M.F. Merrick

a wooden steering wheel of a shipwreck
M.F. Merrick’s wheel sits intact amid fallen rigging. CREDIT: John Scoles.

Vessel Type: Sail: schooner

GPS Location: TBA

Depth: 310 feet

Wreck Length: 137 feet

Beam: 26 feet

Gross Tonnage: 295

Cargo: Furnace sand

Launched: 1863 by John Oades in Clayton, New York

Wrecked: May 17, 1889

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: On May 16, 1889, the schooner M.F. Merrick left Port Austin, Michigan, and sailed north on Lake Huron with a cargo of sand. The spring waters were still ice cold, and a dense fog shrouded the schooner as it passed Presque Isle late that night. Just after midnight, the crew heard the whistle of another vessel. Thirty minutes later, the bow of the steamer R.P. Ranney suddenly appeared out of the fog and smashed into the M.F. Merrick’s side.

Frigid lake water poured into the schooner’s hull as the crew on deck climbed up into the rigging to escape the freezing waves. M.F. Merrick sank quickly, offering little chance for the crew below decks to escape. Five crew members perished. The crew of R.P. Ranney managed to rescue the captain and one seaman.

M.F. Merrick was not seen again until 2011 when it was discovered in 310 feet of water, preserved by the cold, fresh water on which it once served. M.F. Merrick’s discovery was chronicled in a documentary titled “Project Shiphunt.”

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive: http://greatlakeships.org/2896889/data?n=31

a diver shines a light on a shipwreck
A technical diver shines light on the upright schooner M.F. Merrick. Photo: John Janzen
a view inside a shipwreck
View inside the cargo hold of M.F. Merrick. The schooner’s sand cargo and two burbot are visible. Photo: John Janzen
a diver swims toward a shipwreck
A diver approaches the bow of the sunken wooden schooner M.F. Merrick. CREDIT: John Scoles.
a diver shines a light on a shipwreck
A technical diver shines light on the upright schooner M.F. Merrick. Photo: John Janzen