Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dead in the Water

The Great Lakes for years have served as a graveyard for the many unfortunate sailing vessels that have been lost as they traveled on these waters. 

Each year many violent storms hit the lakes making these waters as unpredictable and deadly as the earth’s oceans. 

One ship that was a victim of a particularly bad storm was the steamship "Hudson". In its time it was the pride of its captain and its’ crew. It sank, taking all hands on board while sailing Lake Superior in September of 1901.

After the Hudson was lost it started to appear as a ghost ship. It is seen only on the anniversary of when it sank. 

One encounter with this ghost ship in the 1940s has been told so often it is known throughout the region. 

The steamship Hudson is seen at Keeweenaw Peninsula, which is the last point of land in upper Michigan before Lake Superior’s waves take command of the view.

A captain of a tugboat, which had been refitted as a fishing boat was sailing passed Keeweenaw point just as a thick bank of fog rolled in. Despite this the tug was making good progress--that was until the mist became so thick the skipper and his crew could not see further than five feet in front of them. 

Within minutes the captain was startled to see a large ship heading toward the side of his boat. His sharp turn of the wheel was the only thing that saved his vessel from a deadly collision.

Angry that the larger ship had not signaled in some way they were in the area the captain drew his tug alongside the larger steamer. 

He was surprised to see that this ship was very old, as he boarded he wondered at the rust and slimy mud that covered every surface. He heard no motors running-- it appeared the ship was dead in the water. 

He was surprised to see one of the ships smokestacks was cracked in half.

He looked around trying to find the person responsible for the near collision when he spotted a lone dark figure wearing a long oilskin coat. The captain yelled out, “What is the matter with you? You almost cut my ship in two.” 

The figure remained silent but pointed toward a decrepit boathouse further up the deck. The skipper covered the distance quickly anxious to confront the captain.

As he took the boathouse steps two at a time a sense of irrational fear engulfed him. He tried to shake off the feeling that something was terribly wrong. 

He entered the boathouse to see two bone thin figures--one standing at the wheel. Each man stared blankly ahead with dark eyes. The skin on their faces appeared clammy and pale. They both seemed frozen in position.

The tug captain backed away and stammered, "Your ship is a wreck. I don’t know what is keeping you afloat. You almost slammed into my tug."

"What the hell is the matter with you?" 

When he received no reply the captain backed further away and reversed tactics, “Do you need help?”

The man at the wheel slowly looked toward him. A cold chill ran down the captain’s spine as he heard the man reply in a hollow voice, “No”. 

“There is no help for us. We are the wreck of the Hudson and we’ve been at the bottom since our ship sank in 1901. Twenty-four of us died in the ship and we stay at the bottom with her but we have no rest. The devil makes us rise each year on the anniversary of our sinking.”

The man turned back toward the wheel. The captain listened frozen in terror. 

“We are doomed to the end of time. You must quickly leave, now. If you don’t you will be condemned to our fate.” As the captain left the boathouse in a blind run he heard the man call out, “Please, pray for us.”

The captain managed to get back aboard his tug and he ordered his crew to make haste as they left the large steamer behind. 

After this it was said he was never the same. He soon left the water and work he loved. He never returned to sail the Great Lakes again.

Some state this story is just a legend others swear it actually happened. It is never mentioned why the Hudson crew is condemned for eternity.

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