Witches of November

                                             THE WITCHES OF NOVEMBER
 
November 28, 1905 - The weekend storm ripped through Lake Superior beginning on Thanksgiving Day. 38 ships were on the Lakes when the storm began, even though many of the     “old salts” had warned against travel. The demands of the shipping companies must be met.  The Storm has also become known as the “Mataffa Storm” because the ship ran aground on the beach trying to enter Duluth harbor. Half the crew froze to death that evening because the seas were so violent rescue was impossible. The other half survived the storm by building a fire in the Captain’s bathtub with wreckage from the ship.
                                  
 In all 29 vessels were destroyed or sunk. 39 lives were lost. In 1909, because of the 1905 storm Split Rock Light, one of the most famous in the Lakes, by act of Congress.
 
November 8, 9, 10, 1913 - The first part of November, 1913 was unseasonably warm. Shirt           sleeves were the order of the day and kids played ball on their yards without coats on November 6th. Change began on November 7th when a moisture laden warm front from the Gulf met with the first blast of very cold arctic air from Canada. The two fronts met over Lake Superior and in 24 hours created a storm of unprecedented strength and magnitude.
                                           
The Storm became known as “The White Hurricane” Before exiting on November 10th the storm has created amassed a record for death and destruction unequaled in Great Lakes history. Twelve Ships sank with 254 lives lost. 58 ships were run aground or damaged due to the storm. 8 of the 12 ships were lost on Lake  Huron. Poor Judgement, inadequate commutations, ships not built       for this weather, poor weather forecasting and greed were all factors in making this event the worst of its type ever in Lakes History.
 
November 11, 1937  - November 11, 1937 began warm, but cloudy on the Lake Michigan           shores. Duck hunters were in their blinds in shirt sleeves. In less than 24 hrs. the barometer had dropped 24 millibar, the temperature dropped 40 degrees in 6 to 8 hrs. The storm was ferocious     over land and Lake. 66 sailors died when three freighters and two smaller ships sank. The total death toll attribute to the storm was 258.
 
November 18, 1958 - The Carl D. Bradley with her crew of 34 left Gary, Indiana after delivering  her load of calcite. All hands were excited about returning to their home Port of Rogers City with this last run. The Captain knew his ship was “tired” and would require lots of work during the Winter lay up.
 
The trip North up the shores of Lake Michigan was uneventful until the ship reached the top of Lake Michigan and headed into the straits of Mackinaw.  The gale from the Southwest sprung up with winds of 45 to 50 knots creating seas of 25 to 30 ft. The ship, being empty, was not handling well in the gale, but at 5:00 in the afternoon the Captain radioed Rogers City, stating “All was well” and the ship expected to make port on schedule. Fifteen minutes later the ship began to break up, SOS was sounded but fifteen minutes later the ship was in 350 feet of water.
Two survivors were found 14 hrs. later on a raft by the Coast Guard Cutter SUNDEW. Two thirds of the crew hailed from Rogers City.                                   

November 29, 1966 -  The 580ft. Daniel J. Morrell was on her last voyage of the season with her    crew of 29 looking forward to the winter’s rest.  Heading down Lake Huron the ship got caught in a gale with winds of 40 to 50 knots and seas 20 to 25 feet high 14 Miles Northeast of Pointe aux Barques at 2:00am the Captain realized his ship was going down. At 2:15 the ship broke in half with the bow section sinking in 4 minutes. Many of the crew died jumping into the 34degree angry waters of Lake Huron.
 
Thirty nine hours later a Coast Guard rescue Helicopter found Dennis Hale, a 26yr. old watchman, on a raft just south of the Pointe aux Barques Light. Dennis was dressed in a pair of boxer shorts, life jacket and pea coat.
 
November 10, 1975 - Forty years ago this year the 729ft. Edmund Fitzgerald was headed               downbound in Lake Superior. The storm she encountered forced the Captain  to take a course that took him dangerously close to six mile reef off  Caribou  Island. The ship was twisting and torqueing in the 70 knot winds and 30 to 35ft. seas.
                                   
The “Mighty Fitz” was running for her life toward Whitefish Point and the safety of Whitefish Bay 17 miles away. The “Fitz” had lost its radar in the storm, but the Author M. Anderson, 10  miles behind, was in radio contact and acting as eyes for the stricken ship. The Captain of the Anderson stated he lost sight of the Fitzgerald for four minutes in a violent snow squall. When the screen cleared the Fitzgerald was gone. The ship sank in 525ft of water with no survivors.
 
Now you know why they are called the Witches of November.  

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