Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

kevin morgan
31st May 2008, 06:42
Hi i found this music clip last night

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iquCHSkmUek

one of the lads used to play this eerie song in the bar of mv Port Chalmers early 1981 , there are a few versions of the picture footage on the youtube site as well.

Kevin Morgan

AncientBrit
31st May 2008, 10:33
This web-site tells the sad story.
http://www.ssefo.com/
AB

Bruce Carson
31st May 2008, 12:57
The lyrics may be found here:
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=21573

Don Matheson
31st May 2008, 14:05
Had some information from an American friend a few years ago. His father was a captain on a laker and he was behind the Edmund Fitzgerald and after she sunk was involved in the search for her or survivors. Unfortunately no one was ever found and all the crew were lost. He told me the weather was really awful that night and despite lakers not being the best sea boats in the world they searched as long as they could despite the conditions.

Don

lakercapt
31st May 2008, 14:46
It is all a legend now and many things are glossed over.
The facts are not known as there were no survivers but some surmise what happened.
I have some vievs that are shared by others.
The positioning on lakers at that time was Loran "C" and in severe weather conditions it can be inaccurate.
With the poor visibility it was something else.
It is the opinion of some that she bottomed out on Superior shoal and the ingress of water could not be controlled.
On her type of self unloader the holds are not divided into watertight compartments. and when flooding starts the only way to try and control it is by pumps.
Others seem to lean towards one or more of the hatch covers broaching.
I believe she should have sought shelter before but bravado in thinking that they could round Whitefish Point and get into the shelter of Whitefish Bay proved to be a bad decision.
I have had a few anxious times on old lake boats as their scantlins are not like those of deepsea ships (Salties) and many are senior as far as ships go.
A good thing to come out of that tragedy was the much better weather forecasting.

Don Matheson
31st May 2008, 15:01
lakercapt
My friends father thought the same, she should not have been out and I believe other captains were risking their ship to go out to look for her. If I remember he thought the hatches may have broached causing her to go down but as you say we will never know.
Knowing the age of some of the older lakers, have they improved them in any way, scantlins or hatches or any improvements at all.

Don

lakercapt
31st May 2008, 16:37
Due to the age of many of the lake boats they have surveys and are constantly renewing steelwork. This is done in the lay up period in winter.
Most have no coatings in their ballast tanks which does not help. This more so on the Canadian fleets as they often go down below Quebec city and have salt water in the tanks. Having crawled through some of the tanks it can be cause for concern and you then never take risks in being caught out in severe weather as though the waves don't get to ocean proportions they are big enogh to cause grief

hughesy
31st May 2008, 18:21
Theres a book about the Edmumd Fitzgerald, called "The Gales of November"
it gives a lot of insight about what happend to this vessel, and a good background on the crew .Its a good read.
I play that song too, and Christie Moore has a song "Back home in Derry' which is very nearly the same tune.
Some one told me its and old Irish tune?
All the best
Hughesy

Don Matheson
31st May 2008, 20:31
Lakercapt
Thanks for the information. Know some of the boats are getting up around being genuine antiques but still working so winter layup must be a busy time for the repair yards,
Quite forgot about them going down below Quebec andthe damage the sea water must do to the tanks. How about the bigger newer ones like Algolake and such, how do they fare regarding tank life.

Don
PS Have a small model of the Fitzgerald just beside my screen.

James_C
31st May 2008, 20:39
Isn't there still a few Lakers with with steam recips? I seem to recall a few propely antique (i.e. Edwardian) US lakers still kicking about.

Don Matheson
31st May 2008, 21:19
James
I am sure Lakercapt will explain it better but the JB Ford was launched in 1904 and was fitted with a triple expansion engine. She is still in use today but as a storage unit as I believe her Coast Guard papers were cancelled in 1985. Still afloat although moored but what a history of over 100 years in service.
A few others still around but a lot built after 1945 were fitted with turbine engines, but still chugging around, if a turbine can be described as chugging.
Don

lakercapt
31st May 2008, 23:05
Lakercapt
Thanks for the information. Know some of the boats are getting up around being genuine antiques but still working so winter layup must be a busy time for the repair yards,
Quite forgot about them going down below Quebec andthe damage the sea water must do to the tanks. How about the bigger newer ones like Algolake and such, how do they fare regarding tank life.

