Diving the St. Peter shipwreck

St Peter wreck 
Sketch Robert Doornbos

By Stephen Kloosterman - The Holland Sentinel

The wreck’s woodwork appears specked with tiny shellfish, and — at 350 feet below the waves of Lake Michigan — is barely visible in the dark and murky water.  

But a video captured by a Holland-based group of shipwreck hunters still shows the elaborate scroll work on the bow of a once-proud, 90-foot schooner that sank more than a century ago.

The nonprofit Michigan Shipwreck Research Association on Friday released details and video from a groundbreaking dive that took place in October.

“This is the deepest schooner yet found in Lake Michigan,” said Valerie van Heest, a member of the association board of directors. After months of research, the organization believes the vessel is the St. Peter, a schooner abandoned off the coast of Wisconsin in 1874.

The divers, Holland’s Jeff Vos and Saugatuck’s Todd White, breathed a special mix of helium and air, and practiced advanced dive techniques months in advance of the deep dive at a site about 20 miles off the coast of Grand Haven.

“It’s always exciting, seeing something new nobody else has seen before,” Vos said. “You could still see the grain of the wood on the deck.

“We’re definitely going to have to go back,” he added, saying there were a number of artifacts, such as the anchor and pulleys, that could help them positively identify the wreck.

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