Book review: Lake Erie Technical Wreck Diving Guide

Explore a collection of pristine wrecks in a little-known part of the world

Author: Pat
14th December 2019

Lake Erie Technical Wreck Diving Guide

The latest guidebook from Dived Up publications takes the reader on a series of cold water technical wreck dives in Lake Erie.

Which came first, the diver or the dive guide? It’s an apt conundrum for diving in little-known waters such as the Great Lakes. How would we know to dive Lake Erie if we didn’t have Dived Up’s new book to recommend it in the first place…

Tales from a period when America was growing at speed and trade was booming

…note I only say unknown because Lake Erie probably isn’t well known to most UK divers. If you’re as ignorant as I was, you’ll be interested to learn it’s the fourth (of five) largest of the Great Lakes bordering the USA and Canada – massive bodies of fresh water formed of mountain run-off that have been plied for centuries by trading ships of all shapes of sizes.

Being such huge bodies of water (almost inland seas, really) the Great Lakes are particularly prone to unpredictable weather including gales, high winds, waves and the rest. Throw mist and fog into the mix and unsurprisingly a huge number of ships have foundered over the centuries in squalls, collisions and fires – and often without trace.

This new book by technical diver Erik Petkovic tells a number of these different shipwreck stories, most dating from the period in the late 19th century when America was growing at speed and trade in food and materials was booming. Each is meticulously researched, which in itself is no mean feat: Petkovic has carefully drawn conclusions on several unknown wrecks, based on ancient newspaper clippings and local news archives.

Vessels in the spotlight vary from sailing ships to paddle steamers to barges to freighters. The stories of their demise – including the human tragedies – are all recounted here in as much detail as the author could uncover. The book is interesting enough on those terms, but of course the attraction for us is diving them. To see them yourself will require technical training given the cold water, low visibility, busy shipping lanes and of course, depth of these wrecks.

I found myself strangely absorbed by the stories as they unfolded, and despite the challenging conditions there are some truly eye-catching images in the book. The cold, fresh water and inaccessibility to divers has helped preserve many of the ships in amazing condition. It’s eerie (excuse pun) to see a ship’s helm still in place, let alone the masts still standing upright, as they are on the schooner Dunkirk. The latter still has the figurehead in place!

Taken together, the stories in this book paint a fascinating picture of two centuries in the life of the North American continent. They’re also a page-turning collection of adventures from a part of the world little-known to UK divers. Even if you have no intention of visiting them, it’s well worth diving into Erik Petkovic’s tales of the shipwrecks of Lake Erie.

Lake Erie Technical Wreck Diving Guide is priced £19.95, and is published in softback by Dived Up Publications. For more information call + 44 (0)1865 424702 or visit ISBN 978-1-909455-27-6

Lake Erie Technical Wreck Diving Guide

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