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23 hours ago

S.S. Keewatin

How Observation and Curiosity Saved Many Sailors' Lives

Captain Charles Edward "Eddie" Robinson sailed the Great Lakes for many years. Some of the 'ol stories mention him. While sailing the DONNACONA, the 'Superior Shoal' was discovered prior to the official hydrographic survey.

"It was due to Captain Robinson's powers of observation and deduction, according to the News-Chronicle, that a clue was found which might provide the explanation of some of Lake Superior's greatest mysteries - the disappearance of a number of ships, like the steamer BANNOCKBURN, which sailed from Port Arthur with a cargo of grain about 1902 and vanished without even so much trace as a drifting life preserver, boat or other equipment which could be identified. Apparently the ship simply was swallowed up by Lake Superior with everything and everyone aboard.

From the time Lake Superior was first mapped, the north middle lake Superior was supposed to be deep water. It is off the regular course of ships but sometimes in the late Fall or at other times when it has been found advisable to seek shelter on the North Shore, ships have run through it.

During his years as master of the DONNACONA, Captain Robinson noticed the ship's habit of vibrating when running in shallow waters, as in the rivers connecting the lakes. On one of his early trips across Superior, he was puzzled by this vibration in what the charts showed as deep water. As he grew more and more familiar with the behaviour of the ship, he became convinced that there must be a shoal in this north central part of Lake Superior.

As a result, investigations were made and a shoal actually was found. On the bottom in this area, moreover, were seen pieces of wreckage which would indicate that it had become the graveyard of various ships. Apparently disaster developed only in stormy weather, when the ships ere so lowered in the troughs of a sea as to pound on the bottom and be broken up.

As for Captain Robinson, the News-Chronicle concludes, his powers of observation and his desire to get an explanation when his ship began to vibrate at the same place on each trip down Lake Superior made him a real benefactor. It has probably saved ships an lives- including, possibly his own."

Source: "Ships Lost Without a Trace in Lake Superior", The Ottawa Journal, January 1, 1948, page 4 (Captain Robinson had passed a few days before which is the reason for the story on this date.)

He was well-acclaimed for sailing the LEMOYNE on August 6, 1932 at the 4th Welland Ship Canal Inaugural Ceremony as seen in this short video.
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