Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Canton shipwreck hunter announces discovery of 133-year-old wooden steamer in Lake Huron

Shipwreck hunter David Trotter and his expedition team, Undersea Research Associates, announced today the discovery of the 133-year-old New York, a 283-foot wooden steamer found this summer in Lake Huron after about two years of searching.
The ship was first located by sonar scanning in May and was found by divers in July in about 240 feet of water. It sits upright, but it has major stern damage after sinking from that direction. It is located about 20 miles southeast of Alpena, or about 75 degrees and 25 miles out from the small port of Harrisville.
At the time of the sinking, the New York was the largest wooden vessel plying the Great Lakes. Historically, she represents a transitional period in shipping in which steel-hulled boats were becoming the norm.

I interviewed Trotter this afternoon and will have video of that discussion later on this week along with a more extensive story. So stay tuned for that.

The 283-foot New York while she was still in service.
The New York was headed northbound in October 1910 from Detroit to Canada carrying a load of coal when it was caught in a violent gale. She lost power and fell into a trough (sideways) where the waves pummeled the ship.
The 430-foot steamer Mataafa, with the 376-foot Whaleback Alexander Holley in tow, spotted the New York and realized she was in serious danger. Captain Regan, of the Mataafa, began a turn into the raging seas when its load of iron ore shifted, causing the vessel to nearly capsize. She was now two feet lower on one side. Despite the risks, Regan brought the Mataafa around and headed toward the New York. They also poured about 40 gallons of oil into Lake Huron to calm the water.
The 14-member crew of the New York was able to transfer into two small lifeboats and was then picked up by the Mataafa. No souls were lost.
Trotter, a scuba diver since 1965, has been wreck hunting for 30 years. During that time, he has discovered 90-100 wrecks. He puts the discovery of the New York in his top five, primarily due to its historical signficance.

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