June 23, 2014

Shipwreck of the cornelia windiate

Last day of diving and most of us were looking to get back to Milwaukee and Chicago at a decent hour so we made the decision to dive the Cornelia Windiate and the sinkholes of middle island. After working through some communication challenges we set a course for the Windiate. The windiate is at 185 ft of water.  She was carrying thousands of bushels of wheat which is sealed inside the cargo holds inside the Windiate.

Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate
 She was bound for New York and made its final course in the ice and the challenges that the Great Lakes unrelentingly deliver.  The Windite's story is that it was thought to have perished in lake Michigan until it was discovered in the 1980s past the Straits of Mackinaw in Lake Huron. . She is Frozen in time almost perfectly in tact and yet another Ghostship with the lives of the crew that she took with her under the ice where she was delicately placed where she sit now under and at the bottom of where our charterd dive boat has stopped on this calm and sunny day
Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate
We gear up and giant stride into the water for our last day of diving. We descend down the mooring line past the drapped rigging of the masts to the usual 165ft. of depth at the deck in 37 degree water and continue to circumnavigate the windiate.
Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate
One of the first things I notice is the life boat on the side of the wreck that was never used and gives this wreck some very interesting perspective and charter to the historic ghost ships of the Great Lakes.  The steering wheel is still on the windiate which was incredible to see and very appreciated as artifacts seem to disappear from ships.
Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate
I continue to work to the stern and proceed down the spiral stairs into the cabin compartment below.

Spiral Stairs of the Windiate (this is not my photo) this is NOAA's photo on

 My helmet lights barely light up the room but I noticed a chair and some broken pieces of wood laying around the ambient light came through the windows and for a moment in my nitrous rave party state of mind I was in from the narcosis, I thought to myself about what the captain and crew were looking at in 1875 when they looked out through these windows the last day that the windiate sailed Lake Huron.
Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate
I work my way outside and I look for my dive buddy as he waiting while I went I to the cabin quarters. I look to the stern look up and around and up the mooring line but I do not see him anywhere. As I started to think that he shot up to the surface I felt a tap on my shoulder And he was hovering over me the whole time!!! Haha. I was startled and relieved that nothing happened.

Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate

That could have been the ghost of the captain in charge of the windiate dragging me back down to the cabin quarters!!!!! We make a brief and quick traverse to the bow start our ascent to the surface.

Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate
The last decompression procedure of the trip went flawlessly and no issues with the ascent which made for a great ending to the dive trip.  We got back to shore and loaded up our cars to start our route back to Chicago.  The car ride was uneventful and tiring the same time but it was good to think about how I have reached my personal and chosen limit to diving and any more technical diving will require me to get trained utilizing Trimix blends.  Furthermore I got to think about how all this time, money, effort, training, team selection, work, and luck, go into having a dive that allows me only 15-20 minutes to enjoy something.  15-20 minutes is not a lot of time when I consider all the mountains, caves, canyons, jungles, and deserts I have enjoyed throughout my life.  I love shipwreck diving but am I really working towards my endeavors to explore the places I really want to explore or is this just an expensive tourist destination of sorts?  Am I investing my time, money, and efforts for my ultimate true passions, am I really where I want to be to explore and discover or am I just satisfying a desire "explore" what has already been found?  questions I am contemplating and I think I already know the answers to. 
What I do know is that I can appreciate what the members of the crew on these wooden ships had to go up aganist with the rough winter seas on the great lakes 150 years ago with no coast guard or modern technology on their side.   They had their compass, map, and the will to survive in order to get the job done.  If the objective was to deliver grain, wood, steel, or other valuable merchandise, The blood, sweat, and tears that the crew went through to get the job done helped to build this countries foundational economy even before the Civil War started.  These engineers that developed these ships and the mariners that set sail in these conditions, helped to set that standard that we have today and these ghost ships of the great lakes are a perfect example that fairy tale happy endings are only found in some massage parlors unless you work hard at what you believe in.

Shipwreck of the Cornelia Windiate

 Thunder Bay Scuba : 

You Might Also Like