New Projects

Books

The Last Laker – Finding the the Deadliest Storm’s Last Shipwreck. While the book covers the storm as a whole, including lower lakes losses in Huron, Michigan and Erie, it closely examines the twin dramas of the HENRY B. SMITH and L. C. WALDO. The SMITH is the last laker of the ones lost in the storm to be discovered.

I originally had no intention of writing a Storm of 1913 book. Even though the centennial was coming up I saw no compelling reason to rehash essentially old material. The storm was well documented with several fine books covering the entire event and a large number various publications closely examining individual wrecks. The Storm  was a tale well told. Then several things happened.

On May 24, 1913 the last of the storm lost lakers, the 525-foot HENRY B. SMITH was discovered by a team of dedicated shipwreck hunters. The electrifying find made national news. Of all the 1913 losses the SMITH was my favorite. She left the least clues as to her loss and her complete disappearance is to my view, the most inexplicable. I also consider her the most sought after wreck. At various times a number of private search efforts failed to find her as did the U.S. Navy on two occasions. From this viewpoint she could be called the “ghost ship” of the storm; she is the “gold” of all the ships lost.

When I thought about the wreck’s location and considered it in relation to that of the steamer L.C. WALDO and the heroic effort of the Life-Saving Service to save the latter’s crew, I realized there was a tantalizing, “what might have been” scenario too. This is a different way of tying two compelling stories together.

I also noticed the Storm of 1913 books that were published during the centennial either only mentioned the SMITH discovery in passing or dependent on printing date, not at all. Their omission was one I could correct.

The more I examined the SMITH wreck and the video of her remains I realized the eerie similarities to the wreck of the CYPRUS lost in 1907 and to a lesser level, the HENRY STEINBRENNER in 1953. I saw a linkage that should be further explored and explained. Oddly enough after locating the SMITH the team moved to the eastern part of Lake Superior to check out other process identified targets. One of them turned out to be the CYPRUS. Although she was found in 2007 the latitude/longitude numbers were never released so in effect she was discovered for a second first time by the SMITH team. A fascinating coincidence!

Lastly the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the centennial pushed all the available weather data for the storm through a simulation program producing a far more complete understanding of wind and wave conditions as the “weather monster” played out. This too was not included in any of the 1913 books. Incorporating this information into the story would provide a different and important perspective.

All this considered I decided it was worthwhile to write this book.

 

Fitz Cover 40thSpecial 40th Edition, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Unbelievably for those of use who remember the night the Fitz went down 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the wreck. This special edition brings the story up to date including theories and pictures. It is a must for serious Great Lakes buffs. The book is due out in the spring of 2015 and published by Avery Color Studios. http://www.averycolorstudios.com/

 

Gold Medal Rescues, True Tales of Heroic Rescues by the U.S. Life-Saving Service – Throughout the 44-year history of the old U.S. Life-Saving Service, 16 crews were awarded the Gold Life-Saving medal for heroic rescues against overwhelming odds. The medal is extremely rare. From 1874 to 1971, 566 Gold Medals were awarded compared to 3,408 Medals of Honor during the same period. Gold Medal Rescues tells the dramatic story of the Storm Warrior’s courage and guts. It is the ultimate sea rescue adventure book. The Life-Saving Service lived by the motto, “Regulations say we have to go out. They say nothing about coming back.” I am deep in research and writing. My commitment to the old Life-Saving Service is profound. Of all the writing and research I do, that relating to the USLSS is easily the most personally rewarding (although the least financially remunerative). No release date or publisher has been determined.

 

Haunted Lake Erie – This is a continuation in theme of the Haunted Lakes series. Haunted Lake Michigan was released in October 2006 and Haunted Lake Huron in June 2007. The release date for Haunted Lake Erie is undetermined.

 

Lost on Lake Superior – Over 500 ships wrecked on the big lake. Some like the EDMUND FITZGERALD are well known. Others, the S.R. KIRBY, WILLIAM C. MORELAND, TIOGA, COMRADE, Barge No. 129 among others, are far less famous but in their own way, just as fascinating. Lost on Superior takes a close look at these less notorious shipwrecks. The publisher and release date are undetermined.

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maritime Historian, Author, Lecturer