Don
PS Have a small model of the Fitzgerald just beside my screen.

Hi Don
The Algolake that you mentioned seldom goes into the lower seaway (i.e. down past Montreal) as she is mainly on the coal trade.
A few of CSL ships have had their forebody rebuilt and made slightly larger as the "Seaway Authorities" relaxed the size rules.
In fact a couple of Algoma self unloaders are being towed to cChina to be rebuilt. The Algobay had been laid up for several years as the hull steelwork was rotted away. Ahe had been flagged out at one time and was the norm did not have any ballast tank coatings.
The lakers that are worst effected are the straight deckers as their trade is to lower St.Lawrence ports and salt water.
I don't know of any triple expansion (steam) still operating but there are several turbine ships .Classic one is the Edward Ryerson whose line are very flaired.
( see WWW.Boatnerd.com) for lakes news and info.
There is also articles about the Edmund Fitzgerald and there is always questions being asked on the info section. Hope the MODS don't mind me mentioning anyother site but it does not conflict.

Don Matheson
1st June 2008, 11:02
Lakercapt
Thanks for the information, very helpful. Never visited the lakes despite several attempts, but was introduced by accident to a friend whos dad was a captain with Unites States Steel ships. He told me a lot and opened a new world of shipping to me.
Great to get information from the horses mouth so to speak.
Strange that Algoma are having ships towed to China to be rebuilt, must be very very cheap there if you can have them towed that distance and still save money.
I use the Boatnerds site a lot, great information and some super photos. I know its a different site but it does not keep me away from here.
Don

Lksimcoe
2nd June 2008, 19:01
Lakercapt

From what I remember about the video taken of the wreck, didn't she break in 2? Could that have been why she sank, or did it break in 2 on the way down. I also seem to remember seeing missing hatch covers, but again don't know if that was what caused it, or if they came off when she went down.

Your insight is normally spot on, so your opinion would be appreciated.

Thanks

lakercapt
2nd June 2008, 20:26
Lakercapt

From what I remember about the video taken of the wreck, didn't she break in 2? Could that have been why she sank, or did it break in 2 on the way down. I also seem to remember seeing missing hatch covers, but again don't know if that was what caused it, or if they came off when she went down.

Your insight is normally spot on, so your opinion would be appreciated.

Thanks

Glad you think that of me.
It is my opinion (and others think so too) that she hit Superior shoal. This is a shoal that is at 26 feet at chart datum but would not normally pose a major problem. However with the very high seas that were running she could have grounded in a trough and not stuck but carried on for a while with severe bootom damage and suffered catastrophic hull failure shortly afetwards i.e. broken her back.
The hatches on a laker of her type are not as deep sea vessels but steel covers that are placed on top of the coamings and cliped on. I have seen in bad weather when the boat was working that these clips would spring off.
I would not speak ill of the dead but they should not have been out on the lake with these weather conditions and it proved to be a deadly descision.

Keckers
3rd June 2008, 17:42
Gordon Lightfoot had the original "hit" with this if I remember correctly.....

lakercapt
3rd June 2008, 19:51
Gordon Lightfoot had the original "hit" with this if I remember correctly.....

He also wrote the lyrics and tune

surfaceblow
4th June 2008, 14:12
Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
Music and lyrics 1976 by Gordon Lightfoot

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee."
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty,
that good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
when the "Gales of November" came early.

The ship was the pride of the American side
coming back from some mill in Wisconsin.
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
with a crew and good captain well seasoned,
concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
when they left fully loaded for Cleveland.
And later that night when the ship's bell rang,
could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
and a wave broke over the railing.
And ev'ry man knew, as the captain did too
'twas the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
when the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came the old cook came on deck sayin'.
"Fellas, it's too rough t'feed ya."
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in; he said,
"Fellas, it's bin good t'know ya!"
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
and the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when 'is lights went outta sight
came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
if they'd put fifteen more miles behind 'er.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
they may have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
in the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
the islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
with the Gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
in the "Maritime Sailors' Cathedral."
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call "Gitche Gumee."
"Superior," they said, "never gives up her dead
when the gales of November come early!"

