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New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck

DigiTrad:
BACK HOME IN DERRY
THE EDMUND FITZGERALD
THE NERVOUS WRECK OF THE EDNA FITZGERALD


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michaelr 20 May 06 - 01:50 PM
catspaw49 20 May 06 - 02:21 PM
Clinton Hammond 20 May 06 - 02:22 PM
Peace 20 May 06 - 02:45 PM
catspaw49 20 May 06 - 02:52 PM
Peace 20 May 06 - 02:57 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 20 May 06 - 03:30 PM
DonMeixner 21 May 06 - 11:23 AM
catspaw49 21 May 06 - 11:48 AM
Franz S. 21 May 06 - 12:07 PM
Franz S. 21 May 06 - 12:23 PM
kendall 21 May 06 - 12:28 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 21 May 06 - 01:05 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 21 May 06 - 01:14 PM
Franz S. 21 May 06 - 02:49 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 21 May 06 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Chris 25 May 06 - 12:09 AM
catspaw49 25 May 06 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,chris_1972 08 Feb 07 - 03:15 PM
Ref 08 Feb 07 - 06:31 PM
kendall 09 Feb 07 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,pattyClink 09 Feb 07 - 10:05 AM
Uncle Phil 11 Feb 07 - 12:04 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Feb 07 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,TV17.org 28 Feb 07 - 03:12 AM
GUEST,pattyClink 28 Feb 07 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,News Dude... 29 Oct 10 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,mg 29 Oct 10 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Oct 10 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Oct 10 - 06:43 PM
catspaw49 29 Oct 10 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Oct 10 - 10:27 AM
catspaw49 30 Oct 10 - 08:41 PM
JohnInKansas 31 Oct 10 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,leeneia 31 Oct 10 - 07:35 PM
Mark Clark 01 Nov 10 - 02:39 AM
catspaw49 01 Nov 10 - 07:01 AM
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Subject: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: michaelr
Date: 20 May 06 - 01:50 PM

Story here.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:21 PM

"Contributed" being the operative word there......

The Fitz had lost radar and it's pretty likely that this lack of navigational aid in a truly horrendous storm caused her to bottom off Caribou Island. Just after that McSorley made reference to his "rails" being down. A grounding would flex the hull in such a way as to cause this as well as opening up the bottom.

The Fitzgerald had massive pumping capabilities but she began to take on a list and was riding very low. McSorley's last report was that they were "holding their own" about 17 miles off Whitefish Point. The Arthur M. Anderson reported she "went missing" from their radar shortly thereafter.

I'm sure that the following seas from the storm were far worse than anything ANYONE had seen since about 1913 and a monster wave probably smashed into the back of the wheelhouse as the bow was digging deep and that was the end of the "Big Fitz." As she is in two pieces with a considerable section missing entirely, it is hard for anyone to say for sure but what I have written here is the most accepted version of the loss.

The size of the storm and waves have now been updated but it changes little as the effect of the running sea and wind has always been a factor in reasonable accounts.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:22 PM

Does it really matter exactly why at this point?


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Peace
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:45 PM

"as the effect of the running sea and wind has always been a factor in reasonable accounts."

Serious question: What is meant by the term 'running sea'?


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:52 PM

Directionality forcing the boat in a specific direction as you get with heavy winds blowing over an expanse of water.

Close enugh? (:<))

In the case of the FItzgerald, both wind and waves were coming at such an increased speed that its probable that McSorley never realized just how bad things were. Most doubt he knew how much water they were taking on becasue the huge pumps actually almost kept up.

There was one investigation which blamed the crew and the hatch covers but most of that was discredited upon finding the wreck.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Peace
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:57 PM

Thank you.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:30 PM

The Arthur Anderson (behind him and closer to the downbound trackline)noted he possily went over Caribou island shoal which has a depth of thirty six feet (six fathom shoal) since the ship was drawing twenty six feet and the waves were at the time at least fifteen to twenty do the math. The shoal was actually off position on the chart (corrected on later editions) by at least half a mile. He noted railings parted on deck around that time; and i'm sure he knew he had touched bottom, but would not have said anything on the radio. I am convinced he suffered damage that was aggravated by the waves, and that was the ultimate cause of her sinking.

Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: DonMeixner
Date: 21 May 06 - 11:23 AM

All together too many things may have contributed to the sinking of the Fitz to prove any one thing was responsible. If I had to guess based on what I saw on the history channel and what I know of boats I'd suspect two things.

If she hit bottom hard enough to hog the hull off Caribou Island her keel was compromised if not broken. Then traveling in a following sea
with close wave caps and a deep trough (A common enough cause of sinkings in The Great Lakes) the unsupported mid section would flex the other way and crack the ship through the middle.

No matter the pumping ability this probably wouldn't be survivable.

