Annual festival offers rare glimpse of underwater shipwrecks
By Alana West - Dexter Patch
Eighteen different programs were offered Saturday at the 30th annual Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival, held at Washtenaw Community College in Scio Township. The event benefits the Ford Seahorses Scuba Diving Club, a member of the Ford Motor Company's Employees Recreation Association.
Eight of the programs took those attending on a video tour to explore shipwrecks fathoms deep beneath the Great Lakes. Roughly 300 people attended the event.
Lori Courvoisier of Ann Arbor said that the event was a lot of fun.
"When you get divers together they tell a bunch of stories and plan trips," she said. "You can learn a lot of neat stuff about the Great Lakes."
Among the programs offered were presentations on the Lady Elgin, a ship that sunk in 1860, leading to the deaths of 300 people; a 206-foot three-mast schooner called the John Shaw that sunk in 1894 with 1,759 tons of coal in 128 feet of water; and the Marion Egan, which sunk in 1875 when it collided with the schooner E.R. Williams. Divers discovered standing masts and an intact cabin when they dove to investigate the wreck.
Ric Mixter, a diver and owner of the documentary studio Airworthy Productions based in Saginaw, presented his documentary on the Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes freighter that sunk in a Lake Superior storm on Nov. 10, 1975. During his presentation he talked about the various groups who have visited the shipwreck, including the explorer Jacques Cousteau in 1980.