For those not so privileged to grow up in the Great Lakes, I offer this tidbit of history which is likely of interest to USCGA folks, their USMMA brethren, and Gordon Lightfoot fans. Today marks the 35th anniversary of the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. It is a wreck which has lived on in mythic proportions in the Great Lakes, due in part to Gordon Lightfoot's immensely popular, though wildly inaccurate, song about the event. Nov 10, 1975 - The account of the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald 7:00 AM Weather report from the Fitzgerald. Winds are at 35 knots, waves of ten feet. This is the last weather report that the Edmund Fitzgerald will ever make. 3:15 PM Captain Jesse Cooper, (J.C.) of the S.S. Arthur M. Anderson watches the Fitzgerald round Caribou Island and comments that the Fitzgerald is much closer to Six Fathom Shoal than he would want to be. 3:20 PM Anderson reports winds coming from the Northwest at 43 knots. 3:30 PM Radio transmission between the Fitzgerald and the Anderson: Capt. McSorley: "Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have sustained some topside damage. I have a fence rail laid down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I'm checking down. Will you stay by me til I get to Whitefish?" Capt. Cooper: "Charlie on that Fitzgerald. Do you have your pumps going?" Capt. McSorley: "Yes, both of them 4:10 PM The Fitzgerald radios the Arthur M. Anderson requesting radar assistance for the remainder of the voyage. Fitzgerald: "Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have lost both radars. Can you provide me with radar plots till we reach Whitefish Bay?" Anderson: "Charlie on that, Fitzgerald. We'll keep you advised of position." About 4:39 PM The Fitzgerald cannot pick up the Whitefish Point radio beacon. The Fitzgerald radios the Coast Guard station at Grand Marais on Channel 16. Between 4:30 and 5:00 PM The Edmund Fitzgerald calls for any vessel in the Whitefish Point area regarding information about the beacon and light at Whitefish Point. They receive an answer by the saltwater vessel Avafors that the beacon and the light are not operating. Estimated between 5:30 and 6:00 PM Radio transmission between the sea-going freighter Avafors and the Fitzgerald. Avafors: "Fitzgerald, this is the Avafors. I have the Whitefish light now but still am receiving no beacon. Over." Fitzgerald: "I'm very glad to hear it." Avafors: "The wind is really howling down here. What are the conditions where you are?" Fitzgerald: (Undiscernable shouts heard by the Avafors.) "DON'T LET NOBODY ON DECK!" Avafors: "What's that, Fitzgerald? Unclear. Over." Fitzgerald: "I have a bad list, lost both radars. And am taking heavy seas over the deck. One of the worst seas I've ever been in." Avafors: "If I'm correct, you have two radars." Fitzgerald: "They're both gone." Sometime around 7:00 PM The Anderson, trailing the Fitzgerald, is struck by two huge waves that put water on the ship, 35 feet above the water line. The waves hit with enough force to push the starboard lifeboat down, damaging the bottom. Both waves move onward in the direction of the Fitzgerald. 7:10 PM Radio transmission between the Anderson and the Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald is still being followed by the Arthur M. Anderson. They are about 10 miles behind the Fitzgerald. Anderson: "Fitzgerald, this is the Anderson. Have you checked down?" Fitzgerald: "Yes we have." Anderson: "Fitzgerald, we are about 10 miles behind you, and gaining about 1 1/2 miles per hour. Fitzgerald, there is a target 19 miles ahead of us. So the target would be 9 miles on ahead of you." Fitzgerald: "Well, am I going to clear?" Anderson: "Yes. He is going to pass to the west of you." Fitzgerald: "Well, fine." Anderson: "By the way, Fitzgerald, how are you making out with your problem?" Fitzgerald: "We are holding our own." Anderson: "Okay, fine. I'll be talking to you later." Shortly after that transmission, the Fitzgerald entered a squall and was obscured from the Anderson's view and radar. When the squall cleared, there was no sign of the Fitzgerald. She would not be seen again until the wreck was located on November 17th in 500 feet of water. The cause of the sinking, despite official findings, is still a subject of vigorous debate. Broken hatch seals, rogue waves, and leakage from a suspected bottoming-out on Six Fathom Shoal are the among the best-held causes. Whatever the cause, every November 10th the Great Lakes airwaves are filled with Gordon Lightfoot's haunting account of the loss of 29 hands aboard the "Big Fitz." Here's a salute to the brave Mariners who ply the inland seas--the "shining, big-sea water" of Hiawatha--and to the courageous Coast Guardsmen who come to their aid in times of peril.