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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Night The Fitz Went Down

Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
Music and lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot
"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee."
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty,
that good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
when the "Gales of November" came early.
The ship was the pride of the American side
coming back from some mill in Wisconsin.
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
with a crew and good captain well seasoned,
concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
when they left fully loaded for Cleveland.
And later that night when the ship's bell rang,
could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?
The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
and a wave broke over the railing.
And ev'ry man knew, as the captain did too
'twas the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
when the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind.
When suppertime came the old cook came on deck sayin'.
"Fellas, it's too rough t'feed ya."At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in; he said"........
It’s been some 37 years since one of Lake Superior's great unsolved mysteries. On November 10, 1975, a "perfect storm" over Lake Superior sank the ore carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald. Many theories have been expressed on the cause of this catastrophe, one widely held but rarely spoken reason has never been published -- until now. In The Night The Fitz Went Down, as the last living captain of an ore boat that also sailed through the worst of that storm, Captain Dudley Paquette relates his harrowing memoir of those hours leading up to the Fitzgerald wreck and of the dangerous search afterward. In the process, the reader gains deep insight into the mind of Great Lakes captains and what might have been the situation in the wheelhouse of the Fitzgerald as the big lake crashed across the decks. The real cause of the wreck might finally be known.
The Night The Fitz Went Down is 192 page paperback book about the ship, and one of the most recent books about the Fitz's sinking. This book is coauthored by a captain who was on Lake Superior the night the Fitz went down, and he shares personal memories of that night, and what he theorizes took place. It is very biographical about Captain Paquette, so some may find this book off-subject. Actually I think it was spot on. I’ve never been on the ocean nor an inland sea like Superior. Actually being a canoe guy all my life any lake much bigger than a pond tends to make me nervous. I also like mysteries. Thus, this book was both interesting and scary to me..... Oh and I always loved Lightfoots story song.


Montanagirl said...

I bet that would be an interesting read! I've always like Gordon Lightfoot. Been a long time since I've heard or listened to any of his music.

Loree Huebner said...

Living near Lake Michigan, and my best friends dad was a captain on one of those big ore boats - AND his boat was on the lake at the time the EFG sank - I remember that incident well.

The book sounds good.

I always get the chills when I hear that Gordon Lightfoot song...

NCmountainwoman said...

My husband was Medical Director at Northwestern Mutual Life from the late '80s until 2006. Prior to moving to Milwaukee I knew only the Gordon Lightfoot song about the Edmund Fitzgerald and little else. Imagine my surprise when we toured the old hallways and came upon Edmund Fitzgerald's (the man) portrait. Northwestern owned the ship and named it in honor of the Chairman and CEO.

Ms Sparrow said...

I think that sinking will haunt people for ages to come. Mysteries of the sea are always hard to solve. Perhaps that's why we have been so enthralled with the information coming forth about the Titanic's wreck

Far Side of Fifty said...

Have you been to The Great Shipwrecks Museum at Whitefish? I sure would like to go there someday:)