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Whitefish Point Museum
Jul 19th, 2009 by Tom

Side Trip Summary

Type  Museum
Location

 Michigan

Cost  $12.00 for Adults
Operational Hours
 10 AM - 6 PM

Depending on who you talk to the museum at Whitefish point is either a great thing or an awful thing. There are beautifully preserved artifacts recovered from many of the major wrecks in the area, and that’s the problem. Many divers there reportedly feel that since it was against the law for them to remove artifacts the same should apply to the museum, and have decided to boycott.

The museum features several buildings on the site of an old lighthouse. There are exhibits, artifacts, a movie, and even the lens from the lighthouse.  The bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald is perhaps the centerpiece to the whole place but of particular interest to divers will be the amazing models of the wrecks as they looked when they could still float.

I found the museum more than worthwhile, and would recommend it as highly informative, entertaining and professionally done. It is very close to where dive boats depart so is a great alternative if you get blown out.

 

John M. Osborne
Jul 19th, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwreck
Build  Wooden
Location

 Whitefish Point, Michigan

Depth  171 feet
Length  178 feet
Built  1882
Sank  1884
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Technical
Orientation

 Upright

Most dive days are beautiful, warm, sunny, with a slight breeze, and you wonder how two ships could ever find each other out in the middle of no-place to actually collide. Other days, like this one, a quick fog rolls in like pea soup and you see modern boats head for port because even with their state-of-the-art GPS and radar systems it’s just too dangerous out on the lake.

A foggy collision is exactly is exactly what happened to the John M. Osborne, a beautiful wooden steamer which took four lives when it was struck by the steel steamer Alberta. The Osborne is still in remarkable condition with an exceptional amount to see at depths ranging to just over 170′. Deck machinery, rails, yardarms, anchors just inside the bow, fife rails, belay pins, water snapped off masts, and an engine with what looks like bizarre ancient writing await divers trained for these depths.

 

Vienna
Jul 19th, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwreck
Build  Wood
Location

 Whitefish Point, Michigan

Depth  145 feet
Length  191 feet
Built  1873
Sank  1892
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Advanced
Orientation

 Upright

This is the default wreck when diving Whitefish point. Just over a mile from the boat launch this is the one you go to when the wind is too high, the lake too choppy or you just don’t have much time. Because of that reputation I wasn’t expecting much of a wreck… and was I ever wrong.

While being far from the longest wreck in the Whitefish preserve the wreck has a considerable amount to see, and is surprisingly intact for a wreck that was sunk in a collision and is dived so often. Bow damage from where it hit the Nipigon is considerable but you can still clearly see the draught markings below the carnage.

Due to being in such excellent condition the Vienna has a great deal of relief (it stands up quite tall off the bottom) and spans the range from 115′ to nearly 150′, which makes it possible for average recreational divers to see the top deck and those more technically inclined can visit the bow, rudder and prop, along with doing some decent penetration.

Numerous atifacts (including the ship’s wheel) were recovered from the site and are now on display at the Whitefish Point Maritime Museum close by, so that leaves the lifeboat to take on the roll of what I’d consider the site’s most outstanding feature, and a rare one, indeed. You can also find deck machinery, the vertical boiler, open coal doors at the base of the boiler, a capstan that has been ripped from the deck and now lies at an angle, and much more. After having done most of my diving in Lakes Ontario and Erie I find it remarkable to see what wrecks look like without even a single zebra mussel.

 

Bermuda
Jul 7th, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwreck
Build  Wooden Two-masted canal schooner
Location

 Munising, Michigan

Depth  25 feet
Length  136 feet
Built  1860
Sank  1870
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Novice
Orientation

 Upright

After diving in Lake Superior for the first time all I can say is… what took me so long?

This particular wreck had just about everything that can be right with a wreck: shallow for long bottom times, penetration potential, artifacts to find (just don’t tell anyone they’re fake), and is extremely in tact for a mid-nineteenth century wreck in only 25′ of water. If the dive boat had a buffet I don’t think I’d ever leave.

The Bermuda originally sunk miles away from its present location, was raised, moved, had her cargo partially salvaged, sunk again, was victim of an unsuccessful raising attempt and stayed put at the bottom of a well-sheltered bay which should protect her (if the salvers will only leave her alone.)

The wreck is actually quite safe now with the creation of Michigan’s 113 square mile Alger Underwater Preserve which protects wrecks and their artifacts. Unfortunately the only artifacts to be found here aren’t genuine. There are pottery shards in the hold with a 1980’s date marking, and a barrel which may be a remnant of a keg party a century ago but was not originally from this ship.

Her rail is quite in tact aside from a section believed to have been torn down by dive boats in the years before a mooring was put in place. The only real danger here is having to evade the frequent glass bottom tour boats

If you visit this site not only will you be able to tell your co-workers you went to "Bermuda" for the weekend, but also about the draught markings, fully in tact rudder, neat steering gear, abundant fish hiding in the bow, deck damage from the failed salvage attempt, and the transom which still has the original pain between the boards. You can also tell them there are no zebra mussels - if you see their eyes light up you’ll know they’re divers.

 

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