July 9, 2011
The first time I saw the brochure for the Alpena Shipwreck Tour, I was staying at Harrisville State Park, about 30 miles away. I was immediately attracted to the idea of just being on that beautiful expanse of Lake Huron, much less getting the chance to view some of the underwater wreckage of ships like those I’d been reading about in the museums that so fascinated me at Tawas Point Lighthouse and Sturgeon Lighthouse. That combo was just too much to pass up!
Even though I had planned that as a day trip from Harrisville, I just never had the time. But it stayed on my mind and the allure was just too irresistible, so during my next stop at Hoeft State Park, I decided I just had to make it happen.
It was still an easy day trip and a great bonus for me was that a couple of my old RVing buddies from the RV Fulltiming Graduating Class of 2005 were close enough to come to Alpena to join me for the tour. I had seen them all too briefly when I was at Tawas, but before that, not since the Quartzsite Rally in January, 2006, so this was lagniappe for sure!
Being welcomed aboard by the captain and cute crew – I could already tell this was going to be a fun trip!
Alright, Ken & Sandy, duck – we’re on our way!
It was an absolutely perfect day weather-wise – the water was amazing and the skies were that perfect shade of blue with just the right amount and kind of clouds to make it interesting. It was also the greatest fun to have friends to laugh and joke with. We decided Sandy would be my photographer and Ken was security and maintenance. I have a crew now – LOL!
Sometimes it was hard to want to go inside, but here’s where the glass bottom panels are to see what we’re passing over.
Here’s a collage I put together of the best shots both me and Sandy could get, but neither of us are professional photographers with expensive cameras, so they’re certainly not the best representation of what you see as they hover over the wreck areas.
Sandy and Ken are divers, so they knew how much clearer they could see if they could dive the wrecks, but for we folks who aren’t certified and not at all comfortable with breathing underwater no matter what the apparatus you have, being able to see them this way is our only option, and a good one for that.
Before heading back, we had great timing and the captain gave us the chance to get this close to the gigantic freighter docked at the concrete plant. The Alpena was launched in 1942 as the Leon Fraser for US Steel. In 1991 she was renamed the Alpena after having been shortened 120′ and converted to carry cement. She’s still a whopping 519’06” long and can carry 13,900 tons!
Almost home, I felt especially safe with the Coast Guard so closeby!
Back on dry land, don’t miss the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center – lots of very interesting displays and even a re-creation of part of a ship where you can get a glimpse of what it feels like to live onboard, with some of the sights, sounds, lightening storms, and even loss of equilibrium due to the sloping floors and effects.
So it was a great day with good friends and fair seas – can’t beat that for a Pure Michigan kinda day!