Valerie Van Heest
By Jim Hayden - The Holland Sentinel
Divers looking for shipwrecks don’t often make a significant find before their feet even get wet, but history is always full of surprises.
The group Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates recently received the 8-foot-long nameplate for the Andaste, the ship the divers will be looking for off the coast of Port Sheldon later this week.
“I don’t think there can be anything more important to show it’s proof positive from the ship,” said group Director Valerie van Heest about the wood with the lead letters of the ship’s name.
The name plate was discovered by Bud Gebben’s father just days after the ship sank in September 1929.
“He was very proud of it,” said Gebben of his father, Gerald, who died two years ago at the age of 89.
The Gebben family owned a store in Port Sheldon at the time. Gerald sailed his family’s sailboat out of Pigeon Lake a few days after the disappearance of the freighter.
In shallow water between the sandbars, he found the planking from the upper pilothouse on which the lead letters were screwed.
“It’s something my dad always talked about,” said Gebben.
The elder Gebben displayed the artifact until his death.
“We were cleaning his house and rather than throwing it away, we wanted to find a permanent home for it,” said Gebben, 65, who lives in Holland.