Lake Huron Mystery Tug
Lies Off Michigan Coast
By James Donahue
The tugboat Mary Alice
B sits upright and in almost unblemished condition on the bottom of Lake Huron, not far away from the Village of Port Sanilac,
Michigan, due North of Detroit.
The tug’s sinking
in 1975 remains shrouded in mystery. It sank for no apparent reason while under tow behind a larger tug, the Dolphin I, while
returning from a salvage job in Thunder Bay to Detroit, U.
S. Coast Guard records show.
The wreck’s discovery
by sports divers in 1992 only intensified the mystery. Diver James Stayer of Lexington,
a member of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Exploration Group, said he found open valves on the boat, which indicated to him that
the tug was probably sunk on purpose.
The tug’s owner,
Peter Bill, denied sinking his own boat. He said he never filed to collect an insurance claim and had no reason to have sent
it to the bottom.
Whatever happened, Peter
Bill’s loss in 1975 now appears to be Sanilac County’s gain. The wreck, which lies in 90 feet of water, has become a popular
visiting site for sport divers who come to the area to visit a variety of wrecks off Lake Huron’s
Stayer said the Mary
Alice B appears to have sunk slowly, and settled upright on the bottom. He describes the wreck as “prestine. Even the
wooden wheel is in place in the pilot house. It is the way people envision wrecks,” he said.
Stayer said the only
damage appears to be some broken windows and skylight in the pilot house. Also some doors broke away and now lie alongside
Stayer and other members
of his group located the wreck because of a tip from an area fisherman, who said he got his line hooked on something in the
area. He said he was searching for another lost vessel, the steamer North Star, and thought this might be its location.
He said he was pleasantly
surprised to find a tugboat in such perfect condition.
The tug was originally
named Quintus when built for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1931.