Great Lakes

Great Lakes: Lake Michigan Shipwreck Mysteries

Explorer Capt. Jitka Hanakova at stern of EMBA wreck, Lake Michigan. Photo by Becky Kagan Schott.

My first dive in the Great Lakes was 20 years ago. I remember descending into dark green water and limited visibility. My joke for years was, “Do you know why they call it Lake Erie? Because it’s just that—it’s Erie.” Soon after that, I moved to Florida with my family and forgot all about the Great Lakes because I had warm, tropical reefs in my backyard. Fast-forward to five years ago and I had my next experience diving in Lake Superior.

Great Lakes: Shipwrecks of Presque Isle

The year is 1880, and you are working on a wooden schooner, one of the most dangerous jobs during the time. It is late November and it is the last run of the season. The ship is overloaded with coal and the seas start to pick up. It is now dark and the icy waves are crashing over the sides, and all you can do is work to keep the ship afloat. Ice is now forming on the rigging, and out of the fog, the bow of another ship suddenly appears.

Great Lakes: A Haven for Wreck Divers

There are other areas of the world with well-preserved shipwrecks, but the Great Lakes has the monopoly on sheer mass, variety and relative ease of access. Very few known dive-able wrecks are much more than a few hours boat ride from a decent restaurant, a chain hotel or a decent-sized town. Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, is a notable exception, but most wreck dive sites in the Great Lakes do not demand an expedition set up to reach.