Don


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 May 06 - 11:48 AM

Dave.....The only reason I question exactly how much McSorley knew is that he had opportunity to beach the Fitzgerald but elected to try to make Whitefish Point. On the other hand, I know too that there were several factors that would have made running for a beaching a dicey proposition.

Probably the thing (outside of the song) that makes the sinking such a source of interest all these years later is the silence of any sort of alarm from McSorley and the Fitzgerald.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Franz S.
Date: 21 May 06 - 12:07 PM

From National Geographic, Vol. XL, No. 1 (July, 1921) pp. 131-32:
"HEAVY GALES UNKNOWN ON LAKE SUPERIOR


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Franz S.
Date: 21 May 06 - 12:23 PM

Sorry, lost most of that post.

"Heavy gales can neither continue nor develop on Lake Superior, as shown by the fact that the maximum wind velocities seldom exceed 40 miles an hour....no reasonably staunch passenger steamer has ever been sunk on Lake Superior by reason of wind or waves, though occasionally some of the large freight carriers, when the shore and reefs are shrouded in a fall snow-storm, have been wrecked within the narrowing outlet of the lake; and again, on very rare occasions, an oreboat, with decks awash, carrying an immense tonnage in its long, steel hull, has developed a structural weakness in a rolling sea and gone like a plummet to the bottom."


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: kendall
Date: 21 May 06 - 12:28 PM

I think she was way overloaded. Greed sunk the Fitz.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 21 May 06 - 01:05 PM

Spaw, There was nowhere he could have beached her with any safety on that shoreline. McSorley was on the radio several times to the Arthur M Anderson, and you could tell from his voice he knew more than he was saying. The second mate on the Arthur M Anderson was convinced he hit bottom at six fathom shoal. The Captain of the Arthur M Anderson hinted that she was close to that shoal during the night in an interview on television. (very few people would make such an allegation when it would be seen to criticize McSorley at the time of his death) When she broke up it happened so fast they would have lost power to all the radios (all up in the forward section) and gone down in seconds.

I doubt she was overloaded Kendall; but all those years of fast loading and ballasting has been known to weaken hull structures on other ships, so it could have been a factor in her demise.

Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 21 May 06 - 01:14 PM

Franz S, There is plenty of historical data of several vessels being lost during storms on the Great Lakes. I have spent most of my life sailing Merchant Ships up and down the Seaway. I assure you it does and can happen.

Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Franz S.
Date: 21 May 06 - 02:49 PM

Dave,

I had no doubt. I just happened to be reading that old Nationnal Geographic yesterday, and thought it a fine example of the lunatic stuff that gets printed as authoritative. I think the author was trying to push tourism.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 21 May 06 - 06:45 PM

Lake Superior and Northern Michigan/Lake Huron can be one of the most difficult places to sail on. The wind is being funneled by cliffs and shorelines causing sudden wind shears, and steep short period confused waves. I have seen some experienced sailors get beaten around in these conditions. (I'm sure Spaw knows what i'm talking about here)

I am surprised that National Geographic printed that Franz S, they usually research their source material quite well. People forget that the science of meteorology is quite a young science. I wrote an article on Continental Shelf Break (that won a prize)and yet it was not even considered a fact, until modern wave indicator buoys were placed along the Continental shelves for oil and gas exploration in the early seventies. The results of these measurements indicated the waves and swells are higher and more likely to be confused than the open ocean. This fact was recorded for five hundred years in log books and experiences of many countries mariners but not accepted as true until recently.

Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,Chris
Date: 25 May 06 - 12:09 AM

With all the technological things we have at our fingertips, you know someone will develop something to take a picture of the remains of the ship that is buried under the mud to look for signifigant bottom damage due to grounding...

I can not fathom the massive shock and evergy it took to sink her, with a ship that size.. Tragic.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 May 06 - 12:38 PM

Sorry Dave, but I lost track of this thread (old age) but I really appreciate and respect your views as one who has "been there."

I just find it interesting I guess that McSorley made such little use of the Anderson travelling just behind, not that it would have done any real good. I would be willing to bet that the pilot house was already submerged before they realized she was going down. I have heard others speculate the same thing but in the end I believe all that could be found out has been found out and the rest no longer matters.

If there is one thing that stands out perhaps it has to do with Kendall's "greed" statement. The Fitz wasn't overloaded but like so many before her she was lost making that one last trip before weather closed the Lakes to shipping. I suppose you can attribute that to greed but I really think it is the same sort of thing that caused the Challenger and Columbia shuttle losses, a kind of arrogance or maybe just playing the odds. The list of ships lost over the years in the early "gales of November" is long but if you think how many were not it seems but a tiny percentage. The Anderson made it as did numerous others that found safe harbor behind Whitefish Point but some combination of circumstance or fate conspired to come together that day to kill 29 men.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,chris_1972
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 03:15 PM

i frankly find the whole thing chilling and sad at the same time. even gordon lightfoot's song is haunting.as a man from the south i didn't know of such things in the northern u.s.a.my gosh, mcsorley's voice on tape talking to the anderson? i want to hear this tape if it is available.the whole thing is sad and tragic and i hope all those 29 souls will find their peace among that terrible tragedy in 1975 that will live forever.......


