Reading up on the Big Fitz Edmund Fitzgerald

May 3, 2002
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dear all,

When I started this thread I simply inquired about reading material on the Big Fitz. Instead I precipitated a deluge of discussion and debate.
In short I have recieved much more than I bargained for. I live on the other side of the planet: at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean...see my profile, and thus the Great Lakes is a place I know of only through maps and some photos. I have learned much here from you all but I must single out those of you with sea experience,
Erik in particular who can give answer to more technical turns of questioning. Thanks to you all and keep going.

Thanks again

Martin.

P.S. yes Erik, Gordon Lightfoot's song is the first I ever heard of that ship and it still makes my spine crawl. He is very good with his words and music. no chance of any irish blood in him?
happy.gif
 

Erik Wood

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Boatnerd.com is reporting that Venture Films of London, met in Port Huron, MI with several former Great Lakes Captains and a young chap with a gripping screenplay about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The company is trying to determine how and if such a film should be made about the loss of the ship. This is the second time that this young lad has attempted to get a movie made regarding the Fitzgerald it would be the one and only. There are several plays and a musical already out there.
 
May 3, 2002
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The Boatnerd report is as follows...

Filmmaker mull Fitzgerald movie
09/11
Producers from Venture Films of London met earlier this week in Port Huron to explore the possibility of filming a movie about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Duluth News Tribune reported Wednesday that producers from Venture Films met with screenwriter Chris Chabot and several former Great Lakes captains at Cap'n Jim's Gallery in Port Huron, the gallery and Chabot announced Tuesday.
The Fitzgerald sank with the loss of its 29-man crew during a storm on Lake Superior in November 1975. In 1994 a submersible was used to shoot video footage of the wreck. Marine artist Jim Clary used the footage to create seven panoramic views of the wreck.
This is the second time that Clary has attempted to organize a film, in the mid 1990's plans for a film were announced but the movie was never made.
Reported by: Rob Kennedy

relayed by Martin
 
Dec 4, 2000
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I know for a fact that the Discovery Channel is working on a new documentary about the entire subject of Great Lakes shipwrecks. Next Wednesday I will be meeting the producer of this series to discuss possible topics.

-- David G. Brown
 
May 3, 2002
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I have finally acquired a copy of GALES OF NOVEMBER. It arrived this morning and I am very impressed with it. Robert Heming is up front about his approach when describing a voyage from which no one returned. The technique was used by film maker Wolfgang Petersen in his film PERFECT STORM.

I couldn't resist the temptation to first read his recreation of the final minutes and my reaction was audible and unrepeatable in this forum. With that I went to the beginning and began reading. If they make a film of that it will be worse than PERFECT STORM.

Thanks again to Erik and Tracey for their initial recommendation and to all of you for the subsequent messages in this thread. It will not be the last book I buy about this ship so I look forward to re reading this thread again with new eyes.

Thanks

Martin
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Oh, don't you hate those dreaded "Page Not Found" responses? Well, I wrote it down character-for-character, so I'm sure it's right, but I'll double-check and repost if it's different, otherwise I'll let you know. Sorry about that.
 
C

Christina Rindt

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Mark
Thanks so much for this link. I find it deeply moving and truly enthralling, especially line by line. It's in my favourites.
Christina
 
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Hey, no problem. I thought some people would like it.
happy.gif
There seems to be a lot of talk here about the connections between the song and the incident, so I thought it was appropriate. I hope you find it useful. ;)

Take care
 
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I would have, but I have frequent problems with my comp. It's old, and a new CPU is on it's way in. Again, sorry about the link. Would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this site, Michael.

Take care
 
Dec 2, 2000
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An interesting site. I think this particular point is telling: "But no Fitzgerald. In the span of just a few seconds, with no distress
call, the Fitzgerald was gone" all of which points to whatever happened in the end going down so quickly, that the 'Fitz never even got off a peep about it.
 
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Yes, I thought that was interesting. A ship that size must have been overcome by water very quickly if the bridge crew didn't have time to relay information. It is my contention, then, that the ship broke in two at the surface, so that flooding would be rampant and immediate. Considering how the water flowed inside the two pieces from the latter end of the bow and the front end of the stern (despite the tremendous under current), it's easy to see how the two pieces landed close to one another on the bottom. This is my theory, anyway.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm inclined to agree with that for the most part...subject to any revisions that modern day forensics may be able to show of course. It wouldn't be the first time a ship was overcome that quickly and that catastrophically in heavy wheather. The holds of a Great Lakes frieghter are enormous and with the whole ship coming apart, it wouldn't take very long for all of them to be swamped.
 
