Lake Huron has seen its fair share of seafarers and, tragically, has also seen many of them never make it to their destinations. The Dorcas Pendell was a schooner that, at its time, was a real looker of a vessel. Like many ships passing through the Great Lakes, though, she met her fate during a storm that took down the ship as though it was nothing but a toy, bouncing around on the water.

Today, the ship resides in one of the shallowest parts of the lake, not far from the shore. The vessel is submerged so close to the surface that those taking a kayak tour could practically reach out and touch it - something that many shipwrecks don't offer their potential explorers. That's not the only reason to visit this site, though - there are an additional two shipwrecks that can be found along the same shoreline beside Dorcas Pendell.


The History & Demise Of Dorcas Pendell, Now A Shallow Lake Huron Shipwreck

The Great Lakes have long been hailed for their dangerous weather conditions and wicked storms, many of which have grounded shipwrecks for more than a century. The Dorcas Pendell was witness to that first-hand after an unfortunate run-in with the Big Storm of 1913. Also known as the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, it was recorded as the most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the Great Lakes region. By the time it was over, the storm had taken the lives of more than 250 people, leaving 19 ships destroyed with another 19 stranded - and one of them was the Dorcas Pendell.

The storm began on November 7th, 1913, and went on for a total of three days. By the second day of the storm, the waves on Lake Superior were more than any ship could handle. It was reported that a rogue wave, reaching about 50 feet in height, damaged a steel bulk freighter by the name of the L.C. Waldo before it made advances to get out of the storm's path. The ship eventually ran aground and, by that time, winds had whipped up to 70 miles per hour with full-blown blizzard conditions.

From there, the storm moved onto Lake Erie and Lake Huron, bringing with it very much of the same weather the other lakes had experienced. The storm maintained its 70-mile per hour winds with gusts even higher than that.

  • Fact: A strong wind gust of 90 miles per hour was recorded off Harbor Beach, where the Dorcas Pendell had washed aground.

The geography of Lake Huron only served to further enhance the power of the storm. It's estimated that the greatest damage was found on this lake, as ships were found overturned, sunken, and run aground in the aftermath.

Related: Lake Champlain Is Home To 300 Shipwrecks, These Are The Most Divable

Visiting The Dorcas Pendell, No Diving Or Snorkeling Gear Needed

Considering the Great Lakes Storm was more than a century ago, it's incredible that to this day, its wrecks can still be seen. In the case of the Dorcas Pendell, it's incredible that the wreck can be seen so close to the surface of the lake - close enough, even, to touch at times. The schooner, built in 1884, has deteriorated quite a bit and part of that is due to the fire that broke out following its grounding. When the ship got caught in the Great Lake's most destructive storm, it was grounded on a nearby sandbar. The following summer, the ship caught fire and was partially destroyed, leaving nothing but the hull, for the most part.

According to reports that came in during the storm, the vessel was in bad condition when it made its way to the nearest shoreline, thus the reason for its quick deterioration. With that being said, however, those visiting the site of this shipwreck will be pleased to know that they can still see the ship from the waterline down - in only about five feet of water. The ship itself sits just 2,000 feet off the shoreline of Harbor Beach, the largest man-made freshwater harbor in the world, located within Lake Huron.

See Two Other Wrecks When Kayaking Lake Huron

Those keen to see other wrecks in the area have two more options. During a kayaking trip - which is the easiest and best way to see them - visits can also visit the sites of the George H. Waud and the John Wesley shipwrecks. The kayak launch from Harbor Beach sits almost directly in between the George H. Waud and Dorcas Pendell wrecks, so those are the easiest to find early on. Both additional shipwrecks are also schooners and, similar to the story of the Dorcas Pendell, sunk but came back with no lives lost.

Harbor Beach Kayak recommends reserving at least one to two hours in order to kayak around these wrecks, and they're marked by the red buoys floating above them.

Next: These Are The Most Easily Accessible Shipwrecks In The World For Divers