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Ref
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 06:31 PM

I'm also glad to hear from Dave. I used to think "Lakes" shipping was kind of fraudulent compared to, say, the North atlantic. Not true. It's very dangerous water, particularly in those long, shallow draft ships designed for maximum cargo rather than safety. John McPhee, in his latest book, recounts how the Lakes captains are respected at the international ship-handling school in Switzerland.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: kendall
Date: 09 Feb 07 - 08:05 AM

How do we know she wasn't overloaded?


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 09 Feb 07 - 10:05 AM

McSorley's calm 'we are holding our own' is a kind of proof that the end came in a sudden freak event like the ship breaking in a deep trough, as has been said above.

Overload seems like one of those things easy to calculate by the investigation team. If they didn't find it a cause, I don't have a big reason to doubt it.

Chris, I don't know about the audiotape, I think the various videos and stuff is available through the
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum / Fitz subpage

I recall reading a play '10 November' which got into an issue regarding one of the unmanned lights along the shore being out of repair.   Was this ever discounted fully as a contributing cause? If radar was not working, then a missing light could have led to miscalculation bringing them too close to the shoal.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 11 Feb 07 - 12:04 PM

A bit off topic, but this thread started me surfing the web to read about the Edmund Fitzgerald. A couple things are puzzle me.

Web sites describe the Fitz as an iron ore carrier. Does a bulk carrier like the Fitz carry just one kind of cargo? If not, what cargo would she carry on the return trip? The American Steamship Company site lists iron ore pellets, limestone aggregate, eastern coal, and western coal as cargo. Seems like there would be a limited need for limestone aggregate at the mines and, besides, the tonnage they list for limestone is only a fraction of the tonnage for iron ore. Carrying eastern coal to the source of western coal seems pointless. Making the return trip in ballast without a cargo is an option, I suppose.

Does overloading a bulk carrier like the Fitz make sense? The ships are designed to always make the same trip through the Soo locks, the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, and to dock broadside – fully loaded and without bottoming out. If you overload the ship you run the risk of drawing more water than the locks, channels, and ports allow. It's also not clear where you would put extra cargo once the ship is fully loaded, assuming the ship is designed to travel fully loaded on each trip anyway.

It also seems curious that bulk coal carriers are oil-fired, but there must be strong economic and/or environmental reasons. Otherwise they'd all be coal-fired.

Pardon the thread drift and my ignorance about this topic. The Great Lakes are a long way from the southern Great Plains where I'm sitting this morning.
- Phil


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Feb 07 - 06:15 PM

"It also seems curious that bulk coal carriers are oil-fired, but there must be strong economic and/or environmental reasons"

You don't need people to shovel oil.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,TV17.org
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 03:12 AM

We are work on new information about the Fitz. See the web sit for pictures, videos and reports at www.ssedmundfitzgerald.com
thanks
TV17.org


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 10:15 AM

The website looks very nice, but no new information, and the link which started this thread also leads nowhere. I'm starting to feel jerked around. If there is news, let's have it, otherwise, stow the hype.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,News Dude...
Date: 29 Oct 10 - 12:06 PM

I've always wondered about the Edmund Fitzgerald and her sinking...I know it may sound crazy, but the weekend she went down I had been tracking news reports of sightings of strange lights which appeared to move from the United States south west and ended up over Michigan. Could they have been UFO's searching for the heavy load of iron ore...


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 29 Oct 10 - 12:51 PM

Does anyone know much about who it was named after? I read it was named after the insurance or finance person involved in hre building. His father apparently was a ship captain or something, but I don't think his name was Edmund. Anyway, this name Edmund Fitzgerald is a name that comes up in my genealogy research. It is not a wholly unusual name, but then it is not that common either. mg


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Oct 10 - 06:39 PM

Drat you people, now I can't get the wreck off my mind. I'm supposed to be paying the bills!

Here's some info from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, which seems to be a legitimate.

"All 29 officers and crew, including a Great Lakes Maritime Academy cadet, went down with the ship, which lies broken in two sections in 530 feet of water. Surveyed by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1976 using the U.S. Navy CURV III system, the wreckage consisted of an upright bow section, approximately 275 feet long and an inverted stern section, about 253 feet long, and a debris field comprised of the rest of the hull in between. Both sections lie within 170 feet of each other."

