Dive Sites

 

Home

Dive Sites

Liability

Local Events

Schedule & Reservations

What to Bring

What to Expect

Where to Eat

Where to Stay

William Young William H. Barnum Cedarville Martin Stalker Minneapolis Eber Ward Sandusky Northwest Maitland Colonel Ellsworth Fred Mcbriar Cayuga

DIVE SITES

The following information is presented only as a general overview of primary dive sites in the Straits of Mackinac. It is not meant to represent any dive site as suitable for any particular diver or degree of training. No representations as to water conditions including currents and visibility are made. Such conditions can vary substantially during different seasons and from day to day. All depths, distances and dimensions are approximate.

1. WILLIAM H. BARNUM

Length: 218'          Beam: 35'          Depth: 50' - 75'
Type: Wooden Steamer         Lost: April 3, 1894
Built: 1873, Detroit, Michigan

Location:
Lake Huron, 5.5 miles southeast of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: While carrying a cargo of corn, the aging Barnum was blocked and cut by ice. No loss of life occurred.

Present condition:
She is upright and partially intact. The bow still has parts of the two decks, which can be penetrated. The stern is collapsing but a large boiler and propeller are in place. The rudder was salvaged some years ago and is displayed on the waterfront in St. Ignace.

Diving conditions:
The current is usually mild and visibility good. Divers can disturb silt.
<back to top>


2. CAYUGA

Length: 290'        Beam: 41'         Depth: 67' - 102'
Type: Steel Propeller Steamer         Lost: May 10, 1895
Built: 1889, Cleveland, Ohio

Location:
Southwest of Straits of Mackinac in Lake Michigan near Cross Village (because of the distance, advance arrangements should be made if you desire to dive this site)

Description:
How lost: The Cayuga was one of five early steel sister ships. She was carrying grain and general merchandise when she encountered dense fog. The much smaller, wooden Joseph L. Hurd struck her on her starboard bow and she sank in 25 minutes.

Because she was built of steel and was relatively new, extensive, unsuccessful efforts were made to raise her from 1896-99. These attempts left unique, large pontoons and other salvage equipment at the wreck site. A flat barge, lost in the salvage effort, sits off her port bow.

Present condition:
She tilts slightly to port and is gradually decaying with the bow beginning to collapse. The stern is relatively intact and allows some penetration. Although heavily salvaged, many details of her construction are present along with some hardware.

Diving conditions:
A strong current can be present and the visibility can vary from good to poor.
<back to top>


3. CEDARVILLE

Length: 588'         Beam: 60'         Depth: 40' - 107'
Type: Steel Steam Freighter         Lost: May 7, 1965
Built: 1927, River Rouge, Michigan; converted to self-unloader 1956-57; modified 1961 (reboilered and new stack)

Location:
Lake Huron, 3 miles east of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: This modern shipwreck is the result of controversial conduct by two ships. Carrying a cargo of limestone, the Cedarville was westbound when she ran into very heavy fog. The Cedarville continued moving relying on her radar and radio contact. The M.V. Topdalsfjord did not respond by radio resulting in confusion by the Cedarville officers. When the ships were near collision, the Cedarville attempted an emergency turn but was struck hard port amidships. She sank quickly, settling in two parts at approximately a 45-degree angle. The Cedarville was found at fault. Eight lives were lost.

She was heavily salvaged because of her close proximity to the surface. Today, her cargo of limestone lies spilled on the lake floor alongside her unloader.

Present condition:
The Cedarville is in very good condition. While much of her ship stores and gear have been removed, she still has much to explore. Her cargo holds are very large, the pilothouse is easily accessible, the forward and stern crew quarters are intact, and her engine room is accessible. No penetration should be attempted without proper training. Hazards are present on the ship including open doors and hatchways, entangling line, confined spaces and heavy interior silt.

Diving conditions:
The ship is quickly accessed because of the closeness of her keel to the surface. A current can be present. Visibility is usually fair but it can turn poor depending, in part, on the current.
<back to top>


4. EBER WARD

Length: 213'         Beam: 32'         Depth: 100' - 140'
Type: Wooden Steamer         Lost: April 20, 1909
Built: 1888, W. Bay City, MI

Location:
Lake Michigan, 4.5 miles west of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: While carrying a cargo of corn, the Ward struck a spring ice floe opening a large hole at her port bow. She went down quickly, taking five members of her crew with her. Eight men survived.

Present condition:
Her upper works are gone but the hull remains upright, very well preserved and remarkably intact. Among other features, she has a unique mushroom anchor, two decks, a round stern, engine, boiler, early mechanical unloading equipment, and hand trucks stored in her bow top deck. Her smokestack lies on the starboard bottom and a lifeboat rests off her starboard stern. Topside a porcelain toilet and bathtub sit on the deck.

