Mike and Georgann Wachter are well known as the authors of Erie Wrecks and Lights, Erie Wrecks East, and Erie Wrecks West.
They have been diving around the world since the mid 1970’s. However, nowhere else in the world have they discovered the kind of pristine and perfectly preserved shipwrecks that lie in the fresh waters of the Great Lakes. As their passion for shipwrecks grew, they began the extensive research exhibited in the Erie Wrecks books. This has resulted in the discovery or rediscovery of over 25 wreck sites. What was once a part time hobby became a full time investigation of the myths and realities behind the thousands of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. In addition to their books, Mike and Georgann have published numerous magazine articles, and are actively involved in creating diver access to and preserving Great Lakes maritime history. Both have been active in the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST) where Mike is past president and Georgann has been treasurer. Under Mike’s tenure 6 shipwrecks in Ohio waters were moored for divers. They serve actively in several dive clubs, including the Bay Area Divers (BAD) and Lake Erie Wreck Divers.
Georgann is an accomplished researcher who is sought after as a speaker on sport diving, Great Lakes shipwrecks, and aquatic life. Her marine artwork has been exhibited around the Great Lakes. Mike makes his living as a management consultant and public speaker. For both Georgann and Mike, their first love is shipwreck diving. The collaboration of Georgann’s love of research and Mike’s love of story telling provides the fuel for the Erie Wrecks series. More information is available on their web site; Lake Erie Shipwrecks
Sidewheel Treasure and Tragedy
On the open waters of the Great Lakes, sidewheel steamer mishaps account for 6 of the 10 worst loss of life disasters. These accidents escalated in severity, from the beaching of the Walk-in-the-Water in Lake Erie, to the sinking of the Lady Elgin on Lake Michigan.
Many of these were true treasure ships, since they carried gold and the personal possessions of hundreds of immigrants. Highlights of disaster causes, paddle wheel engines, and comparisons of the wrecks on the bottom to current museum sidewheelers completes this talk.