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The question is: What was it that made such a big ship break in two in the first place? I haven't seen theories on this, just theories regarding "what caused the ship to sink," which, to me is a vague question, since there are different phases of any sinking brought about through a cause-and-effect process. For example: The sinking of the Titanic could be thought of in this cause-and-effect process:

Darkness and increased speed >> collision with the iceberg >> inflow of water at the bow >> "icetray" effect of water spilling over bulkheads >> bow being pulled under >> upper windows and open portholes provide added access for water >> increases speed of water inflow >> creation of extreme weight in submerged bow >> creates an imbalance which Titanic structure, by design, cannot tolerate >> ship breaks in two at aft expansion, just aft of the third funnel, where there is open space >> Bow's momentous pull toward the bottom pulls the keel free >> stern goes even due to release of excess weigh that had been caused by the water-filled bow >> opening at front of stern section takes on water >> pulls the after part of the ship vertical >> stern fills with water and sinks vertically due to lack of inbalance.

The EF, however, seems to lack the initial causes (of course, my knowledge on this sinking is much more limited than Titanic):

Storm, tempest waters, heavy winds >> (???) >> causes ship to break in two >> lack of heavy weight in the middle >> central section of ship crumbles away >> bow and stern both quickly fill with water >> bow settles upright on the bottom, while stern, unbalanced because the forward part is a portion of the weaker center section, flips over on it's way straight to the bottom >> since both pieces (theoretically) sink straight down (more or less), they land about 100 feet from each other.

Notice the question mark at the beginning of the process? This, as I have seen (unless I missed something) has not been definitely answered and is left up to conjecture and a handful of possibilities (open hatches, etc.). This point in the process, however, is a crucial point in the sinking that will, if and when found, explain what caused the ship to break in two. Until then, the breaking lacks some cohesion in solid comprehension because we aren't certain 100% what brought it about.

Michael, do you contend with this reasoning?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What was it that made such a big ship break in two in the first place?<<

Stresses greater then the hull girder could possibly survive in general terms. The rest is haggling over the details. A storm is seldom enough in and of itself to do the job, though it's not outside the realm of possibility. However, there are always a veriaty of other aggravating factors to take into account. It's not possible to rule out the possibility that one of the cargo covers wasn't properly dogged down for example, and there is some evidence which indicates that the 'Fitz may have run over a submerged rock. Either way, one the water has a way in, the stresses start to increase until it all reaches the breaking point.

Lots of room for discussion and debate here.

>>Michael, do you contend with this reasoning?<<

To a point, but note what I said about other possible aggravating factors. With the loss of the S.S. Marine Electric for example, one is talking about an old worn out ship with a hull in such poor shape, she never should have made that final trip in the first place even in calm waters, much less an Atlantic gale. With the bulk carrier Derbyshire, the most likely cause was a vent all the way up forward that let gave the ocean easy access to the forward cargo hold. Not a good thing when sailing into the teeth a typhoon.
 
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>>she never should have made that final trip in the first place even in calm waters, much less an Atlantic gale. With the bulk carrier Derbyshire, the most likely cause was a vent all the way up forward that let gave the ocean easy access to the forward cargo hold. Not a good thing when sailing into the teeth a typhoon.<<

Then she shouldn't have gone. Why did she?


>>Stresses greater then the hull girder could possibly survive in general terms.<<

That's true, but as you know, there are different kinds of stress. Figuring out specifically what caused that stress will help further study stress-related scenarios that will assist in improving the quality of shipbuilding. That's why I say the details are important to consider.


>>A storm is seldom enough in and of itself to do the job, though it's not outside the realm of possibility.<<

True, but you have to admit that this storm was not your 'average' storm (if there is such a thing, but I think you know what I mean). We must remember two things: (1) The storm was, as said, greater than anything that McSorley, in his own words, had ever encountered, and (2) because of the fact that it was a a greater storm and beyond the Captain's experiences, those on board weren't ready for or used to it. So, keeping in mind these two things, it may be possible for the storm to play a pivotal roll in the break-up. However, I see your reasoning regarding the underwater rock and agree that the storm had assistance in the destruction of the ship. Still, to ascertain the type of stress that played a part in the break-up, we'd need more details. Furthermore, in ascertaining what kind of stress was involved, we can likewise determine what other factors were involved.