An August weekend in Munising
By: Dave Sommers and Mike Fabish
August 26 was a clear Friday that saw several local explorers headed north to the land of Hiawatha.
The explorers, as in Saginaw Underwater Explorers were heading to Munising for a weekend diving in the Alger Underwater Preserve and checking the sights along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
The group included Mike Fabish, Greg Prenzler, Dave and Edith Sommers, Tim Hastings, Bill Atkins, Scot Thompson and his German exchange student Sina Porrmann. Tony Piazza and his wife Carol were to meet the group in Munising. With a three-vehicle convoy, that included Tim’s and Dave’s boat, the group departed about 8 am.
After a fuel and lunch break in St. Ignance we headed to the Terrace Motel where everyone took a brief break and readied equipment. The boats were in the water for a short trip to Murray Bay and a dive on the Bermuda, a 130-foot wooden schooner in about 20 feet of water. It sank October 15, 1870
The Glass Bottom Boat runs a regular tour of several of the shipwrecks in the area. They ask that divers stay free of the wrecks during the scheduled tours, and have notices for the divers posted on the buoy marking the wrecks. At least the Bermuda had it. Unknown to us they had added a sunset cruise, which wasn’t posted. Partway through our dive Tim surfaced to see the Glass Bottom Boat and Edith frantically waving him over. He then went down and motioned for everyone to surface. While this disrupted the dive, the staff of the boat gave all of the divers a free air fill.
Saturday morning was clear with a freshening breeze, tossing white caps on Munising Bay. We decided that it would be too rough to head out to the Smith Moore and headed back to the Bermuda, where we got chased off once again by the tour boats.
Trying to dodge the weather, we headed to the west side of Grand Island but the weather was worse. Dave, Tony, Scot and Sina decided the weather was too rough for a fun dive out of the 19’ boat and headed to the Grand Island dock to check out the island. The other group met up with us and decided to head out to the Hettler.
The Herman Hettler was easy to find, it was buoyed and you can see it form the surface. The water was a bit rough when going there but calmed down to mostly flat by the time we ended our tow dives. I was paired with Greg, and Bill and Tim dove as buddies. The Hettler is in about 20’-24’ feet, and there’s not much there other than the main keel and sides of the boat. There was a lot of parts and hardware strew around the wreck to see. But it was still fun to see and I built one of our new SUE Signature Rock Towers on the keel beam before surfacing (see pic). It became a new “thing to do” on each wreck/site we visited (with rocks available), just for fun. Bill and Tim found a different section of the Hettler that still had the big fluke anchor and part of the stern. Greg & I saw it after their dive from the surface.
Sunday started early, with fog still on the lake. The first divers were on the Smith Moore by 9 am. The ship rests in about 80 feet. It is wooden steam barge that sank in 1889. The visibility was only about 10 feet so it wasn’t the best of the dives, but fun nevertheless.
While on the wreck, Pete Lindquest, dean of the Munising dive area, pulled up with a charter. While his group was down we had a nice chat.
Our next destination was the Selvick. A 70’ long steel tugboat that was intentionally sunk in the preserve in 1996 in about 45-60 feet of water. It was a great dive on an intact ship. There was plenty to see and a lot of open spaces. The water was around 68° which made for a nice warm dive, even for those in wet suits.
Tony needed to return to Saginaw so we dropped him off at the Munising boat launch and had lunch. With the day still young, the group decided to head about 20 miles to the Kiowa. Edith came along for a boat ride. About half way there Dave figured he wouldn’t have enough fuel to get there and return. Scot transferred to Tim’s boat as Dave, Edith and Sina toured along the Pictured Rocks.
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