August 29, 2017
The tugboat captain and I were seated in his pilothouse observing a wall of steel sliding past us and out the Superior entryway. It was near midnight and a giant oreboat was going out of the harbor. It was also through this entryway, one of two into the Duluth - Superior Harbor, that the Edmund Fitzgerald entered Lake Superior and sailed on into its terrible fate. The day of Nov. 9, 1975, was unseasonably warm, and picture perfect, with the sort of muggy heat that most mariners know in their hearts that something is about to happen. The weather forecast was for possible storms later on, but for now, the Fitz had a full load of iron ore and she was steaming out fast. "I heard that the crew was still fastening the hatch covers as they left port," I said. The captain shook his head: "Nothing new. They often do that to save time on a calm day and fasten them at their leasure out to sea." I nodded. Nothing wrong there.