Shipwreck discovered between Saugatuck and South Haven

Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates made the discovery of the 60-foot, single-masted sloop dating back to perhaps the 1830s in deep water between Saugatuck and South Haven.


By Jim Hayden - The Holland Sentinel


Researchers have found the shipwreck of what could be one of the oldest vessels in southern Lake Michigan.

Underwater video of this new discovery will be shown at the annual Mysteries and Histories Beneath the Inland Seas event at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland.

Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates made the discovery of the 60-foot, single-masted sloop dating back to perhaps the 1830s in deep water between Saugatuck and South Haven. The group was working in collaboration with author Clive Cussler and his sonar operator Ralph Wilbanks of the National Underwater & Marine Agency.

During an exploratory dive to the 250-foot deep wreck, the research group made note of three features that are significantly different from sailing vessels dating to the mid- and late-19th-century: the lack of a centerboard, the presence of a raised afterdeck and deadlights (a pair of openings) in the stern that allowed light to reach the cargo hold.

The shipwreck group’s historians have verified that the vessel’s construction and design is consistent with ships built in the 1820s and 1830s, making it perhaps one of the oldest vessels discovered in the southern basin of Lake Michigan. The vessel sits upright and is in good condition considering it was built nearly 200 years ago.


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Clive Cussler Lake Michigan shipwreck South Haven Saugatuck Mysteries and Histories Beneath the Inland Seas