I love diving. And I love shipwrecks.
Each wreck has a story, from the people who built the ship, to those who worked on it, what type of cargo and then of course its fateful demise.
The world’s ocean floor is littered with aproximately 3 million shipwrecks according to the United Nations. But one of the most captivating in crystal clear waters is at the bottom of Big Tub Harbour off the shores of Tobermory, Ontario, Canada.
Shimmering in the clear and very cold, blue water just twenty feet below the surface lies the Sweepstakes, a 19th century boat.
I will be out my element from the warm Caribbean oceans to braving the cold Ontario waters. I’m going to discover and dive The Sweepstakes…
What type of boat was The Sweepstakes?
- Sweepstakes was a Great Lakes Schooner.
- She was built in 1867 in Burlington Ontario.
- Weighing 218 gross tonnes, Sweepstakes was 119′ long with a 23′ beam and a 10′ depth of hold.
What caused it to sink?
- The Sweepstakes sustained hull damage on shoals near Cove Island, off shore of Tobermory when hauling coal late in the summer of 1885.
- She was towed to the head of Big Tub Harbour to be repaired in September of 1885
- Damage was too extensive to be repaired. Sweepstakes was stripped of anything of value before sinking where she lies.
- Sweepstakes lies in about 18′ of water approximately 150′ from the head of Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory.
- Her hull is still intact and is considered one of the best preserved 19th-century great lakes schooners to ever be discovered.
- You may notice metal bars throughout the inside of her hull, these have been installed by Parks Canada to reinforce the hull and deck.
- Despite sinking in 1885, Sweepstakes still holds an attraction for divers and tourists in the Fathom Five National Marine Park
- Diver’s Den is a Padi certified dive shop offering charters to Sweepstakes
- Level: Novice
- Depth: 20 ft (7 m)
- Water conditions: acalmer and warmer than most other sites in Ontario.
- As can be seen in the pictures present, the wreck is in shallow, clear and protected water
- Listed as one of the top ten wrecks in the world to dive,
You don’t scuba dive?
- Tour boats in Tobermory offer glass bottom tours and other cruises to see the wreck.
- Bruce Anchor Cruises offer several different glass bottom cruises along Lake Huron
- Blue Heron Company – offer tours as well to Flowerpot Island and to the wreck.