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Dive back in time

The cold fresh water of North America's Great Lakes preserves everything from wooden schooners to steamships. Becky Kagan Schott reveals a fleet of time capsules 

jitka lights up yawl boat fixed shot LP8 7341 schooner wreck

The Cornelia B Windiate was an American schooner that went missing in November 1875. It is believed she may have become covered in ice and sank.

 

willie steel drums and erik light LP8 4033 copy wreck

Steel drums are well preserved in the crystal-clear waters. There is typically little to no current on North America’s Great Lakes wrecks and most have at least one mooring buoy for ascents and descents. Invasive quagga mussels have cleaned up the water over the past two decades, resulting in spectacular visibility.

 

schooner wrecks 1

Left, intact schooners such as the Kyle Spangler have masts standing 30m high, with rigging still attached. Many of the boats look as if they are still sailing, on the bottom of the lake. Right, the Cornelia B Windiate was thought to have sunk in Lake Michigan but more than 100 years after the boat went missing divers found it in Lake Huron.

 

behind bow wheelhouse morell lit up LP8 7288 wreck

The Daniel J Morrell perished only 50 years ago in a rough storm offshore from Port Austin, Michigan, leaving only one survivor from the 29 on board. The wreck now sits in 24-65m in Lake Huron. Divers inspect the wheelhouse.

 

wrecks 1 bow schooner

Left, divers at the bow of the Daniel J Morell. Left, the Grace Channon was another three-masted wooden schooner and lies in 60m of water in Lake Michigan. The wreck sits upright and is relatively intact.

 

engine room morell back light LP8 7027 wreck

The 200m-long freighter SS Daniel J Morrell was literally ripped in half during a storm. Its steel hull slowly tore apart, as the bow sank, the stern kept motoring away and finally sank five miles away. Today, the engine room still has tools hanging on a workbench, a telegraph, and gauges on the walls.

 

LP8 7414 copy schooner wreck

The Typo was a wooden three-masted schooner that sank following a collision with a steamer in 1899 and now sits at a depth of 58m.

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