By Dean Sandell
Please note: all ship wrecks mentioned in this article have there own information go to map and click on there pin for more information and photos.
Distance one way:
Drummond Island side only of Red area on Map full length one way: 2.25 miles
Crossing to DeTour just South of Fring Pan Island to the Alice C. farthest North Wreck and back to Drummond 2.1 miles This is one way and in this rough you will almost positively need to back track. Making this distance much longer.
Level: Advanced or Expert
The DeTour Passage Underwater Preserve is located at the eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is Michigan’s tenth underwater preserve. Most of the wrecks in the Preserve are opposite Drummond Island on the mainland side of the shipping channel. There is a wreck just north Drummond Island on the western edge of Little Trout Island.
Paddling in the Preserve is interesting. Paddlers are going to be sharing the water with a lot of boat traffic, the Drummond Island Ferry, Great Lakes and ocean going freighters, sailboats, power boats fishing charters and the list goes on but it also is a big place and easy to find your own space.
If getting a thrill “floats your boat”, then paddling in and adjacent to the shipping lane for Great Lakes freighters is something to experience. It is definitely going to happen here. Staying close to the shore will keep you out of the shipping channel. When you decide to cross the channel, pick a narrow place to cross and be deliberate. The winds, waves and current in the shipping channel will affect your paddling route.
So, paddlers expect waves, boat wakes and weather to test your skills. It is necessary to be vigilant; as big fast moving boats, may not see you. With caution, paddling the shore looking for evidence of wrecks and parts of boat ruins can be rather fun. One can get a sense of discovery knowing that being a dedicated preserve means there is a lot of marine archeology to search for and identify. This can be a great way to spend time on your own or with fellow paddlers.
To get to the debris fields around along the DeTour shore from Drummond Island, paddlers will need to cross the DeTour Passage Shipping Channel. Caution is the word here. So, don’t let a sense of discovery get carried away so that you (and or your paddling partners) lose track of being in an extremely busy boating venue. Paddling ‘safely’ requires good judgment; when you’re on the water, the lake freighters and ocean-going ‘salties’ move more quickly than it seems and they have the right of way. If you can see the bow wake turn over and appear white, it is a good idea to stop and let the freighter pass; brace as needed, then paddle on.
Sometimes, you can feel the vibration of a passing ship’s propellers, followed by the water rising of a bow wake. Different ship designs produce different sounds and wave patterns as they power through the water. Older designed ship make huge wakes as they pass, while a newer design will create a much lighter wake. As a one thousand foot freighter passes your sixteen foot long sea kayak, it becomes dwarfed by the sheer height and length of the ship. It can seem like it takes forever to pass. Enjoy watching it and don’t become part of the underwater preserve yourself.
Near DeTour on the Eastern Upper Peninsula side of the Preserve
From the South paddling north the first surface wreck is the General. N 45 59.232
W 83 53.832
Just North of this location at N45 59.351 W 83 53.792 There are two wrecks side by side the first is the Steamer JOHN W. CULLEN the Second is Sainte Maries.
North of the Drummond ferry docks and just off the coast of DeTour is the Superior
Located at N45 59.699 W83 53.936
Again following the coast of DeTour north you will come to the Two Mytles located at
N45 59.955 W83 53.936
Not far north of this location is the Alice C. located at N45 59.959 W83 53.959
All the ship wrecks listed here are visible from the surface and your kayak. All these maps and many more are shown on the new Drummond Island Tourism Map. I have said it before and will say again it’s a must for kayakers.
There are settings that provide shore and shallow water access to sites within the DeTour Passage Underwater Preserve. One can find places are wooden-hulled vessels that were left to “molder” near shore. A portion of one of these, the Sainte Marie, can be seen above water. The steel paddlewheel of another shipwreck can also be seen above water nearby.
Near the municipal marina, divers can find the remains of several old freighters, dock ruins, and a variety of small artifacts left from fueling operations. Taking pictures is a great way to preserve the sense of discovery, but taking artifacts home is against the law.
If you are travel the coast of Drummond and decide not to cross to the DeTour side you will also find areas of interest. First as you clear Barbed Point you will have a great view of the totally restored DeTour Reef Lighthouse. If you have binoculars and there are charter fishing boats around the lighthouse watch a few minutes and see them haul in some monsters. By hugging the coast you can stay safe and yet have a great view of the Saint Marys River the shipping lanes. Head north and before you get to the ferry dock you will come to the Drummond Island Quarry where they mine Dolomite if you are lucky a ship will be in and you can see it loading. This area is privately owned and is no place to land or dawdle.
Just after the Quarry is the Drummond Ferry docks where both the Drummond Island IIIAnd IV dock. These ferries leave from one side or the other 30 minutes or less. In the summer it’s almost always less. It is important to clear this area and be very ware of the two ferry’s and remember they have the right away.