For one of America’s finest scuba diving experiences, head inland to the Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet. Hundreds of well-preserved wrecks invite divers to gear up and come to explore. Wooden schooners of the XIX century, modern steel cargo ships, tugboats, barges… Boats of all kinds lie in the green waters of the lakes as if frozen in time.
Maybe you won’t see a lot of marine life, but the big attraction here are the wrecks. There are many shallow water wrecks which are perfect for beginners.
Lakes Huron, Superior, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario stretch across much of the northern border of the United States, from the Midwest to the Northeast. Providers on the shores of Michigan rent diving equipment, organize expeditions, and offer certification courses for new divers.
To help you plan your stay, here we present some most fascinating shipwrecks to explore in the Great Lakes.
Alger Underwater Preserve, Lake Superior: The Bermuda Wreck, a wooden schooner about 40 meters long that sits in shallow water, is an excellent dive site for beginners. The sailboat had sunk in 1870 during a severe storm. It now lies less than four meters deep in the Alger Underwater Preserve. This Lake Superior underwater reserve is located off the north coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, about 470 kilometers northeast of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shipwreck Tours offers to explore the Bermuda Wreck. You will need to rent snorkel gear separately.
Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve, Lake Huron: It is one of the very first steel-hulled ships in the USA, and it is the first wreck considered a Michigan Underwater Historic Site. After a long career as the first steel tug to navigate the Great Lakes, a violent storm swept away the Sport in 1920. It now rests at a depth of ten meters in the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve (Sanilac Shores submarine reserve), and they strew many artifacts from its last voyage around the ship at the bottom of the Lake Huron.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Lake Huron: The fate of the Nordmeer, a German-built vessel, was sealed when it ran aground on the shoals of the Thunder Bay Island in the Lake Huron in 1966. There is an enormous amount of twisted metal to explore along this approximately 145-meter vessel, and the wreck being only twelve meters deep, it is accessible to divers of all skill levels. In Presque Isle, a Michigan community about 430 kilometers north of Detroit, MN-Blackdog Diving organizes boat trips to the dive site which is in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. You will need to rent your equipment separately.
Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve, Straits of Mackinac: Straits of Mackinac, the eight-kilometer-wide strait that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, is an underwater cemetery. Eber Ward, a wooden steamboat, sank 45 meters deep in 1909, in the waters of what we now know as Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve. It would take at least a dozen scuba diving sessions to see all what there is to see about this wreck while pointing to the bow anchors, which are just one example of the many interesting features of the boat.
Weather can change quickly in the Great Lakes, so do not be disappointed if the ship’s captain stays in port. Captains know what they are doing and always make the best decision for divers.