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Jerry Eliason, one of the divers said they were not revealing exactly how his group found the Smith, because he hopes to use the same method to find other wrecks. But he said it wasn't a case of merely running a grid pattern over the lake in hopes of getting lucky. Eliason said the group used a culmination of hunches, research and data to pinpoint a specific search area.
The data pointed them toward a possible wreck about 30 miles north of Marquette, and the hunters found the Smith just 20 minutes after dropping a sonar unit into the water. An underwater camera captured enough detail in videos and photos to convince the group that they found the Smith.
'Going and finding a wreck 20-some miles offshore in the span of a couple hours is extraordinary.'
Fellow hunter Ken Merryman, of Minneapolis, said it appears the ship is broken in the middle but largely intact in the front. The stern has more damage, Merryman said.
'It's a beautiful wreck' with great visibility, he said. 'No zebra mussels; clean.'
The crew will return to the site this summer in hopes of getting more questions answered. But the group is already starting to piece together events that led to the Smith's demise.
'It's very clear to me that this one appeared to have broken on the surface, spilled its iron ore contents over the bottom, and then landed on the iron ore,' said Jerry Eliason, who had been considering retiring from wreck hunting partly because he wasn't expecting any more significant finds on Lake Superior
Originally posted by Beartracker16
Another reminder of the Witch of November.
That storm on November 7-10 1913 sank 19 ships in total and stranded 19 others. It cost 250 lives on the lakes.
The depth and cold water temperatures likely had a lot to do with the state of preservation of that wreck.
The Witch of November, or November Witch, refers to the strong winds that frequently blow across the Great Lakes in Autumn. The "witches" are caused by intense low-pressure over the Great Lakes pulling cold Canadian/Arctic air from the north or northwest and warm Gulf air from the south. When these cold and warm fronts collide they can result in hurricane force winds that stir up large waves on the Lakes.
The storm that wrecked the Edmund Fitzgerald was 978 mbar, equivalent to a borderline Category 1/2 hurricane. Similar witches have caused numerous shipwrecks over the years. Another storm that hit in November 1998 was 967 mbar, equivalent to a solid Category 2 hurricane. A still stronger storm, of October 2010, brought Minnesota and Wisconsin record low barometric pressures of, respectively, 954.96 and 961.06 mbar (both equivalent to a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale) and lashed Duluth with 81 mph wind gusts and 19-foot seas during the night of October 26–27, 2010.
Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" makes reference to The Witch of November. When the History Channel featured Great Lakes shipwrecks, they used the term November Witch almost exclusively.
The following list includes ships that sank during the storm, killing their entire crews. It does not include the three victims from the freighter William Nottingham, who volunteered to leave the ship on a lifeboat in search of assistance. While the boat was being lowered into the water, a breaking wave smashed it into the side of the ship. The men disappeared into the near-freezing waters below. The following shipwreck casualties have been documented:
Leafield: 18 victims
Henry B. Smith: 25 victims
Plymouth (barge): 7 victims
Argus: 28 victims
James Carruthers: 22 victims
Hydrus: 25 victims
John A. McGean: 28 victims
Charles S. Price: 28 victims
Regina: 20 victims
Isaac M. Scott: 28 victims
Wexford: 20 victims
Lightship LV 82, Buffalo: 6 victims
Of the twelve ships that sank in the storm, five have never been found: Henry B. Smith, Leafield, James Carruthers, Plymouth, and the Hydrus. The most recent discovery was that of Wexford in the summer of 2000. The "Henry B. Smith" appears to have been located in June of 2013