Minnedosa - Harbor Beach area
Depth 190 to 210 ft/ Length 245 ft/ 4-masted schooner/ Sunk with all 8 hands on October 20, 1905
250 ft long Minnedosa was the largest four-masted schooner barge ever built in Canadian shipyards. Constructed in Kingston, Ontario, in 1890, Minnedosa was one of those schooner barges that was built for explicit purpose of being towed behind the steam powered propellers. Those were the early days of steam engine driven vessels and the owners of those early steamers figured out that they could add up to 5-6 schooner-barges strung behind a single steamer and carry much more cargo. This trade proved to be so profitable that the newer schooners like Minnedosa were not expected to ever sail under their own power. They did carry a basic sail rigging in order to be able to put up sails in case they got separated from their tow.
Minnedosa met her fate in October 1905 having lost her battle with late fall storm. At the time of her sinking Minnedosa was towed by propeller Westmount downbound on Lake Huron. Similarly to Westmount and the other barge in the consort, Mitzec, Minnedosa was severely overloaded with the load of grain. Unlike the other two, Minnedosa's hull could not withstand the attacks of the violent Huron waves and she went down suddenly and with all hands. Making the story even more tragic is the fact that the wife of the captain was on board as well, having joined her husband on what looked to be the closing voyage of 1905 season.
I first read the story of Minnedosa few years ago when I was just transitioning into technical side of diving. Once I finished reading the story, I knew I had to dive that wreck. It took couple years before I was ready, and Minnedosa was certainly worth the wait.
She is intact and upright with bottom at about 210 ft and the deck at about 190ft. The stern had so many interesting features that we spent two whole dives there. Due to the weather the next day, we never made it to the bow, so the pictures below are just of the stern part.
The wheel was definitely main highlight of that wreck for me. When I first glimpsed the sight of it, I had to hover there for a while just to convince myself that it was indeed THAT HUGE. I never seen anything even remotely close to this size underwater (the wheel taken from Vienna and on display in Whitefish museum was also quite large). Not only the wheel was still there, standing proudly upright, but the steering mechanism was in place as well.
Right next the the wheel was the stern cabin with various artifacts from inside the wreck brought up by thoughtful divers for others to see. The artifacts included couple of portholes, hurricane lamp, as well as the taft rail torpedo - a device for measuring the speed of the vessel.
The yawl boat got detached from the wreck during sinking and settled on the bottom very close to the port side. Similar to the wheel, it is also very sizeable. For some reasons, the visibility right at the yawl boat was worse that on the wreck itself. Going from yawl boat up, one can notice the interesting shape of the stern
Other highlights include the davit at the stern rail, masts fallen all over the wreck, some with complete crossnests and places where the topsail yard attached to it. There were also several capstans, bilge pump and various rigging parts. And there are almost no zebra mussels!
Hazards are depth, cold and darkness