws and mistakes – the sites serve as reminders of our own errors of judgment, and their consequences.