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Great Lakes Info

Glenn MacGrady

Staff member
Oct 24, 2012
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"Eighty-four percent of North America’s fresh water comes from the Great Lakes and they hold about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water."

"The last ice age formed them about 14,000 years ago. The surface area of the six lakes is bigger than the New England States combined. In 1940, approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population lived in and around the Great Lakes."

"Though storms on the lakes may not be quite as violent as those on the oceans, over the years more than 8,000 ships have been sunk and more than 10,000 lives lost."

Thinking of Great Lakes shipwrecks, be ready for regular radio play of Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in a severe storm in November 1975 on Lake Superior. Also, the wreck of Griffin, an early fur trade vessel, which disappeared in northern Lake Michigan in the late 1600’s, may have been found. Many have searched for this wreck over years. It is considered the most sought after wreck on the Great Lakes by those who search for them.

A friend of mine died while diving on the wreck of the SS Wisconsin which went down off Kenosha WI in 1929. He became tangled in the ships rigging.
Many years back while inn college on a cold winter day I was hitch-hiking across Michigan's UP to get to Chick's place. I had a car, but back then you could literally hitch about as fast as you can drive it, which I did often. Plus premium leaded gas was $0.76 a gallon.

Coming out of Marquette I was picked up be a guy with South Carolina plates. Jumped in, standard patter and off we went. Pretty obvious from the start this cat had done a whole lot of winter driving. After the third time I was afraid for my life I asked him if he would like me to drive to which he responded "would you?". So were now driving along and we come across the Whitefish Bay sign, which is in Gordo's song. I explained the song - sang a few bars and The Wreck finally creeped into his brain. He did recall the ship song, but said he thought it was on Lake Superior. I pointed out this was Lake Superior. He was shocked a lake could be that big - he thought this was the Atlantic Ocean
Thinking of Great Lakes shipwrecks, be ready for regular radio play of Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

"Nearly 50 years after its final voyage and the mysterious circumstances surrounding its sinking into stormy Lake Superior waters, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald still holds a special place in Great Lakes lore."

Lake Erie has the best fishing by far! I also contend that it has the most adventurous paddling; the conditions change on a dime.

I’m biased of course living in the beautiful city of Cleveland.
We have a sailboat we keep in Erie, PA. Condition changes on that lake are no joke. Pleasant sailing in 1-2ft waves can quickly go to double-reefed crashing through fast-period wave trains trying to make way back to port. We also often paddle around the peninsula that is Presque Isle State Park. It can be remarkably calm in the lagoons with the current as the only indication of wind out in the bay. Paddle along to one of the mouths to the bay and one can be greeted by some pretty foul paddling conditions!

We have done a lot of paddling around bays on Lake Huron, too, around Hessel, Cedarville, Les Cheneaux Islands, St. Martin’s Bay, and around Drummond Island’s many bays. The island hopping around Drummond is fantastic, but one had better know the forecast and understand weather tells, and be prepared to wait out weather. Even in the bays, a good blow with fetch will kick up unpleasant conditions quickly.