Song: Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Jeffers
4th June 2008, 15:23
There's a link to the song in the first post of this thread.....

kewl dude
4th June 2008, 20:49
Picture of Edmund Fitzgerald hatch covers. I have no idea who took this picture but it is one of 21 Fitzgerald pictures I have on my computer.

Greg Hayden

kewl dude
4th June 2008, 21:20
This picture of the deck of the Middletown in port shows how Great Lakes Bulk Carrier deck hatches work. Again I have no idea who took this picture but it is one of 25 Middletown pictures I have on my computer. I did sail the Middletown relief circa about 1968.

You can see in this picture the hatches stacked one atop the other. Different ships have different deck layouts. The most common there was a space between each hatch where the cover was placed while working cargo. Less common like the Fitz, the hatches were closer together mostly but then a wider place where the hatch covers are stacked.

The hatch covers are handled with the Hatch Crane shown with the Middletown name stenciled on it. The hatch cranes run on rail road tracks mounted to the deck. Hatch cranes are electric powered. There is a reel on one side that takes up or lets out the electric cable, visible lying on the starboard side deck walkway.

The hatches are held in place with over center latches. There is a steel "wrench" about two feet long that is used to put the latches on or remove them. In the summer months of nice weather hatch covers are often held only with a latch on either side of each corner, then perhaps every third latch put in place. In the spring and fall when you may take seas on the deck every latch is used. There is a gasket attached to the underside of the hatch cover that is squeezed down when all the latches are put in place.

----

I grew up on the Great Lakes on the Shenango Furnace Company ships my Dad sailed. Then at age 19 I shipped out on the lakes and sailed six years in the Fclse. My first ship, Edmund W. Mudge had been built in 1911 and I was on her in 1960. She had a 1750 HP Triple Expansion steam engine powered by two Scotch Marine fire tube boilers with three furnaces in each. The Mudge was a hand fired coal burner. Meaning there were six fireman and three coalpassers. The vessel consumed 50 tons of coal in a twenty four hour period running on the lake. Which was just fine as long as the coal bunker was full enough to drop by gravity.

When the coal bunker got too low we Coal Passers had to go into the bunker with a LARGE wheelbarrow and fill it. Run it out on the fire room deck plates then dump it. In a twenty four hour period each of we three Coal Passers manually had to move 8-1/2 tons per four hour watch.

I sat for my Original Third Engineers license in March of 1966, then fit out and sailed the Joseph H Thompson 3 A/E until August when our MEBA union rep came aboard in Buffalo and waved the flag around and showed pictures of fully loaded ships anchored in San Francisco Bay unable to sail due to a lack of Engineers. So I quit the Thompson and began to ship deep sea. My first trip was on a WW II C4 Troop Ship converted to a bulk carrier hauling 16,000 tons of grain to Calicut India.

I continued to sail deep sea, but, when I was home in Duluth Minnesota the union would ship me summer relief on Great Lakers. In 1970 I moved to California and no longer sailed the lakes. I quit going to sea in 1976. Vietnam had ended and ships were going to the wall all over the place. I had been ashore sixteen months before my card came up and I got my last ship in 1976.

Greg Hayden

kewl dude
4th June 2008, 21:26
I have no idea where the Middletown picture went?

GEORDIE LAD
4th June 2008, 23:18
I saw the American Victory ex Middletown,going downbound through the Sault Locks.Still steaming after almost 66 years on the water...Doug

kevin morgan
8th August 2008, 07:51
My wife dragged me off to watch Batman-The dark knight , at the movies a couple of days ago , in one of the brief screens on "Gothams" wharfs was a ship that looked very similar (to me) of the Edmund Fitzgerald ?

robs audi
1st September 2008, 20:19
Gordon Lightfoot had the original "hit" with this if I remember correctly.....
gordon loghtfoots brother died on this vessal, thats why he wrote the song. we were in the same dock as her 2 weeks before she sank, i still remember a couple of the guys we met. i was on the queensgarth at the time. both ships loading or discharging iron ore.

