Saturday, September 17, 2011

Police postpone retrieval of cannon from river

DETROIT (AP) — Police divers on Sept. 7 postponed retrieval of a possibly centuries-old cannon from the Detroit River after strong currents and murky water thwarted efforts to raise it to the surface.
The divers were assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard until the operation was shut down, Detroit police spokeswoman Eren Stephens said.
No new recovery date was announced.
This photo shot by Sgt. Ken Stiel and provided by the Detroit Police department shows a cannon believed to be more than 200 years old in the Detroit River. Divers planned on recovering the cannon on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, before murky waters and a strong current forced a cancellation of the project. It's the fifth cannon found in the area in three decades.
Dive team members discovered the cannon about 200 feet from Cobo Center in downtown Detroit during a training session in July. It's the fifth cannon found in the area in three decades.
Once it's recovered, the Detroit Historical Society hopes to restore and preserve the cannon, which is more than 6 feet long and likely weighs about 1,200 pounds.
Three other cannons were recovered in the 1980s and a fourth was recovered by the department's dive team in 1994. Those are believed to be British and French. Detroit Historical Society Curator Joel Stone said the latest find will be studied to try to determine its age and where it came from.
"This is all kind of a detective thing," Stone said. "You get one piece of the puzzle, and then you get another piece of the puzzle."
The cannon could be one of several believed to have fallen into the river in 1796 when they were being transported by the British, Detroit police said. Cannons that have been found in the area, however, also may have gone down anytime up to the War of 1812, Stone said.
Sgt. Dean Rademaker, who took part in the dive when the last cannon was found in 1994, spotted what turned out to be the latest one in July. Department divers previously had been to that area of the river hundreds of times without finding it, Rademaker said.
"I thought to myself, 'You gotta be kidding me,'" he said of the discovery.
Divers more typically find cars and guns. In 2009 during a training session, they turned up a 6-foot, 300-pound bronze statue that had been missing for more than eight years from the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. The statue was returned to its suburban Detroit home.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Exploring the Eliza Strong shipwreck in Lake Huron

As promised, here is a short video of my weekend dive with Bruno's Dive Shop, located in Clinton Township, on the Eliza H. Strong. The Strong was  a barge that was carrying lumber when it caught fire and sunk on Oct. 25, 1904, about a mile from Lexington. She sits in about 20 feet of water and is home to many interesting treasures, including the old-fashioned square-headed nails and a sink that is still attached to the craft. In fact, during the video, you will see me "washing" my hands in the sink.
The video is courtesy of Michael Lynch, an instructor who runs his own Great Lakes diving site called michigandiver.com, and Bruno's Dive Shop.
video

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dives on the Strong and the Sport provide chance to watch father and son begin checkout dive process

Do to an unexpected change in my work schedule, I had been unable to do much diving this summer.
But I was able to get out recently and did a couple of wreck dives in Lake Huron near Port Sanilac and Lexington in Michigan’s thumb on the Great Lakes Diver, the dive boat owned by Bruno’s Dive Shop, which is located in Clinton Township.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen and Ryan Puckett, a father and son from Grosse Pointe Woods, who were doing there checkout dives for their open water certification.
Here is an interview I had with them before the dives, during their dive briefings with instructor Rick Davies from Brunos, and then after the dives.

Watching them deal with a combination of excitement and nerves while preparing for their first dive outside of the swimming pool brought me right back to when I was in their position so many years ago.
Am I ready? Can I do it? Will I remember everything from my training?
Since we were doing checkout dives, basically the final exam for new divers, both dives were relatively shallow. Our first dive was down to the Eliza H. Strong, a barge that was carrying lumber when it caught fire and sunk on Oct. 25, 1904, about a mile from Lexington. She sits in about 20 feet of water and is home to many interesting treasures, including the old-fashioned square-headed nails and a sink that is still attached to the craft.
Our second dive was aboard the Sport, a 57-foot tugboat that sunk in a storm off of Lexington on Dec. 13, 1920. She also has the rare distinction of having an underwater state historic site plaque, which was placed there in the early 1990s.
Thanks to some lousy weather, visibility was pretty poor for both dives, but for what I could tell, the Pucketts did fine.
It was great to get back in the water. It made me realize how much I miss it. I only hope I’ll have more chances to dive next year.
Soon, I will add some underwater video and photo stills of my two dives on the Strong and the Sport.