The third annual symposium on Shipwrecks, organized by the Niagara Divers' Association, a Niagara-based dive club of about 50 members, was held on Saturday, March 1, 1997 in Welland, Ontario. The one-day event attracted an audience of over 400, who came to listen to presentations on Shipwrecks ranging from recreational through to technical requirements, as well as expanding the history of a number of Great Lakes shipwrecks.

Cris Kohl (Chatham, Ontario) once again opened and closed the show with his presentations History of the Daniel J. Morrell and Treacherous Waters: Kingston's Shipwrecks. Out of the Blue Productions (Lexington, Michigan) presented The Morrell Today. The Morrell's Sole Survivor, Dennis Hale (Dayton, Ohio) told of his 38 hour ordeal aboard a life raft wearing only a peacoat and underwear during one of Lake Huron's worst November Storms. Local Fort Erie diver Sandy Lapere introduced presentations by Frederick Stonehouse (Flushing, Michigan) and Terrence Tysall (Orlando, Florida) on The History Of and Diving the Edmund Fitzgerald by performing Gordon Lightfoot's now famous song. The story of the Judge Hart was told by Matt Turchi and Darryl Ertel (Flint, Michigan) in their video A Cold Dark Hart. NDA member David Gilchrist (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) gave an overview of Diving the Niagara Peninsula and Marc Beaudry (Maple, Ontario) also an NDA member, premiered his new video Diving the Lakes - A Video Sampling.

A hot lunch and refreshments, along with door prizes donated by Ed's Pro Dive of St. Catharines, Sherwood Scuba of Lockport NY, and Divers' Den of Tobermory, were some of the extras enjoyed by attendees. Speakers freely mingled and were available for discussion, book signing and video sales throughout the day and into the evening.

Following are excerts from our 1997 flyer listing speakers and topics.


On November 29, 1966, the Daniel J. Morrell sailed into lower Lake Huron on what was to be her last trip of the season. As she rounded the tip of Michigan's Thumb, she faced the full fury of a storm whose winds reached 65 m.p.h. and waves exceeding 25 feet. With little warning, the Morrell broke in half. Of her crew of 29 men, only one survived ..... Dennis Hale. The program features a 3 part presentation:

Part 1: CRIS KOHL, with a multimedia slide presentation of the history of the Morrell's career from her launch up to her final voyage.

Part 2: OUT OF THE BLUE PRODUCTIONS, recent underwater video of the Morrell as she lies today, her bow and stern separated by five miles.

Part 3: DENNIS HALE, will tell the incredible story of watching his ship tear in two and how he survived 38 hours on an open life raft clad only in his peacoat and underwear.

Cris Kohl, one of our most popular speakers, has returned for his third year with SHIPWRECKS. Cris, a long time resident of the central Great Lakes region, has been a very active and avid scuba diver since 1974. He has written several books on diving in Ontario, including Dive Southwestern Ontario; Shipwreck Tales: The St. Clair River (to 1900); Dive Ontario; Dive Ontario Two and his most recent venture Treacherous Waters: Kingston's Shipwrecks. He has also written many articles on maritime history and scuba diving, which have appeared in Diver Magazine, Inland Seas, Ontario Divers Digest, Diving Times and numerous other publications.

Out of the Blue Productions is really three people, Jim & Pat Sayer and Tim Juhl. Since 1987, the trio has been working together to locate and produce documentaries on shipwrecks, primarily in the Great Lakes. They started out shooting 35 mm slides and have graduated to using digital video cameras and state-of-the-art computer based editing equipment. Educators by profession, they enjoy sharing the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes with the public, through their video productions.

Dennis Hale, the sole survivor of the S.S. Daniel J. Morrell, lives quietly with his wife Doria in Dayton, Ohio. Today Dennis works as a skilled machinist, and must daily deal with his memories of the night that changed his life forever. Dennis has collaborated with Tim Juhl and Pat & Jim Stayer to produce a book on his experience, titled Sole Survivor, which will be available at the show.