K urgess
1st September 2008, 20:37
Where did you hear that Gordon Lightfoot's brother died on the Edmund Fitzgerald?
The crew list is here - http://www.ssefo.com/crew/index.html - and there's no Lightfoot listed.

omcgarry
1st September 2008, 21:30
Gordon Lightfoot ok ,one DJ on the good ship Mi Amigo home to Pirate Radio used to keep playing this track to irk me my motto was "don't tempt faith "and to this day everytime I hear that I think of the condition of that ship and wonder how it lasted

GEORDIE LAD
1st September 2008, 23:59
Sorry to disagree,but Gordon Lightfoots' brother,if he has one,was not a crew member of the Fitzgerald.The ship was US flagged with a US crew.Lightfoot is a Canadian......Doug

Locking Splice
2nd September 2008, 07:14
Morning All,

Quite correct Geordie Lad. Many of us on this site were around at the time and heard about it and probably discussed it many times in Shipboard conversation, I even learnt to play the song on my guitar but I never heard that one about Gordon Lightfoots brother.
Have just checked my old tattered copy of Frederick Stonehous's 1977 classic book "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", and there was no Lightfoot on the missing crew members list.

Only reference to Gordon Lightfoot is on page 200 " The Legend Lives on" The day after the wreck the Reverard R W Ingalls of Detroit's Mariners Church tolled the church bell 29 times, once for each crew member. The news media picked up on this and widely reported the solmon recognition of the tragedy. Canadian folk singer Grdon Lightfoot read one of the accounts and built it into the huanting ballard ""The Wreck of the Emund Fitzgerald".

Best Regards

Yuge

Coastie
2nd September 2008, 08:30
Where did you hear that Gordon Lightfoot's brother died on the Edmund Fitzgerald?
The crew list is here - http://www.ssefo.com/crew/index.html - and there's no Lightfoot listed.

Maybe he could be a Half Brother?

K urgess
2nd September 2008, 12:14
I've been a Lightfoot fan for about 40 years and as far as I know he was an only child, Chris.

Cheers
Kris

robs audi
2nd September 2008, 18:19
I've been a Lightfoot fan for about 40 years and as far as I know he was an only child, Chris.

Cheers
Kris
its beacuse his name isent, lightfoot. he took that sirname from a canadien indian he met in a bar in montreal? yes he was a only child, but his mother remarried and ran off with a frenceman, and had two other children. so gordons half brother.

K urgess
2nd September 2008, 19:13
Since his parents were called Lightfoot that seems a bit strange.
I'm sure he would have made good use of a half-brother lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald from a publicity point of view.
http://www.corfid.com/gl/biography.htm

GEORDIE LAD
2nd September 2008, 20:34
Kris,I remember when you could catch Gordon in the small clubs for the price of a beer.Now Bernie Fiedler is booking him into our concert hall which will sell out in a couple of days.He is well remembered and respected as a Canadian music icon....Doug

K urgess
2nd September 2008, 20:40
Still favourite, Doug.
Unfortunately I don't listen to his music often enough nowadays.
Any concerts over here are sold out before you even know they're on.
Cheers
Kris

Bruce Carson
2nd September 2008, 22:38
I guess he's mellowed.
Remember him ending his performance and walking off the stage in the '60s when he thought the coffee house crowd should have been more appreciative of this talents.
Spending money on an incomplete performance still rankles with me forty years later.

Bruce

Coastie
2nd September 2008, 23:25
I've got a cd of his hits. I first heard The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald back in about 1976 when I was scanning the Medium Wave on my old valve radio. I came across a Radio Station called WKBW in Buffalo New York and they were playing it just about every other song. With one of my first ever paypackets a year later, I went to Boots which had a record department upstairs and saw a WEA sampler triple album which had "The Wreck" on it! Ok, so I didn't know the other songs on there, but that was good enough for me! I paid 12.00 for that!

Ian J. Huckin
31st March 2009, 16:50
I was 2/E on one of Bolton's Temse Bulkers, Reynolds, with my wife and 3 month old son when the "Fitz" foundered. We were up-bound and had been hove to for over 24 hrs on Lake Erie due to extreme winds, blizzards and a very short and tall swell. When we moved on up we cleared Soo Locks and carried on up to Duluth. The weather was very poor, not much after many many N. Atlantic crossings but must have been tough on the Lakers with there flimsy scantlings. I remember being on the bridge when the "Fitz" went down though I'm not sure where in the lake system we were.

