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Lake Erie

John J. Boland

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Depth 95-140ft/ Length 253 ft/ steel propeller/ Launched 1928 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England/ Lost October 5, 1932

Not too many shipwrecks can lay a claim that their demise changed shipping regulations forever, but Boland is one of those that can.

253 ft long, steel steamer John J. Boland stated her life named Tyneville.  She was built in 1928 in England in Newcastle-on-Tyne and was subsequently acquired by Sarnia Steamship Company and promptly renamed John J. Boland.  Having made an uneventful Atlantic crossing she settled into her new life as a Great Lake ship hauling grain and other bulk loads between ports on Lakes Ontario, Erie and the St. Lawrence River.

On the day of her sinking, she was en route from Erie, Pa to Hamilton Ontario. The trip between Erie and Hamilton was considered routine and Boland was loaded to the brim and then some. Her holds were overloaded so much that a few were left opened with excess coal piled on top of them.

Unfortunately for Boland, a storm was brewing along her route and soon she was in the middle of it. With 40 miles per hours wind, the waves were building high, and soon the water entered the opened hatches. The crew tried to run for shore, but did not make it as Boland flipped over and sunk in a under 5 minutes, 10 miles from Barcelona, NY. 15 out of her crew of 19 made it to shore.

The regulations allowing open hatch sailing were soon changed Boland was the last vessel to ever sail with her hatches opened.

Boland landed on a lake bottom 135 ft below, almost upside down but not quite as the port side is above the lake bad sufficiently to allow the view of the remains of the pilothouse upfront, structures at the back and access to the cargo holds. Other items of interest include the giant propeller and an even bigger rudder.  Very interesting wreck with lots to see on the outside.

Bow and the remains of the cabin. There was an open door practically inviting one to go in, but I would not fit with my big rebreather and stages, so I managed to lower the camera down and snap one shot.

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Cargo holds were wide open, swimmable through and local residents came to pose for pictures.

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Access to engine room is posible as well, but narrow and silty, so I got half way and pushed my camera inside:

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Stern was as interesting as bow if not more. Lifeboat davits formed interesting buoyancy challenges, the remains of the stern structure were interesting to examine and the giant prop and even bigger rudder were a highlight of that dive.

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