Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Edmund Fitzgerald: With the Gales of November Remembered

edmund fitzgeraldForty two years ago yesterday, the Edmund Fitzgerald left Superior Wisconsin loaded with 26,116 long tons of iron ore – enough to build 75 thousand cars – on it’s way to Zug Island in Detroit. As infamously memorialized in song, it never arrived.

lake superior gathering storm

Sailing directly into one of the Great Lakes most ferocious storms, she was no match for the lake’s fury which created sustained winds of hurricane force and 25 foot waves with troughs twice that. A mere 15 miles away from safe harbor it split in two and went down with its entire 29 member crew. Such are the fates. Such are the gales of November. Such is the force of nature. Map of the fateful voyage

Until then the worst storm documented on the Great Lakes was a 3 day blow from November 7-10, 1913, over a hundred years ago now, that claimed 19 ships and took 250 lives. I rerun this story every year not because it is such a heart-stopping saga but because it is a reminder that in the scheme of things we are really quite powerless. Man did not create climate change; Somebody else did that for us.

So raise a glass to the memory of the good men who served on the Edmund Fitzgerald that fateful day; to the men who sail into the storm not knowing what their fate might be, knowing full well they may not reach safe harbor. 

trump i am the storm

A proper drink would be a Dark ‘n Stormy made with Gosling’s black rum and ginger beer although in the Great Lakes we use Vernors. But if, like our president you don’t imbibe, just enjoy a glass of Vernors - because “that’s what we drink around here.”

vernors glass

And what would a memorial to the Edmund Fitzgerald be without the sea chanty?


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