Wednesday, September 26, 2012

West Michigan Underwater Preserve becomes official

A number of Lake Michigan shipwrecks are now being officially protected and promoted as Michigan’s 13th underwater preserve.
The West Michigan Underwater Preserve recently became official with the filing of paperwork with the state.
The new preserve covers about 345 square miles and features 13 identified shipwrecks and three other diving structures. It encompasses West Michigan’s shoreline from a point between Grand Haven and Holland north to the northern boundary of Ludington State Park. This area contains 13 known shipwrecks, and almost certainly more waiting to be discovered, according to the West Michigan Underwater Preserve website.
West Michigan Underwater Preserve board co-chair John Hanson says the shipwreck represent "maritime history for the whole area."
While I've dived in Lake Michigan on the western side of the state (Traverse City), I've never put in that far south. After reading this story, it certainly seems like a place I would like to check out. In addition, it seems to have dive sites ranging from novice to advanced.
The benefits of establishing the preserve are basically threefold, all designed to protect the wrecks.
First, the wrecks are protected as "underwater museums," which means they cannot be destroyed and in theory, divers cannot remove artifacts from the wrecks.
Secondly, the wrecks will be marked with buoys so boats and divers can locate the wrecks more easily.
And lastly, the wrecks will be chartered on maps to protect them from boat traffic in the West Michigan area of the lake.
Here is some brief information about each of the wreck sites, as provided by the West Michigan Underwater Preserve website:
Built in Cleveland in 1868, the Brightie foundered in Lake Michigan north of Whitehall on August 13, 1928. She is broken up timbers and lies in abou 70 feet of water.
The Clay Wall
The Comanche
The naturally occurring clay wall lies in 50 feet of water about 1/2 mile northwest of the Whitehall Channel.

The Comanche
Approximately five miles north of Pentwater, the Comanche is a 75 - 100 foot tugboat in 75 feet of water.

The Henry Cort
A 320-foot whaleback steamer, the Henry Cort was stranded along the Muskegon Breakwall of Lake Michigan on Nov. 30, 1934. The crew survived, but one rescuer was lost in the storm. She lies in 20-30 feet of water.

The Daisy Day
A shallow wreck, the Daisy Day is a 103-foot wooden steam-powered bulk freighter that sank in Lake Michigan in 1891. She is described as sitting in shallow water off Claybanks Twp Park in Oceana County.

The William B. Davock
About 1.9 miles off the Little Sable Light lies the William B. Davock, a 420-foot steel bulk freight steamer. She sank in more than 200 feet of water in the Armistice Day storm of 1940. She sits in 215-240 feet of water, beyond recreational dive limits.

Hamilton Reef
The Hamilton Reef (also known as "The Rock Pile") is an artificial reef of cement rubble in a snake formation that lies just south of the Muskegon Channel in Lake Michigan. It provides habitat for fish, making it an interesting dive. It sits in about 30 feet of water.

The Helen
The Helen, a 90-foot merchant schooner, sank in the gale of November 18, 1886. She lies in 10 feet of water about one mile north of the Muskegon Channel. She is an elusive wreck, appearing and disappearing in the shifting sands of Lake Michigan.

The Interlaken
The Interlaken went down in a storm in 1936. She is in Lake Michigan about 7 miles north of Whitehall in 15 feet of water.

In 120 feet of water four miles west of the Grand Haven Channel lies the Ironsides, a 218-foot wooden twin prop steamer. She foundered in heavy seas on September 15, 1873.
The Anna C. Minch
The Anna C. Minch
The Anna C. Minch went down in the Armistice Day storm on November 11, 1940. She is a 380-foot steel bulk freighter steamer, and was broken in two during the storm. She sits in 35-45 feet of water.

The Novadoc

The Novadoc shipwreck is 252-foot steel bulk freighter off Juniper Beach near Pentwater Built in 1928 at Wallsend, England, the Novadoc sank during the Armistice Day storm in 1940. She can be observed by either diving or snorkeling in 12-15 feet of water.

The Salvor
The State of Michigan
The Salvor is a 253-foot wooden pseduo-whaleback steamer that was converted to a steel bulk freight barge. She foundered in a storm in 1930 while being towed. She lies in 25-30 feet of water.

The State of Michigan
A 165-foot wooden passenger freight steamer, the State of Michigan was built in 1875 in Manitowac, WI. She sank in Lake Michigan about two miles north of Whtehall on October 18, 1901. The boiler and outer hull are intact. She sits in 60-75 feet of water.

The State of Michigan
For more information, go the the West Michigan Underwater Preserve site at