So the ship's in 530 of water, not on a shoal.

The ship was 729 feet long. 275 feet of the bow survived and 253 of the stern. 729 minus 275 minus 253 = 201 feet. The ship sank because something destroyed 201 feet of its middle, which now lies in deep water in the form os debris.

The bow is right side up and the stern is upside down. Is that a clue?

Was it twisted by wave trains which struck it from different directions ? Was there a rupture or explosion?

I'll put the link to the site in the next post. The pics make it clear that this was a long, long ship. Its midsection looks unstable to me.

They talk a lot about the hatch covers, but I figure, if the holds were full of taconite pellets, what difference would water make by filling a small amount of void space between the balls? (I believe a taconite pellet is a small black ball abt the size of a malted-milk ball. They would pack well.)

I think what sank this ship was the action of wave trains twisting that long, long middle section.

As others have said, the lakes are famous for their violence and unpredicatability.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Oct 10 - 06:43 PM

Here's the URL for that site.


http://www.mhsd.org/fleet/O/On-Columbia/fitz/default.htm

How can you not trust a guy with a name like Gene Onchulenko?
==========
mg - somewhere on the net I just read that the ship was named for the chairman of the Northwestern Mutual LIfe Insurance Co. This is a huge outfit, with HQ in Milwaukee. You ought to be able to find out more about him.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Oct 10 - 08:12 PM

"So the ship's in 530 of water, not on a shoal.".........Huh? Who or what gave you the idea it was lying on a shoal?

And yes, the Fitz was named the Northwestern President and Chairman of the Board, Edmund Fitzgerald, whose father had been a lake captain.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 10:27 AM

This came up at dinner last night. Turns out my dear husband has read 3 books on this topic.

He said the ship did hit a shoal, but some time before its wreck, something like 4 hours before. They reported a 'bump' at the time.
(Not the exact words, of course.)

Later, in deep water, the Fitzgerald encountered a train of big waves whose wavelength was about that of the ship. When one wave crest lifted the bow, another lifted the stern, and the middle section, over a trough and weakened bt the earlier collision, gave way.

Experts studied that part of the lake and said that waves with a length like that were possible.

I have to agree with Kendall that if the ship had not been carrying extra weight, it might not have hit the shoal. Or it might have scraped more gently and the damage might have been less.

The DH thinks it was madness that they were on the lake at all.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 08:41 PM

Your DH must have read all the same stuff I have as that is very much the same story I told above. She may have "shoaled" or bottomed off Caribou and may well have made Whitefish Bay and safety as she almost did had it not been for the storm creating the strong following sea. Many have suspected that when McSorley reported the rails down it was a clue that the hull had been twisted and weakened off Caribou as the report came in about the amount of time it would have taken for the effect to be noticed. Whether or not she had been opened up might not even be relevant as the hatch clamps, although properly down upon leaving port, would have been loosened by this same twisting/hogging of the hull allowing water to come in that way as well.

There has never been any evidence at all that the Fitz was overloaded nor has it ever been estimated she was overloaded by the various investigating bodies. The greed as someone mentioned above was in making that late run but as I said above also, late runs were commonplace because the odds, even with all the late season storms and sinkings over the years, were still good. And although bad weather was not uncommon, the meeting of three weather systems as it happened was unusual but again not unknown.

Making the tragedy most alluring is the lack of any final "Mayday" transmission. Here again I think the sudden disappearance off the radar with no message from the Fitz would indicate the ship had probably been driven down bow first and the forward location of the Lakes freighter wheelhouse meant she was underwater before anyone in her could react.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 31 Oct 10 - 03:58 PM

(I believe a taconite pellet is a small black ball abt the size of a malted-milk ball. They would pack well.)

Even if "perfectly packed" in hexagonal close packed or body centered cubic configuration, identical spheres cannot occupy more than 74% of the total volume. (Ref for example See the paragraph right after equation 5.)

While I'd by no means assert that water taken on was a significant effect in this sinking, at least 30% of the hold volume would be available to infiltration unless someone placed the "balls" perfectly (one at a time by hand?). Since water would be significantly less dense than the ore balls, an increase of gross load by perhaps ~10% (+/-?) would not be impossible by taking on water.

Any likely shape other than perfectly spherical (e.g. like a charcoal bisquit?) probably would leave even more available free space in the hold, even if it "looked like" it was very densely filled.

John


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Oct 10 - 07:35 PM

Thanks, John and spaw.


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 02:39 AM

Back in '03 I posted a tale of Edmund Fitzgerald and my late father. Readers here may enjoy it too.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: New clues to Edmund Fitzgerald wreck
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 07:01 AM

Damn Mark......That's a wonderful story and reminds me of one of my own............

Spaw


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