On November 10, 1975, the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, claimed her largest and most famous victim. Christened in 1958, at 729' long, 75' wide and 39' deep, she was considered a proud flagship of the Lakes. Twenty-nine crew members perished, along with the loss of the ship and its cargo, and to this date mystery surrounds her sinking. Many mariners dismiss the official findings (unsecured hatches) and believe one of several other scenarios. Frederick Stonehouse, author of The Wreck of the Fitzgerald, will document her history, events surrounding her loss and subsequent investigations.

Frederick Stonehouse has authored eleven books on Great Lakes history, with a twelfth due out in the summer of 1997. He is a frequent lecturer on diving, shipwreck exploration and maritime research, with major presentations given at "Our World Underwater" in Chicago and "Underwater Canada" in Toronto. Among many other accomplishments, he has served as project director for a shipwreck survey of Isle Royale National Park, participated in the 1989 Edmund Fitzgerald ROV survey, served as special consultant for the 1980 Cousteau Great Lakes expedition, and is a licensed Coast Guard vessel operator, 50 tons, for all of the waters of the Great Lakes. He has received many awards related to diving and maritime history.



In 1995, Terrence Tysall of Orlando and Mike Zee of Chicago, became the first people to touch the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald since it sank in the storm of November 10, 1975. The dive was made possible by advances in gear, training and gas mixes required for survival at 530 feet in 34 degree water. Terrence speaks of the logistics of an undertaking such as this and of his profound impressions of the dive.

Terrence Neal Tysall is President/Founder of The Cambrian Foundation, a federally recognized not-for-profit corporation based in Florida. The mission of the foundation is research, education, exploration and preservation of the aquatic realm. He has organized and led expeditions to various sites the world over. Terrence holds Instructor Trainer/Evaluator ratings with IANTD, NACD, NAUI, NSS-CDS, SSI and TDI. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Florida Speleological Researchers and is on the Board of Advisors with Scott Carpenter and Clive Cussler of the League of the New Worlds.



The steamer Judge Hart was making its final transit of Lake Superior for the 1942 shipping season when it encountered a severe ice storm. Its collision with a charted shoal did not cause its immediate demise. Matt Turchi and Darryl Ertel present the final moments of the Hart, with animation as well as startling underwater footage. From the signal charts still hanging in the pilothouse to the ship's bell, the Judge Hart represents one of Superior's finest.

Matt Turchi and Darryl Ertel have been diving the Great Lakes since 1987 and have concentrated their efforts in Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior. Matt is currently on the Board of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and enjoys making drawings/scale models of ships they dive.

Darryl, a resident of Grand Blanc, is full cave certified and instructs open water, mixed gas, as well as closed-circuit rebreather use through IANTD and TDI. Darryl is also an instructor for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

Matt and Darryl have been published in Sport Diver (August 96), Immersed (Fall 96) and Ontario's Archaeological Reports (94, 95, 96).



(see biosketch under Morrell presentation)

Effervescent with maritime history, Kingston, at the eastern end of the Great Lakes, offers an extremely high concentration of intact shipwrecks. Enjoy the adventure of exploring sunken vessels such as the elegant, 1848 sidewheeler Comet, the tragic schooner George A. Marsh (with 12 lives lost, including the captain and his family!), and the newest shipwreck discovery, the tug Frontenac.



David Gilchrist has been diving since 1970. He has remained active in diving since certification and is a Master Scuba Diver Trainer with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

In the late 1970's David pursued a serious interest in underwater photography. His exhibits include Freshwater, and Beneath Arctic Waters. A number of images from his most recent exhibit, Haida Gwaii - Beneath the Waves, which depict the marine life of the Queen Charlotte Islands, are currently on display at the Ontario Science Centre. His images have appeared in several magazines and children's books.

David's presentation at SHIPWRECKS/97 will be related to the varied diving in the Niagara Peninsula, including a photographer's view of two shipwrecks - the Raleigh and the Carlingford.



Back for his second year with SHIPWRECKS, NDA club member Marc Beaudry has been diving since 1976 and holds ratings of Divemaster, Full Cave and Trimix. His passion for underwater video photography has taken him to locations in the Caribbean, Mexican cenotes, Florida fresh water caves and Great Lakes wrecks.

Marc has captured on video many NDA and personal dive sites over the years. As the title suggests, his presentation will document a variety of Great Lakes wreck sites, many of which will be familiar to those attending.

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