So, what happened? Here are some of the influences that no doubt had an impact on the final event:

1..Here load line had been altered at least once so she could carry more cargo
2..Loading Tacanite (sp) at Duluth on a berth capable of over 50,000 TPH into an older vessel without "Loadmaster" type computer systems could undoubtably have resulted in excessive BM and SF over time.
3..Seas were running at 24' at the time
4..Shoal reported at 26'
5.."Fitz" draft would have been about 19'

Put it all together and in my opinion she bottomed out, bilged instantly, and started breaking in two as she passed back into deep water. The fwd section is up-right and the aft section is upside down some distance away with a pile of tacanite in between.

Too quick for distress call, ship was pounding anyway so the grounding would not have been detected as such and the event probably covered a span of 30 seconds at the very most. So no distress calls and no attempt to abandon ship. Also, no bodies were recovered (remember "the Lake, it is said, never gives up her dead")

I seem to remember that signs of her anti-fouling were found on the reef but nothing was found on the aft section. Though that makes sense because if she grounded and took on water fwd then the stern draft would decrease.

I sailed the Lakes on six different Salties (Rossetti, Reynolds, Rubes, Nosira Lin, Nosira Sharon and Astart) for eight years. It is a VERY special place and requires special crews with a special set of skills. My hats off to regular Laker boys. Going through the Welland Ship canal makes Panama look very gay....booming three guys out so two could take the lines and one could meet the taxi delivering pre-ordered fresh donuts on a snowy November dawn...priceless.

I'm going to start a Great Lakes Thread I think, there is so much to talk about. See you there,

Ian

lakercapt
31st March 2009, 17:47
I erroneously mentioned in an earlier post that the "Friz" was a selfunloader when she was in fact a straight decker

lakercapt
31st March 2009, 18:00
[2..Loading Tacanite (sp) at Duluth on a berth capable of over 50,000 TPH into an older vessel without "Loadmaster" type computer systems could undoubtably have resulted in excessive BM and SF over time.
5.."Fitz" draft would have been about 19'


I sailed the Lakes on six different Salties (Rossetti, Reynolds, Rubes, Nosira Lin, Nosira Sharon and Astart) for eight years. It is a VERY special place and requires special crews with a special set of skills. My hats off to regular Laker boys. Going through the Welland Ship canal makes Panama look very gay....booming three guys out so two could take the lines and one could meet the taxi delivering pre-ordered fresh donuts on a snowy November dawn...priceless.

Ian[/QUOTE]

Ian thanks for the accolade as you are correct it is a special place where special skills are required.As an ex saltie I had a learning curve and many trips getting to know the system. Was a while before being accepted by the "Lake" fraternity
Transiting the Welland Canal 30+ times a season is bum puckering at times, but as laker crews know whats expected its easier than a "Saltie".
As you know the lakers do all their own pilotage.

The "Friz" would have been on her winter marks of about 26 feet.

They do load taconite pellets at a high rate but not 50,000 tons per hour. Think you got the coma in the wrong place as we loaded in about four hours if the ballast was out.(26,000 Tonnes)

Ian J. Huckin
1st April 2009, 20:17
Lakercapt,

It's this new support I am wearing....I stand corrected!!!

I knew we left lake head at about 19' draft but I guess that was to meet the draft requs. further down the system, I guessed it oooops!

That comma was in the wrong place. In another posting I was missing a comma so I obviously have a problem here.

Thanks mate, like I mentioned somewhere else, the best part of a forum is sharing our knowledge, or in my case, lack of it! (Thumb)

Best wishes...

Billy1963
7th May 2009, 10:43
Spent my 18th Birthday November 1981 on Lake Superior coming out of Duluth with the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald playing in the background.

Cangarda
20th October 2009, 16:11
Lightfoot wrote another shipwreck song "The Ballad of the Yarmouth Castle" about the rescue of the passengers off the burning Castle by Capt. Brown on The Bahama Star. It's on his album 'Sunday Concert'. I remember one line: "The paint she wore to keep her young. O Lord how well it burned"

I was mate in the R/V North Seal in 1972 when we once entered Miami with the same Capt. Brown as pilot. spc

Coastie
21st October 2009, 04:52
I have just read about the Yarmouth Castle incident, wow, that was a bad one.