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Lake Huron

Cornelia B. Windiate - Alpena/Presque Isle area

Depth 165 to 190 ft/ Length 138 ft/ 3-masted schooner - ALL MASTS STILL STANDING/ Lost in 1857

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Windiate was a three-masted schooner with the dimensions designed to fit into the locks of second Welland canal – she was just 136 ft long and 26 ft wide. She was only 2 years old when she failed to make an appearance at her final destination on her last run of the season between Chicago and Buffalo and was given up for lost. Since no records existed of Windiate passing through the Straits of Mackinac, she was thought to be lost in Lake Michigan for almost 100 years until she was discovered in almost 200 ft of water in Lake Huron’s famous “schooner valley” stretching few miles offshore between Rogers City and Alpena, Michigan.

Today, Windiate is one of the most beautiful diveable wrecks in the Great Lakes and that beauty is rivaled by her intactness. She is sitting uptight with the bottom in 190 ft of water and deck at about 165ft. Descending to the wreck, the first thing that comes into the view at about 130 ft depth is a foremast with the crosstree still there. Few feet below crosstrees, is an item that makes this wreck absolutely unique – a yardarm for a square rigged sail attached perpendicular to the mast. Remains of rigging are still attached to the mast and cascade to the deck below

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On an exceptional visibility day, a visiting diver might see all 3 masts and most of the wreck. June 7, 2008 was such day. First shot shows 3 masts visible from amidships vantage point and second shot is from the stern. Forward mast and cross tree are barely visible as faint silhuette. The last shot also shows the lifeboat off the starboard side.

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The bowsprit is broken right at the point where it was attached to the bow, likely during sinking, and that is pretty much the only part of the wreck that is not pristinely intact. Both large wood-stocked anchors are still resting in their stowing places. Interestingly, there is a chain that is attached to the windlass, but then runs alongside the wreck in couple long loops – was that a standard operating procedure before deploying the anchors?

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Moving further aft, you would pass the bottoms of the fore and main masts, capstan and the centerboard winch. The masts all still have intact D-shaped fife rails and lots and lots of mast hoops and belaying pins

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Windiate carried cargo of wheat on her final voyage, but the cargo is hard to see since all cargo openings are still covered by intact hatch covers. The tops of the masts, the cross trees for main and mizzen mast lay all over the deck. The intact railing runs along both sides of the ship with deadeyes and various blocks still in place.

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Aft of the main mast, the intact cabin slowly comes into view. The forward facing doors and windows are gone, but the side windows on the port side still have sliding window covers as well as metal bars. Last mast comes out of the top of the cabin. On the port side right on the side of the cabin is the reason why this wreck was so easy to identify – the full name is still visible on the top of the outside. In the pictures below, the name is on the side in the zebra mussels clear area

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At the stern, the steering mechanism was tilted severely resulting in the wheel being almost horizontal to the deck level.

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On the starboard side at the stern and near the bottom is amazingly intact yawl boat. On a good visibility day, one can look back towards the stern and see the elegant transom and the rudder turned at 90 degree angle. The transom also sports some decorative stars

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