Saturday, July 12, 2014

Diving the Minnendosa

Diving the Minnedosa
The Mighty Minnedosa

Today we were able to get in a dive on the Minnedosa.  The shipwreck Minnedosa is located about 16 miles North-Northwest of Harbor Beach Michigan in Lake Huron.  The shipwreck sits in about 210 feet of water.

Descending the line to the Minnedosa 200 feet below.
We had a beautiful afternoon out on Lake Huron.  The waves were minimal (under 2 feet).  The shipwreck sits right in the downbound shipping lane, so we needed to be vigilant about freighter traffic.  The Sylvia Anne took divers out to the wreck in the morning and had to hail a few freighters to notify them that they were moored on the wreck with divers in the water in order to get them to change course.

Our bottom time on the wreck was about 20 minutes with an overall runtime for the dive of 1 hour 30 minutes for me as I spent some extra time doing some deco at 20 feet.

The Minnedosa was built in 1890 in Canada and was known as "The Pride of Canada" as she was the last and largest of the schooners that were built in Canada for the Great Lakes.  However, because of her size, she required a sizeable crew in order to sail her.  So, in most instances she was to be used in tow behind a steamer to minimize crew needs.
In October, 19005 the Minnedosa left Ft. William, Ontario with a full load of grain being towed behind the steamer Westmount.  During the trip the ships were caught in a gale.  It is unknown the reasons why the Minnedosa sank, but she plunged to the bottom with all hands lost.

The wheel of the Minnedosa is an impressive sight.
The schooner Minnedosa, built in 1890, was born to superlatives, and became known as “The Pride of Canada”. She was the last and the greatest of the thousand schooners built in Canada for the Great Lakes. Two hundred and fifty feet long with a 38’ beam with four masts, she was fully rigged and capable of 15 knots, as fast or faster than the steamers of the day. Originally, she had a life-sized half-length figure of Ceres, the Grecian goddess of harvest. She was, by all measures, a stout and well-built vessel.

In October, 1905, she left Ft. William, Ontario with a full load of grain (75,000 bushels) in her holds and entered Lake Huron behind the Steamer Westmount. Little did Captain Phillips, his wife, and the crew of six realize that this would be their last and “Final Run”.

In a horrific late October 1905 gale, the Minnedosa continued down bound, behind the Steamer Westmount, into Lake Huron’s notorious Saginaw Bay. Without warning, the giant Minnedosa plunged to the floor of Lake Huron to become one of the enduring mysteries of the Great Lakes for more than 75 years.

Cindy and Shawn photo shot with
the wheel of the Minnedosa.

From the Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1905-10-21
Port Huron, Mich., Oct. 21 -- A story of heroism is told by the crews of the steamer Westmont and schooner Melrose which arrived here after a terrific battle with the wind and mountainous waves on Lake Huron. The schooners Melrose and Minnedosa were in tow of the staunch steel steamer Westmount. The Minnedosa was being battered to pieces and was doomed. Behind the Minnedosa was hitched the Melrose also in desperate straits. Capt. JOHN PHILLIPS of the Minnedosa, realizing the fate in store for the Minnedosa and the nine souls on board, ordered the tow line cut, freeing the Melrose in the hope that she might be saved. The latter boat was picked up after drifting twenty miles into the lake by the Westmount and brought into port. A few minutes after the hawser was cut the Minnedosa, with its nine heroes and a cargo of 75,000 bushels of wheat lurched to the bottom off Harbor Beach, Lake Huron. Those who went down with the Minnedosa were:

  •  Capt. JOHN PHILLIPS, Kingston, Ont.
  •  MRS. PHILLIPS, the captain's wife.
  •  ARTHUR WALKER, mate, Nova Scotia.
  •  GEORGE McDERMOTT, Bellville, Ont.
  •  JAMES ALLEN, Nova Scotia.
  • A passenger and three sailors, names unknown to the captain and whose homes are believed to be at Kingston.
For thirty years Captain Alexander Milligan of St. Catharines, Ont., on the steamer Westmount and Capt. R. A. Davey of Kingston on the schooner Melrose have sailed the lakes, but the story they told when their boats were laying at Sarnia today was of a battle with wind and water, the like of which they had never before experienced. All the way down from Fort William where the Westmount, Minnedosa and Melrose of the Montreal Transportation company took took the last of their cargoes last Monday, the boats shoved their noses into fierce winds and mountain waves Captain Milligan of the Westmount stated that the Minnedosa was carrying an unusually heavy load. Her usual cargo was 60,000 bushels, but she had carried 75,000 bushels before and it was thought perfectly safe to have her carry as much this time. "It was late in the season," said Captain Milligan, "and fates were high. The Minnedosa went to the bottom without a signal of distress. We did not known how serious was her condition."

Artifacts divers found on the wreck are on
display on the stern cabin roof.

Steve exiting one of the holds of the Minnedosa.
  When the vessel went down she was
carrying a full load of grain.

Cindy with a Go-Pro camera getting footage of the shipwreck.

Divers on the bow of the Minnedosa.
  You will notice some damage to the bow that
occurred during the sinking of the vessel.

Part of the stern cabin roof were divers have placed artifacts
that were found on the Minnedosa for others
to view and enjoy.

Divers posing on the bow of the Minnedosa.

Steve investigating the bow bollard on the Minnedosa.

Cindy on the deco line waiting out the
deco obligation from a 200ft dive.

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