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BREE'S BLOG: In The Wake of the Fitzgerald

On the track of the Fitzgerald: Two Harbors

Cautiously, I was sailing up the North Shore, always with one hand on my tiller and the other hand very close to the mainsheet. Persistence was a centerboarder and did not have any outside ballast -- no lead mine below to lever me back up. In fact, I had been warned on this matter: "If you ever go over, you're not coming back up." That added to the excitement of the voyage. I sailed out of Knife River and headed north beyond Two Harbors, which was pretty much following the track of the doomed Edmund Fitzgerald, but there was a big difference: In my 20-foot sailboat, I was tossed about my every wave train. My fanny sat only a few feet above the water. Occasionally, to remind me of where I was, there was a dollop of water that came aboard. The 720-foot steel ore carrier had a wheelhouse 40 feet above the water. The waves I was in would hardly move her. It was at the Two Harbors ore dock that a second boat involved in the tragedy was just departing for her run to the head of the lake. The newly lengthened 767-foot Arthur M Anderson was also enjoying the balmy Indian Summer and like the Fitzgerald she was listening to the radio weather forecasts which called for small craft warnings and a storm later on the eastern portion of the lake. It was only after both boats were well out to sea that the forecast was revised for gale warnings. By about 7 p.m. the northeaster storm hit western Superior with heavy winds which both boats stood up to as they were designed to do. The balmy, sunny weather was now changed in moments. Now up to two inches of snow lay upon the shore. It was the beginning.
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