Participants: Tim Pranke (Captain and Project Leader), Jack Decker (Project Co-Leader), Kathy Meek, Pete McConnell (Corey Daniel was signed up, but was unable to make the trip.)
This is a continuing project for the GLSPS. The boiler had been salvaged from the wreck in the 1950s, then returned to the wreckage site in 2001, aided by members of the GLSPS. Starting in 2016, the GLSPS has sponsored 7 expeditions to the Pretoria. After the boiler’s return to the wreck, waves and currents were moving it away from the site. If it continued moving away from the wreckage, it would be lost and not seen in its context with the wreckage. During our first several Projects, we located the boiler, returned it to the wreck site and then secured it to the bedrock, preventing it from moving away again. On subsequent Projects, we have discovered additional missing wreckage, most notably a large section of the port hull with the rudder resting on it and a piece of machinery we believe to be part of the power steering mechanism.
This year, our plans were to monitor the boiler’s securement, review the wreck for noticeable changes to its general condition, and use sonar to search for any missing wreckage. We would leave Silver Bay Marina on Thursday, August 11, and return on Monday, August 15.
We departed Silver Bay Marina Thursday morning, on calm seas and clear skies, heading Easterly towards Outer Island intending to get a dive in before docking for the night at Outer Island Lighthouse. We wanted to use the sonar to search for more wreckage if waves were light enough. Conditions were too wavy for accurate sonar work.
We went to the Pretoria, anchoring on the boiler. On our dives that afternoon, we checked the boiler’s tie downs and verified they were holding rather well. The hull section by the boiler and the main wreck looked unchanged. A line was run between the boiler wreckage and the main wreckage for easier navigating of the wreck.
Thursday night at the Outer Island dock, we had supper and reviewed the lighthouse and its buildings. A full moon presented itself and Tim pulled out a telescope to view it. Beautiful scenery and great companions made for a wonderful evening!
Friday, we were able to again moor on the boiler. On one of the dives, we found a winch about 40 ft off midships of the starboard hull.
Saturday, the waves were too high for diving safely, so we explored the island. We hiked to the logging camp, approximately 2 miles away. Seeing the various vehicle hulks and cabins in ruin was interesting. Fun to imagine life on the island. We had lunch on the rocky shoreline, admiring the geology of Lake Superior.
Sunday, we were able to get back to diving on the Pretoria. We dove on the rudder section we discovered two years ago. The rudder is still huge and impressive!
Monday, August 15, we left for home with a stop at Devil’s Island to dive the caves on the Island’s Northwest shoreline. Again, the geology of the Great Lake is spectacular.
All told, we had 922 minutes of dive time on the wreck. The boiler is still secured to the wreck site. reviewing our previous work of securing the boiler and reviewing the wreck. The weather was wonderfully dry and relatively calm, allowing us to dock each night at Outer Island for the first time in our 7 trips to the Pretoria.
Dive time (minutes):
Kathy, Tim, Pete and Jack
42 42 40 40
52 52 42 36
50 50 -- 47
42 -- -- 41
43 43 45 45
45 45 40 40
274 232 167 249
Total dive time on Pretoria: 922 minutes
45 -- 45 45
Thank you to all the participated in the project. We hope you are able to join us again for this and many other projects in the future.