Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve – Northern Section
Unique among Michigan’s Underwater Preserves, Thunder Bay is home to both a National Marine Sanctuary and an Underwater Preserve. As such, it benefits from joint NOAA and State management. It is significant as the first Great Lakes national marine sanctuary. The Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve has been greatly enlarged by federal and state authorities, and now stretches from the northern Presque Isle county line to the southern Alcona county line and extends from the shore to the international boundary in Lake Huron.
This page will give you information about sites in the northern section of the Sanctuary, from northern Lake Huron’s Spectacle Reef area, west to Bois Blanc Island and the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve, and southward past Rogers City and Presque Isle, to the original northern Sanctuary/Preserve boundary.
For more information on things to do and see in the area of the Sanctuary and Preserve, consult the websites for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Alpena Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Alpena Chamber of Commerce.
Shipwrecks & Dive Sites
|Wreck Name & Year Lost||Depth||GPS/LAT/LON|
|Albany (1853)||5′||N 45° 19.937 W 083° 27.502|
|American Union (1894)||10′||N 45° 21.412 W 083° 35.368|
|John J. Audubon (1854)||170′||N 45° 17.348 W 083° 20.381|
|D.N. Barney (1849)||35′||N 45° 03.369 W 084° 06.000|
|F.T. Barney (1868)||160′||N 45° 29.139 W 083° 50.563|
|Duncan City (1923)||15′||N 45° 24.787 W 083° 45.733|
|Chester B. Jones (1924)||16′||N 45° 24.620 W 083° 45.986|
|W.G. Mason (1924)||13′||N 45° 24.639 W 083° 44.833|
|Cornelia Windiate (1875)||180′||N 45° 19.526 W 083° 13.106|
|Defiance (1854)||185′||N 45° 14.058 W 083° 16.707|
|Joseph S. Fay (1905)||17′||N 45° 29.317 W 083° 54.600|
|James R. Bentley (1878)||150′||N 45° 41.321 W 084° 09.316|
|Persian (1868)||168′||N 45° 41.961 W 084° 09.174|
|Newell A. Eddy (1893)||168′||N 45° 46.885 W 084° 13.817|
|Kyle Spangler (1860)||150′||N 45° 23.011 W 083° 26.115|
|Norman (1895)||210′||N 45°18.694 W 083° 16.737|
|Florida (1897)||206′||N 45° 17.781 W 083° 17.011|
|Typo (1899)||195′||N 45° 17.497 W 083° 18.964|
|Henry Johnson (1902)||160′||N 45° 38.018 W 084° 06.275|
|Anna Smith (1899)||16′||N 45° 39.655 W 084° 18.557|
|Syracuse (1863)||60′||N 45° 38.252 W 084° 12.184|
|Racer (1869)||11′||N 45° 34.900 W 084° 08.919|
|Northwestern||135′||N 45° 26.885 W 083° 41.817|
|L.M. Mason (1861)||18′||N 45° 20.784 W 083° 29.613|
|Malabar 6 (1991)||135′||N 45° 18.849 W 083° 24.381|
|Portland (1877)||6′||N 45° 14.929 W 083° 24.450|
Some of the more interesting shipwreck dives in and near the northern section of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve are:
John J. Audubon
The Audubon was lost in a collision the same year she was launched – 1854. Today she sits upright outside recreational dive limits in about 161 feet of water. Her deck can be reached at 145 feet. This two masted brig lies with her hull still intact. Her masts are snapped and lie across the deck. Her cargo of railroad iron rails is scattered on and off the wreck and also inside the hull. Divers will see her wheel, windlass and both anchors in addition to the small minutiae of daily life aboard a sailing ship like pottery and china. Her holds can be penetrated but caution should be exercised at this depth.
Cornelia B. Windiate
The schooner Windiate, named for the owner’s daughter, was making a late-season trip with grain from Milwaukee to Buffalo. She never arrived, and was long believed to have foundered in northern Lake Michigan as she was not seen by the ship-reporter service at Mackinaw City. Everyone was surprised when she was located off Presque Isle in 1986, and the mystery deepened when she was found to be nearly intact. It is now believed that she became overloaded with icy spray until she started filling with water, then the buoyancy of the ice then slowed her descent to the bottom. Her masts still stand and her cabins are intact, evidence that she sank slowly and gently. Her yaw-boat sits on the bottom, evidence that her crew was unable to get away. This is one of the most intact wrecks on the lakes today, a special treat for tech divers.
The canal schooner Kyle Spangler is another of the largely-intact deep-water wrecks off Presque Isle Point. Her two masts still stand proudly, her anchors hang off the bow, and her cabins and other gear sit in their proper places, with only her damaged bow showing where she collided with the schooner Racine in November 1860, taking her cargo of wheat down 180-ft to the bottom.
Newell A. Eddy
The Eddy was a large schooner barge owned by the Eddy Brothers of Bay City. She was in tow of the steamer Charles A. Eddy headed to Buffalo NY with grain when they encountered a strong spring storm in 1893. The Charles Eddy was forced to release her when her steering chains failed, ,and the Newell Eddy was cut loose and not seen again. Her transom washed ashore on Bois Blanc Island, but the schooner was not discovered until 1992 when a University of Michigan research vessel decided to test a new side-scan system while in transit from Cheboygan to the St. Mary’s River. The vessel sits upright in 170-ft with all 3 masts still standing, with the gaffs and booms strewn on her deck. The hatch covers are off, and the transom is missing, while her anchor chain is stretched out off her bow, evidence that her crew tried to hold her in shallow water after she struck Raynold’s Reef, but could not hold her position on the steep slope. This is a popular dive site for tech divers.
Joseph S. Fay
The Fay was towing her barge, the D.P. Rhodes, from Escanaba to Cleveland, both loaded with iron ore when they ran into a strong storm that sent waves over the decks. The barge was released, but the Fay still struggled until her crew abandoned her in the yawl-boat. The wreck grounded directly off Forty-Mile Point Lighthouse, with some sections of hull washing right up onto shore. Her engine bed and propeller shaft remain in 19-ft of water a few hundred yards offshore, making for a great shore dive/snorkel, with easy access from the lighthouse grounds.
A wooden steamer that grounded off Cordwood Point below Cheboygan, the Smith burned to the waterline while awaiting salvage. She is another good shore dive, with boilers and bottom timbers spread up and down the shoreline several hundred yards offshore.
The 2-masted schooner Mason was one of 14 vessels stranded the Presque Isle’s North Bay in a fierce October storm. All the other ships were eventually freed, but the Mason remained to be broken down by wind, waves, and ice. Her remains sit in 18 ft of water close to shore, a perfect site for kayaks and snorkelers.
For more information on these and other Thunder Bay sites, check out the Sanctuary shipwreck pages here.