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Gales of November: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald
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Archive: Other Books > The Gales of November-3 1/2 stars(POLLS)

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Joanne (joabroda1) | 7477 comments Gales of November: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald-3 1/2 Stars

On November 10th, 1975 the 729 foot ore freighter, The Edmund Fitzgerald, sank during a violent storm on Lake Superior. I was 19 years old at the time and vividly remember the news reports on this tragedy. The crew of 29 men were all lost.

Just a short primer for those who do not know the Great Lakes well. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world. It is the 3rd largest lake in volume. If you grow up around the Great Lakes, you are taught at an early age to respect these waters. I spent every summer touring all of the lakes and I know first hand how fast violent storms can erupt on them. They may not be the ocean, but believe me they are not the local swimming whole either.

On November 9th, 1975 a storm came down out of the Rocky mountains. As it moved across the Great Plains it began picking up moisture, from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. As it blew across Kansas the barometric pressure dropped from 29.53 to 29.40 and it began to turn towards the Midwest. At the same time a large storm front was forming and coming down from Canada. The result of the two storm fronts meeting over the Great Lakes produced a gigantic storm. The waves on on Lake Superior were reported at 35 feet and the winds at near hurricane force. The Fitzgerald was traveling from Duluth Minnesota with a full load of ore pellets to be delivered in Toledo, Ohio.

Why the Fitzgerald, a relatively young ship at only 17 years old, sunk is still debated today. The most logical theory is that she hit a shoal (a shallow area) and ripped a hole in the cargo hold. The storm was so violent, the experienced crew would not have heard the noise over the raging storm. Their instruments told them something was wrong, but experienced Great Lake sailors agree: there was nothing the captain could have done different. He set his sites on making Whitefish Bay, where the inland cover of the bay area would protect the ship and his crew. Sadly 15 miles before the bay, the ship went down.

This was a very personal story for me, as I grew up watching the freighters slip by down the Detroit River on their journey around Michigan. You can sit there on the river and watch the boats close up. I had seen this massive ship numerous times. There is a Mariners Church on the river and every November 10th they toll the church bells 29 times for each lost sailor.

There was a lot of science information, regarding weather. There as a lot of technical information on the ship and the shipping industry. However, the author interviewed many family and friends of the lost sailors. He told their story beautifully. All things considered, it was a decent expose on a terrible tragedy.


message 2: by annapi (new)

annapi | 4973 comments I might just look for this, I've always been curious about the Edmund Fitzgerald since I heard the song.


Joanne (joabroda1) | 7477 comments annapi wrote: "I might just look for this, I've always been curious about the Edmund Fitzgerald since I heard the song."

Anna, if you do make sure you check the author-there are 2 books out there with the same name(I only found this out after I had my inter-library system send me the wrong one first-duh!)


message 4: by KateNZ (new) - added it

KateNZ | 2323 comments I’d love to read this too - it sounds like a fascinating account. And visiting the Great Lakes is on my bucket list. I’ve been to Ontario but that’s all (and only a small snippet)


Joanne (joabroda1) | 7477 comments KateNZ wrote: "I’d love to read this too - it sounds like a fascinating account. And visiting the Great Lakes is on my bucket list. I’ve been to Ontario but that’s all (and only a small snippet)"

Well you just let me know when you get here! Oh What fun we could have!


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