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 Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society

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"From Prevention to Preservation"

News Stories

2016 - Madeira and Hesper - Closing Report

Corey Daniel | Published on 7/24/2016
Closing Report:

The project weekend started early Saturday morning with the gathering of boat operator Steve Daniel, project leader Corey Daniel and experienced diver volunteers John Nousaine, Tom Peterson, and Jim Christenson. The "Preservation" was loaded up with gear, "Madeira" pieces and a new bow mooring buoy with new line and chain. Skies were mostly clear with a light wind from the North, Northeast creating some chop on the lake.

Our first goal was to return nine pieces of twisted and torn metal from the wreck of "Madeira" to a spot in Little Two Harbors Bay just south of Splitrock Lighthouse. Once a good location was determined by Steve Daniel(PIB project leader) the pieces were dropped into the lake one at a time. Tom Peterson and Corey Daniel then dove in to gather the pieces and arrange them at one spot. Pictures were taken and the divers returned to the boat.

Everyone on board enjoyed the view of the lighthouse as we cruised past to our next objective, dive the "Madiera" wreck. First on the list was to install the new bow buoy, prepared with new line and chain by Jay Hanson. The wind had picked up some so the "Preservation" was secured to the stern buoy. Shortly after John Nousaine, Tom Peterson and Corey Daniel dove in and with new buoy in tow swam to the bow. Corey installed the new line and chain with the assistance of John while Tom took pictures. The old chain and line were removed and after being placed onboard the "Preservation", the "Madiera" monitoring project began.

Jim Christenson and Steve Daniel dove second shift upon the return of the first group. Steve took pictures while Jim sought out any changes in the wreck. All the divers enjoyed two great dives even though the visibility was less than typical due to lots of rain this season. The pilot house appears to continue creeping closer to the rock slope and with a lot more sand removed this year, there is more metal exposed around it. The wreckage of the midsection appeared unchanged and still impressive as you make your way up the slope after rounding the corner at the smoke stack. A precarious piece of steel hanging from the port side of the stern section of the hull located in the swim thru area appears to be the same and no worse. This piece is a large sheet at the top of the swim thru towards the hill side, not over the usual route divers take through that area. Next year plans should be made to safely remove it. One last observation made was that of the position of the porthole located under the fantail of the stern. Last year it appeared that both the metal around the porthole and the porthole itself were being pushed up at an angle. This year the metal around the window was flat but the porthole itself was being pushed up. Currents and storms move the sand around which could affect the position of this piece or is the stern shifting?

Sunday brought clear skies, sunshine and wind again to put a little chop on the lake. First task of the day was to install the buoy on the "Hesper" wreck . Jay Hanson has been doing a great job of replacing the lines and chains of the buoys for the "Madiera" and "Hesper" wrecks with a new set up. The line from the wreck is kept taught with a subsurface float. From the float to the buoy is a chain that acts as a shock absorber to waves. The mooring line is still attached to the bottom of the buoy. Corey installed the new buoy system with Tom assisting and taking pictures. Upon completion the two divers were joined by John, who brought down Jerry Eliason's digital camera, installed in a custom case to hold below a diver for creating photo mosaics of shipwrecks. Jerry had previously started this project with other divers and asked Corey if the task could be completed during the monitoring project. John took first shift and Jim took second round while diving with Steve. Everyone had a great dive and no new changes to the wreck were observed.

The "Hesper" stays intact due to its location has a lot of protection in many directions. The bilge pump was still upright and the capstan still exposed. The rudder retains its impressiveness and it is always fun trying to spot something new in the bow area. The "Hesper" wreck has a lot to offer divers with an inside look of how wooden ships used to be built. It's depth offers long dives, even though they maybe chilly at times. The wreck can be accessed from shore or boat and with little deterioration observed, I believe this wreck will be around for a long time. Next year's goal will be to dive around Pellet Island and document and photograph any pieces of the wreck found.

I want to thank everyone who volunteered, worked hard, and had a lot of fun diving the wrecks of the "Madiera" and "Hesper". I appreciate everyone's time and input.