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the shipwreck stretches a hundred feet from shore
the rips of the ship emerge from the sandy bottom
the size of the ship becomes evident when compared with the figure on shore
ribs and spikes
timbers beneath the shimmering water's surface

The Shipwreck at Little Sand Bay

     On July 20th, 2000 Ken Bruland Beaver Island's summertime kayak instructor, excitedly told us that he had taken one of his classes around Luney's Point and had found a hundred-foot-long shipwreck at the north end of Little Sand Bay.  It started on the shore, he said, and lay in only 18" of water at its extremity. A large section of keel was exposed, from which fifteen or more ribs went down into the sand, only to rise up again and break the water's surface 12' away.
     I couldn't remember seeing it when I walked that shore after the Nature Conservancy acquired the south half of the bay from Peter Doney a few years ago. I immediately phoned Phil Gregg, Beaver Island's marine historian.  "Yes, I saw it, back in the 60s when the water was really low," he said.  "I think the keel is pine instead of oak. I tried to find out what it was, but the standard sources didn't have anything on it."  Apparently it was covered by sand when the water was deeper.
     The next day Dave Young, a Chicago Tribune reporter and long-time nautical buff, took a look at it. "At least a hundred years old," he said. "Judging by the kind of steel spikes and square nails. No telling where she went down, or how long it took her to wash up here."
     We went out to see it on the evening of the 26th. The water was warm, and the sand bubbled under our feet.  Island diver Al Doebler used to claim there was a shipwreck in almost every bay, but we couldn't remember having seen one on the shore. Substantial pieces of driftwood, sure, but nothing the size of this. We wondered if an excavation of the area could ever be done, and, if it could, if anything else would turn up. We decided it was unlikely that anything more would ever be learned. We would never know how or when the ship had gone down, if it was scuttled or wrecked. Whether or not lives had been lost. If the water stays low, ice might break up this noble skeleton from a bygone time.  In a sense, as we stood there imagining, we were watching a little bit of history disappear right before our mindsī eyes.

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