Diving conditions:
A strong current can be present. The inside of the hull has very heavy silt making penetration risky without proper training. Visibility can vary but is generally good.
<back to top>


5. COLONEL ELLSWORTH

Length: 137'         Beam: 26'          Depth: 70' - 85'
Type: Wooden Schooner         Lost: September 2, 1896
Built: 1861, Euclid, Ohio

Location:
Lake Michigan, 6 miles east of White Shoals Lighthouse

Description:
How lost: The Ellsworth was caught in a gale and rainstorm resulting in a collision with the Emily B. Maxwell. The Maxwell saved her crew. The Ellsworth then sank bow first.

Present condition:
Owing to its distance well West of the Mackinac Bridge, the Ellsworth is a less frequently visited dive site. It is an excellent example of a schooner type vessel. She sits upright. Her bow is in better condition than her stern. Despite some collapsed decking, much hardware, deck fittings, and equipment remain. One mast lies on the port side lake floor.

Diving conditions:
Risks of entanglement exist due to fishing nets. Current is usually moderate and visibility is generally good.
<back to top>


6. FRED McBRIER

Length: 161'          Beam: N.A.          Depth: 89' - 104'
Type: Wooden Propeller Steamer         Lost: October 3, 1890
Built: 1881, W. Bay City, Michigan

Location:
Lake Michigan, 9 miles west of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: Loaded with iron ore, the McBrier was towing two schooner barges at night when she was struck by the much larger propeller Progress. The collision gored a hole in her hull quickly sinking her. The entire crew was saved.

Present condition:
The McBrier is upright but is breaking up. Her stern is mostly intact while her bow has seperated. Much equipment is present including her engines and windlass.

Diving conditions:
Silting is possible. Current is mild and visibility is usually fair.
<back to top>


7. MARTIN STALKER

Length: 135'          Beam: N.A.          Depth: 85' - 92'
Type: Wooden Schooner         Lost: November 5, 1886
Built: 1863, Milan, Ohio; rebuilt 1875

Location:
Lake Huron, 2 miles east of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: The Stalker fell prey to a November storm. She was attempting to ride out a gale while anchored west of Mackinaw City when the barge Muskoka struck her. The collision took her headgear down and, loaded with a cargo of iron ore, she began to sink. Despite her bilge pumps and a dash for shore, she went down with her crew abandoning her. There was no loss of life.

Present condition:
Sitting on a sloping lake floor, the Stalker is upright and her stern and midships are intact. Her bow is damaged. Much of her sailing gear remains including a windlass, winches, and rigging. A mast lies to starboard.

Diving conditions:
Caution is required in mooring at this site because it sits in the ferry lane used by the ferry traffic between Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island. Because of its location, it is usually not buoyed. Visibility is good and the current is usually mild.
<back to top>


8. MAITLAND

Length: 133'          Beam: 26'          Depth: 70' - 85'
Type: Three Masted Barque        Lost: June 11, 1871
Built: 1861, Goderich, Ontario

Location:
Lake Michigan, 7 miles west of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: The victim of a peculiar collision, the Maitland was lost when she collided in a glancing blow starboard to starboard with the schooner Golden Harvest. While trying to recover by turning to port, she was struck near her starboard bow by the schooner barge Mears. The second collision made a long vertical slice in her hull causing her to sink in five minutes taking her cargo of corn with her. The Maitland crew was saved but one man died on the Golden Harvest.

Present condition:
The top deck of the Maitland is well preserved and easily visited. The hull is upright and intact but below the top deck, the Maitland is heavily silted making any real penetration impossible. Nonetheless, the slice in her hull and much deck hardware and details are visible. The Samson post, cabin outline, rudder, bilges, mast holes and windlass are all present. What appears to be her deckhouse roof lies upside down off her starboard stern.

Diving conditions:
The current is mild and visibility can be good to excellent. Divers can disturb silt.
<back to top>


9. MINNEAPOLIS

Length: 226'          Beam: N.A.          Depth: 60' - 124'
Type: Wooden Steamer         Lost: April 4, 1894
Built: 1873, Marine City, Michigan

Location:
Lake Michigan, about 500' southwest of south pier of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: The Minneapolis was lost one day after the Barnum sank. Carrying a cargo of wheat with two schooner barges in tow, she was traveling east through a gale when she encountered ice floes. Apparently the ice opened her hull so that she began taking on water. Despite the use of her pumps, the hold was filling rapidly when the crew abandoned ship, transferring to one of the schooners just as she sank bow first.

