The Cedarville Shipwreck – 07/04/09-07/05/09

I spent my 4th of July weekend diving in the Straits of Mackinac, what did you do??

We did 4 dives on 3 shipwrecks, 2 dives on the Cedarville, 1 on the Sandusky and 1 on the M. Stalker. I will split the post into 3, one for each shipwreck.

The Cedarville

Description from Cris Kohl’s  The Great Lakes Diving Guide:

LORAN: 31210.7/48130.6                          GPS: 45  47.230’/084  40.253′

DEPTH: 40 to 106 ft                                        LEVEL: Intermediate-Advanced

LOCATION: This wreck lies 2.8 miles east of Old Mackinac Point.

Launched as the A.F. Harvey on April 9, 1927, at River Rouge, Michigan, the steel freighter, Cedarville (588’3″ x 60’2″ x 30’8″), recieved her name change in 1957. She sank with the tragic loss of ten lives on May 7, 1965, after a collision in dense fog with the Norwegian freighter, Topdalsfjord. All but one of the bodies were recovered.

One of the best known and most frequently visited shipwrecks in the Straits, the immense Cedarville lies on her starboard side and remains quite intact, but don’t rush inside this wreck. The daring rescue of a desperate diver lost insidethe engine room in July 2000, where an extra tank of air with a regulator had to be passed to him through a porthole before trained cave divers went in and got him out, made it clear that penetration diving is only for the trained, experienced, and totally prepared. Don’t even think about doing this large wreck in a single dive; buoy markers are placed at the bow and at the stern. Take your pick.

 There, that got the book quotes out of the way, so now I can move on to my experience. Oh yeah, just a note here, I did forget my underwater camera for this trip. I know, how could I forget! I was kicking myself all weekend. I thought about picking up a disposable, but then it was pointed out to me that they won’t hold up that deep.  So I apologize, and I will post links at the end to sites with pictures.

The Cedarville

Location: Lake Huron, Michigan

Maximum Depth: 106 ft on the stern side (which was my max depth)

Visibility:  20-50ft

Directions: Uh, head north to Mackinac Bridge, find a boat or a charter service, head out on to the water until you find the buoy markers? Seriously though, this is a 100% boat dive, so you will either have to have your own boat (big lake worthy), or hire a charter service ($$). The GPS coordinates are above. We used a charter that docked on the north side of the bridge, in St. Ignace. There were 2 other charters docked there too. I am not sure if any go out from the south side of the bridge in Mackinaw City.

Location Description: Hmm… how to describe the Straits of Mackinac….  Well I can tell you that there are 2 buoy markers, marking the Cedarville.

One of the buoys marking the Cedarville

 Nice view of the bridge.

But, be aware of the boat traffic.

Out of Water Conditions: Sunny, mid 60’s, a bit breezy, but that’s to be expected on the Great Lakes.

Water Conditions: Choppy waters, slight current.

Water Temps: Saturday- Stern Dive- Min. Temp: 42F      Sunday- Bow Dive- Min. Temp: 43F

My Experience: The Cedarville is basically broken in half. Like the book says, you can’t dive the whole thing in one dive, so it typically is split into a bow dive, and a stern dive. Honestly though, the ship is so huge, there is no way to see everything in two dives. We dove the stern on Saturday, and the bow on Sunday.

The Stern Dive: This was our first dive of the weekend. This was also my first ‘real’ big lake shipwreck dive.  I dove in Lake Michigan once, briefly, and didn’t pass the 40′ marker, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew our dives were going to fall in the 80′-110′ range, and from my inland lake experiences, I expected it to be cold and dark. When someone would say something about expecting at least a 20′ visibility, my thought was, sure, with a flashlight. Even Gilboa Quarry got really dark after 80′.  Well, let’s just say, I came out of the water after that first dive with a big-ass grin. Instantly the BEST dive ever!  This is why I got into diving.

I could see, I didn’t get cold, (I was one of two in the group diving wet) I could see, and oh yeah, did I mention I COULD SEE!  If you didn’t read my last post, I just got my new prescription mask before the trip. I am extremely nearsided, and have been diving blind for the past year and a half. IT’S A WHOLE NEW WORLD! So that, in itself, probably made this dive the best dive ever. Ok, so it didn’t hurt that the visibility was great. It was darker on the Cedarville than it was on the other dives, but no where near what I was thinking. The only time I needed the flashlight was to look inside the boat.

When we went down on the stern, we somehow overlooked the superstructure, which was right by the line. We went over and swam through and around the cargo areas, which were large and open. Didn’t make it to the break on this dive.  Headed back, checking out some parts of the superstructure, and headed back up. The zebra muscles were insane! And those little Goby fish,  Everywhere! But I could see them  🙂

The Bow Dive: There seemed to be more to see on the bow of the ship. Lots of windows to peek in. Unfortunantly, I’m not a ship expert (or even a novice), so I don’t know all the names of the rooms and equiptment and stuff you see, but there was a lot. We did make it to the break this time. That was something else. We first swam over it to get “the big picture” view, than swam through it. This second dive wasn’t quite as enjoyable for me as the first one was, but that was because I was cold this time. The water temps were a whopping degree higher, but I guess my core temp wasn’t quite back up yet. My max depth on the bow was 99′ and the visibility wasn’t quite as good as the stern’s the day before.


If you are a diver, whether you live in Michigan or not, the Great Lakes Shipwrecks are a MUST dive!  Inland lakes just don’t even compare. This is litterally some of the best diving in the world, right here in my own backyard!

Cedarville Links – Additional Info & Pics

Straits Underwater Preserve

Great Lakes Explorer’s Cedarville Pics

YouTube Cedarville Videos

Google Image Search


2 Responses

  1. I found a weird shipwreck caught with google earth! For those who are interested visite,
    I hope you enjoy 😉

  2. Read your post on Cedarville and having dove on this wreck 15 times as well as being inside her I can asure you she is not in two (2) section she is intact. There is however a large hole in her from inpact with Saltie.Saty out of inside very easy to become confused as she lies on her side, but Engine Room is very interesting and P. House is fairly safe… Keep Diving…………Larry S

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