October 2, 2017
It was foggy and stormy out on the Big Lake as I sat in the tiny cockpit of Persistence. We were securely tied up to a barge in Two Harbors, Minnesota, near the old steam tugboat, the Edna G. Out there, just past the breakwaters not far away, Superior was kicking up big waves from the north and east, probably the same situation the Fitzgerald found itself in when it joined up with the oreboat Arthur M. Anderson, just leaving Two Harbors, to follow the Northern Trek. The Fitzgerald probably would be encountering its old enemy, some kind of internal structural failure that led it to shake like somebody just dove off a diving board, the "wriggling thing." This was phenomenon was well known in the waterfront community, with several telling me she had a loose keel -- parts of her keel had broken loose from her one-inch thick steel hull plates. She wriggled so bad, one sailor reported, that in the tunnel that runs from the forward section to the aft section, he saw the entire front disappear. An attempt to weld up the keel over the winter had failed. Was this the cause of her ultimate disappearance?