Whitefish Point Exploration


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Before She Sank                                         Mike after the dive

Aurania Dive
We all have seen the words " Divers do it deeper "
Well on my boats it happens every season !

We do dives that others just dream about !

Other names : none
Official no. : 107186
Type at loss : propeller, steel, bulk freight
Build info : 1895, Chicago Shipbuilding Co., Chicago as a barge hull#12
Specs : 352x44x22, 3218g 2899n
Date of loss : 1909, Apr 29
Place of loss : near Parisienne Isl.
Lake : Superior
Type of loss : ice
Loss of life : none
Carrying : Coal
Detail : Trapped in pack ice with many other vessels in mid-April. Hull was slowly crushed and she sank on the 29th, in sight of fleet of the others. Crew walked to steamer J.H. BARTOW on the ice.
Wreck located in 1972.
Converted to steam in 1899.

In the summer of 2006 we decided to try and dive a shipwreck located in Whitefish Bay that very few divers had ever heard of before.  It was the Aurania, located not to far off Isle Parisienne smack dab in the middle of the shipping lanes which always makes life interesting too.  This expedition came about because Mike McKay who lives in Michigan had always wanted to make this dive and after diving the Carl D. Bradley in 2004 with Mike I thought we could pull it off with out to many problems.  Joining Mike in the water were his long time friends and dive buddy's Tom Doubleday, (Michigan)  Jeff Hunter, (Michigan) and Phil Patz from the Chicago Area.

For an expedition as deep as the Aurania there are very few divers that I would ever consider putting in the water, but these divers and friends are as good as they get when it comes to deep shipwreck diving and I trust there judgement on the dives as I hope they do mine as well when it comes to running the boat for them.  Unlike the Carl D. Bradley trips when we had the luxury of diving off of the Nordic Diver on this expedition we were using my smaller boat the 24 foot "RV Explorer" This added to the challenge due to all the gear involved that included among other things three sets of double's, one rebreather, and sixteen stage bottles.  Not to mention all the normal gear one uses to dive in cold water.

After arriving in Paradise Michigan and spending a few days waiting for the weather to cooperate enough to run ten miles off shore to the Aurania dive site we awoke on a day with flat calm seas.  The evening before I had setup our Klein sidescan Sonar that was going to be needed to pinpoint the exact location of the shipwreck and hoping for a little luck,  Tom Doubleday and myself headed out of Whitefish Harbor heading East to find the Aurania.  We had a rough set of Loran and GPS numbers and when we arrived on location we dropped the sonar fish in the water letting out about 300' of cable.  After about an hour we came across something on the bottom but the image was terrible and I had my doubts as to it being the Aurania on the computer screen in front of me.  We also noticed what looked like a fish net marker very close by and not wanting to get the sonar fish too close I decided to play it safe and keep my distance.  At this point we knew the others would be waiting at the harbor for news, good or bad so we headed in and as I recall I told Tom that I was not comfortable putting four divers down in 450 ffw on something that I was not certain was the Aurania.  Tom agreed and after talking to the others after we got back it was decided (or at least I thought it was) that we would give up on diving the Aurania and settle for some other well known wrecks in the area to dive that day.

To my surprise as I was loading gear aboard the RV Explorer I noticed Tom Farnquist  heading for his vessel the David Boyd so I yelled over just to say hi and be friendly and Tom asked what we were up too.  So I explained that we had been out looking for the Aurania in hopes of finding her and making the dive but I wasn't sure if we hit it or not.  At this point Tom said that they had found the shipwreck on sidescan a while back and invited me over to the RV David Boyd to compare my GPS numbers with his.  As I recall at this point there were a few stunned & dumbfounded divers looking at me walking over to the David Boyd with Tom Farnquist.  After Tom turned on what seemed like every computer in the U. P. aboard his vessel we compared the numbers and what we had hit was indeed the Aurania in 458 ffw of cold Lake Superior water.  I thanked Tom and walked back to the RV Explorer where everyone was waiting and said "lets go dive the Aurania"

We loaded up all the Gear, tanks, stages and headed for the dive site 10 miles East. Everyone had been expecting the wreck to be lying in 420 - 430 ffw and the fact that it was almost in 460 ffw was very unexpected.  However when you have been diving as long as these guys have you never let a little END difference get in the way of a Great dive on a shipwreck that no one had ever dove before.  After arriving on site we hooked into the wreck (first try) and everyone got ready.  There would be three bottom divers, Mike, Tom & Jeff with Phil as deep support on his CCR for safety.  They all rolled off the boat and did exactly as planned making the dive to the wreck of the Aurania where no man had gone before and returned safely right on schedule.  Due to the depth cameras were not much use on this dive so we have only topside images for now, but there is always next season !

Below are the gasses used to make this dive and the run times.

10 /70 Bottom Mix

14/44 @ 300 '

32% @ 130 '

50 % @ 70 '

100 % @ 20 '

Run Time = 167 minutes, 432 ffw to the deck, 447 ffw bottom.

The hook was mid ship, in a cargo hold.

Click on image to enlarge

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2007 Schedule - Milwaukee Area Diving (Prins Willem - Milwaukee Car Ferry - St. Albens - EMBA - #6 Dredge - Grace Channon - Tennie & Laura - Gillan Tug - Island City - Wisconsin - Rosinco) - Sturgeon Bay to Manitowoc (Lakeland - Vernon - R. Simmons - Silver Lake - Walter B Allen - Floretta - Home - Helvetia - Northerner) - Lake Huron Diving (Florida - Windiate - Audubon - Norman - Typo - Cedarville) - Lake Superior Whitefish Pt. (Vienna - Panther - Comet - Superior City - Zillah - John B Cowle - John Mitchell - John M Osbourne - Samuel Mather) - Sport Diving - Technical Exploration - Shipwreck Photo History - Shipwreck Movies - Deep Sea Detectives - Sonar Images & Surveys - Meet the Crew - Great Lakes Weather & Links - Carl D. Bradley Exploration - Aurania Exploration - Newsletter - Home Page

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