Mac’s wreck was located after numerous side scan sonar searches of the area. The original coordinates came from a dive logged by Don McAlhany in the 1980’s. There are no details in the log and Mac does not remember the wreck so given the poor visibility back then, it is possible they never found it.
On October 9, 2010 Ken Riemer, Don McAlhany and Jim Scholz, all members of the Michigan Underwater Divers (MUD) Club did an exploratory dive to see what the side scan sonar was picking up. What we found was a sternpost, a row of rail stanchions, the forepeak, windlass and anchor sticking out of the sand. The following day we returned to shoot the first video and start to take some measurements and make drawings of the wreck.
What has been located is some wood in the outline of a ship buried in the sand up to the level of the deck. At present the following is visible:
At the bow there is the bow-peak. Looking at it head on you can see the stem, tow bit and two hawse pipe opening.
Behind the bow there is a wooden windless approximately 8′ long, consisting of 5 sections separated by iron bands with staggered set in stop block notches. There does not appear to be a capstan.
There is some anchor chain which is figure “8”, closed center links about 5/8 inch diameter configured around the windlass, going through a small hawse pipe opening and connecting to the anchor.
The anchor is iron with a fixed 6 foot cross bar that is 12 inches in circumference with balls on each end and the anchor shank firmly embedded in the sand. The anchor appears to have been on deck as there is some wood underneath the anchor.
There is a stern post and the stern appears to have been square.
On several deck rail posts there are dead eyes banded with round iron bars mounted on flat iron straps.
There is no upper works or rigging visible.
The length from bow peak to stern post is 85 feet with a width of 20′ at the centerboard trunk. Estimated depth is 6 feet but has not been verified.
What appears of some significance are iron cross bars running from the upper corners of the centerboard trunk to the port and starboard hull, that contain turn-buckles that attach to the hull.
The rudder is not visible but the back side of the stern-post is curved as to accept a rudder.
The sand level inside and outside the hull is at the level of where the deck should be, but no deck has been detected through limited probing. Thus far we have not been able to find any cross frames or knees to support the deck. The hull is basically buried with only 11 deck rail posts exposed on the port side and one on the starboard almost covered in the sand.
There is no specific indication to what its cargo was or the reason for its sinking (grounding, collision, fire, foundered). No other special characteristics of the ship or identifiable markings have been found other than those mentioned here.
Future goals are to excavate the sand from within the wreck to determine if any artifacts remain and to allow for full documentation of construction which may assist with identification. It is possible that this may be one of the oldest wrecks located in Lake Michigan but only detailed research and identification will confirm this.
The wreck lies in ~72 feet of water. Visibility has been averaging 20-80′ but will silt up very quickly due to the fine clay bottom.
The wreck is located in Southwest Lake Michigan near the D.C. Cook Nuclear plant. GPS coordinates are being withheld at this time until more documentation of the site can be made.