West Michigan Underwater Preserve

North Shore Shipwreck [Photo by Todd White]

West Michigan Underwater Preserve

The West Michigan Underwater Preserve extends along the western shore of Lake Michigan from the northern boundary of the Southwest Michigan Underwater Preserve to a point near Pentwater on the north. Its waters adjoin the lakeshore communities of Grand Haven, Muskegon, Whitehall and Pentwater.

The Preserve is home to several ships lost in storms on Lake Michigan. The shoreline is similar to the Southwest Preserve in that there are limited safe harbors and the area was and remains the home of active shipping traffic. Consequently, many ships foundered before they could reach safety.

Local divers buoy some of the wrecks in the area. However, divers should be prepared to locate shipwrecks they plan to dive.

The West Michigan Preserve is also home to the Hamilton Reef, also known as “The Rock Pile” near Muskegon. It is a snake-like formation of broken cement rubble just south of the Muskegon Channel in about 30 feet of water. It provides a home for interesting game fish. Near Port Sheldon, divers frequent the “bubbler” near the piping for the Port Sheldon power plant. It too provides a home for game fish. Divers also salvage anchors and other artifacts left by fishermen and boaters.

The communities bordering the Preserve house many museums of interest to divers. Muskegon is home to the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum that includes the WWII submarine Silversides and 125 foot WWII era Coast Guard cutter the USCGC McLane. Muskegon also has a WWII LST open for tours. The region has many summer time festivals and events like the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival, Muskegon Summer Celebration and Rothbury Music Festival.

For more information on the Preserve, visit the website for the West Michigan Underwater Preserve. For more activities and events in the region, consult the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, Grand Haven Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Grand Haven Chamber of Commerce.

Shipwrecks & Dive Sites

Wreck Name & Year Lost Depth GPS/LAT/LON
Brightie (1928) 75′ N 43° 29.898 W 086° 29.890
Commanche 90′ N 43° 50.253 W 086° 29.023
Crane Barge – Muskegon (1949) 25′ N 43° 11.742 W 086° 20.737
Daisy Day  (1891) 10′ N 43° 31.670 W 086° 29.282
George F. Foster (1870) ashore N 44° 02.588 W 086° 30.800
William B. Davock bow (1940) 215′ to 240′ N 43° 40.963 W 086° 37.402
William B. Davock stern (1940) 215′ to 240′ N 43° 40.089 W 086° 36.540
Hamilton Reef 30′ N 43° 12.99 W 086° 20.49
Helen (1886) 10′ N 43° 15.003 W 086° 21.152
Henry Cort (1934) 15′ N 43° 13.630 W 086° 20.737
Interlaken (1934) 15′ N 43° 27.056 W 086° 27.495
Ironsides (1873) 120′ N 43° 02.898 W 086° 19.150
Manistee (1914) 25′ N 43° 04.867 W 086° 12.168
Anna C. Minch bow (1940) 36′ to 45′ N 43° 45.784 W 086° 27.776
Anna C. Minch stern (1940) 36′ to 45′ N 43° 45.700′ W 086° 27.840
Novadoc (1940) 12′ to 15′ N 43° 41.801 W 086° 30.954
Pizzazz  (2008) 12′ to 15′ N 43° 38.526 W 086° 33.763
State of Michigan (1901) 75′ N 43° 23.335 W 086° 27.851
Salvor (1930) 35′ N 43° 15.615 W 086° 22.119
T.S. Christie (1933) 25′ N 43° 18.366 W 086° 18.393
Big Sable Drop-off to 120′ N 44° 03.566 W 086° 31.137
Clay Wall – White Lake 50′ N 43° 23.205 W 086° 27.036
Hamilton Reef – Muskegon 30′ N 43° 12.990 W 086° 20.490

Among the best shipwreck dives in or near the West Michigan Underwater Preserve are:

Ironsides

The Ironsides was a very sturdy vessel built in 1864 to haul iron ore on Lake Superior during the Civil War. She had twin engines and her 231 foot length was braced by dual “hogging” arches on her sides. The demand for ore declined after the Civil War and she was converted to use as a freight and passenger vessel. On September 15, 1873 she was carrying a general freight cargo when she foundered off Grand Haven in about 120 feet of water. This can be a challenging dive because of depth, limited visibility and accumulated fishing tackle. The wreck has begun to settle and collapse into the sand. Still, the engines and some of the hull provide an interesting dive for qualified divers.

Anna C. Minch

This 380 foot steel bulk freighter was lost in the notorious “Armistice Day” storm of November 11, 1940. She now lies broken into two parts in about 36 to 45 feet of water near Pentwater.

State of Michigan

The State of Michigan is believed to have foundered after losing power when a piston rod was thrown. Built in 1875, she was a 165 foot wooden passenger and package freight steamer. She sank on October 18, 1901. Her boiler and outer hull are exposed for divers to inspect in 60 to 75 feet of water off Whitehall.

Salvor

Built in 1896 in England, the Salvor was a 253 foot wooden pseudo-whaleback steamer converted to a steel bulk freight barge. She foundered in a storm on September 26, 1930, between Muskegon and Whitehall. The hull with her cargo of stone now rests in 25 to 30 feet of water. Sand covers the midsection of the hull.

Brightie

A classic lumber schooner-barge, the Brightie was 182 feet long. She was built in 1868 and was lost in August 1928 when she foundered carrying a load of pulpwood. Her cargo and broken remains are in about 70 feet of water north of Whitehall.

Novadoc

This 252 foot steel bulk freighter was built in 1928 in England. The “Armistice Day” storm of 1940 claimed her as well as the Minch. Her broken remains now lie in 12 to 15 feet of water off Pentwater.

Henry Cort

The Henry Cort was a 320 foot whaleback built in 1892. She stranded at the entrance to Muskegon Harbor on November 30, 1934. Her wreckage is broken and twisted lying in about 15 feet of water next to the north break-wall of the Muskegon Channel.