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The Wreck of the Bermuda: Stand Up Paddle Board Snorkeling

It seems that the word has gotten out about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!  Every summer this little town on the edge of the National Lakeshore, has been booming with folks looking to explore the trails and its famous sea cliffs.  While it may seem busy to some folks there is a way to escape the crowds.  Grand Island is an island located in Lake Superior, about one-half mile from the mainland community of Munising.  The island is the perfect place to spend a day or even just a few hours paddling, biking and exploring. The island’s breathtaking overlooks, pristine sandy beaches, fascinating cultural sites, deep hard woods, and inland lakes make it an exciting and secluded destination.  A great day trip is to paddle across from the mainland to Murray Bay to visit the Wreck of the Bermuda.

The paddle starts with a short open water crossing to Grand Island, around Muskrat Point, to the protected Murray Bay.  The Bermuda is marked with two buoys in the middle of the bay.  The best way to view the wreck is to bring along a snorkel and fins which can be conveniently tucked under the deck lines of a stand up paddle board.  While you can do this out of a kayak, a SUP makes a perfect dive platform!

The Bermuda , a 150 foot wooden schooner foundered and sank in the spring of 1870 in Murray Bay on Grand Island. Her top deck is just 12 feet below the water’s surface where she has remained for 128 years. The wreck is intact,and in remarkable condition for a shallow wreck.  The cold water of Lake Superior rushed into the small forecastle with sledge hammer-like force. It slammed the sleeping crewmen against the hull planks, shocking them into confused consciousness. Their desperate struggles were to no avail. When they climbed into the rat hole of a forecastle they called home, all was right with the world, but it was here that three of the crew of the BERMUDA met their end.

Snorkeling from a Stand Up Paddle Board in Lake Superior

The two-masted Bermuda was designed to trade through the old Welland Canal between Lakes Ontario and Erie. Launched at Oswego, New York in April 1860, she was 136 feet in length, 26 feet in beam and 11 feet, 9 inches in depth. Her early years were spent in the grain trade between Lakes Michigan and Ontario. When the demand for iron ore increased, she shifted to carrying ore down from Marquette, Michigan.

On September 21, 1870 she left the lower lakes for Marquette with a cargo of general supplies and arrived without any incidents. After loading 488 tons of ore she departed on October 14, but was caught in a gale off Grand Marais, MI. The pounding of the waves caused her to start leaking and her captain brought her to shelter in Munising Bay where she reportedly filled and sank. Thirteen years later, in October 1883, the Bermuda was successfully raised and towed into Murray Bay. Once in the bay however, the lifting chains apparently slipped and the schooner settled on the bottom again. More than 120 tons of ore were able to be unloaded before the the Bermuda once again sank.

This report is from the book Dangerous Coast: Pictured Rocks Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse and Daniel Fountain, Avery Color Studios, Marquette Michigan, 1997.

Snorkeling the Shipwreck of the Bermuda in Munising Michigan
Snorkeling the Shipwreck of the Bermuda in Munising Michigan
Snorkling in Lake Superior from a Stand Up Paddle Board