Present condition:
She sits on a sloping bottom, upright with the bow pointing slightly downward. The bow is broken up and the stern is decaying, but the very large propeller, engine, boiler and smoke stack are all present. An impressive rudder lies on its side off the starboard stern.

Diving conditions:
This can be a very difficult dive. Strong currents sometimes run making descent and ascent difficult. Visibility can vary from poor to good. This is an advanced dive.
<back to top>


10. NORTHWEST

Length: 223'          Beam: N.A.          Depth: 52' - 73'
Type: Wooden Schooner         Lost: April 6, 1898
Built: 1873, Bangor, Michigan

Location:
Lake Michigan, 6 miles west of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: A schooner converted to barge use, the Northwest was undertow with a cargo of corn. She struck ice below her waterline and took on water. Her crew was taken on board one of her escorts without loss of life.

Present condition:
The Northwest is the fourth largest schooner ever lost on the Great Lakes. Today she is largely broken apart lying on the lake floor and bearing little resemblance to the single deck, four masted schooner she was once. Even in this condition, her deck and construction techniques are visible along with her mechanical equipment including a donkey steam engine, bilge pumps, and windlass. Her stern and rudder lie on the lake floor.

Diving conditions:
Because of the scattered condition of the wreck, care should be exercised to keep track of the route back to the mooring line. The current is mild and visibility is usually good.
<back to top>


11. ST. ANDREW

Length: 135'          Beam: N.A.          Depth: 52' - 60'
Type: Wooden Schooner         Lost: June 26, 1878
Built: 1857, Milan, Ohio

Location:
Lake Huron, 11.5 miles east of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: Carrying corn, the St. Andrew sank following a nighttime collision with the schooner Peshtigo. In the collision, both ships sank quickly taking down two members of the Peshtigo crew. All of the St. Andrew crew took to her boats and were saved.

Present condition:
The St. Andrew is upright but decaying. She has split into longitudinal sections but much of her bow and deck are still intact. The top deck shows some examples of the sailing hardware and construction of the time. Her centerboard sits upright and decking partially covers her windlass.

Diving conditions:
A mild current and good visibility are generally present.
<back to top>


12. SANDUSKY

Length: 110'          Beam: 25'          Depth: 70' - 84'
Type: Wooden Two Masted Brig         Lost: September 20, 1856
Built: 1848, Sandusky, Ohio

Location:
Lake Michigan, 5 miles west of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
How lost: No one survived the sinking of the Sandusky. She was carrying a crew of seven and a cargo of grain. A strong gale overwhelmed her off Old Mackinac Point. A passing ship saw three sailors clinging to a spar but the gale prevented them from being reached.

Present condition:
The Sandusky is, perhaps, the best known and most visited dive site in the Straits of Mackinac. She is in relatively shallow water and is a well-preserved example of early Great Lakes sailing vessels. Upright on the bottom, her bowsprit still points upward and a ram's head figurehead crowns the bow. Figureheads are not typical on Great Lakes ships and this one is a replica. The original was removed for preservation after an attempted theft some years ago. While much of her hardware has illegally disappeared over the years, her rudder, tiller, capstan, working bilge pump, masts and rigging are still on site.

Diving conditions:
The current is mild and visibility is usually good. Silt has settled on the deck but poses little impediment to viewing the ship unless other divers stir it up.
<back to top>


13.WILLIAM YOUNG

Length: estimated 148'        Beam: N/A         Depth: 100 - 120'
Type: Schooner barge         Lost:1891
Built: 1863, Marine City, Michigan

Location:
Lake Huron, 1.25 miles east of Mackinac Bridge

Description:
Note: This shipwreck was discovered in midsummer, 2002. There is a great deal still unknown about it.

How lost: The Young was a former schooner bark converted to use as a tow barge. She was towing a cargo of coal when lost. She began taking on water and sank, probably in bad weather. No information now available on loss of life.

Present condition:
She struck bottom bow first resulting in damage to the bow. The top deck cabins are gone. The remainder of the hull is upright and in good condition. The holds are still full of coal eliminating any real penetration. The broken bow does, however, feature a "swimthrough" from the forward hatch to the anchors which still hang gracefully on each side. Because this wreck was not found earlier, it has not been looted and there is much to see. The ship's wheel, two anchors, a capstan, windlass, deadeyes, one mast, rigging and hardware can all be seen. A portion of the bow deck, perhaps broken off on impact, lies about 50' astern. Much more awaits discovery.

Diving conditions:
Some current is usually present. It can range to a strong current. Visibility varies as well but on some occasions has been excellent. The site will have to be visited more often to see if any pattern exists.
<back to top>

 

587 N. State St. in St. Ignace, Michigan
810-240-4320
straitsscuba@gmail.com