October 24, 2017
The harbor fog misted about as I entered Persistence's cockpit. It was cold and dark where I lay berthed in Two Harbors, but I still remember one story of the diver Bill Burke. I had asked, "Isn't there a ship lying out near where I'm berthed?" Bill nodded and said told me it was the Ely, a three-masted schooner that got broken on the rocks in a storm in 1896. "Fascinating wreck -- some of the original paint is still on the docks, that's how well preserved it is. I invited up a diver who was used to salt water, and he was amazed. He told me..that the wreck was 'fantastic,' saying how on any wreck he'd dived on in the ocean that there was practically nothing left because of the salt water's erosion. "But here," he said, "I couldn't believe how good of a shape that vessel was in. " Bill nodded sagely. "It's all so impressive, the shipwrecks we have up here. It's quite a diver's paradise." But onboard my boat, I paused for a moment to stare over the harbor toward the breakwater. I knew now what lay out there. Beneath the surface was another boat, the Ely, all 200 feet of her. I shivered, but not from the harbor's chill. This might be a paradise, of sorts, for divers, but for the skipper of a very small sailboat, it was altogether something else. And beyond the breakwaters, lay the watery path of another doomed vessel, the Edmund Fitzgerald. I was getting to know her waters better.