2018-03-15 / Columns

Manitou shipwrecks at NMC

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This week is packed with special days. Today is the Ides of March, Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, and Tuesday is the official first day of Spring.

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With Daylight Savings Time beginning Sunday, everyone seems to be commenting on how late it is staying light. The vernal equinox, also considered to be the first day of spring, marks a time of year when sunrise and sunset are roughly 12 hours apart, increasing as we approach the summer solstice in June to over 15 ½ hours of daylight. Daylight is officially counted as the hours between sunrise and sunset, but our sense of light in the sky – referred to as the break of dawn to the descent of darkness – is much longer. That is over 15 hours now, and increases to almost 21 hours on the longest day of the year.

The Ides of March became notorious in 44 BC with the assassination of Julius Caesar. The death of Caesar made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history as one of the events that marked the transition from the historical period known as the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. It triggered a civil war that, after four years, would result in the rise to sole power of Caesar’s adopted heir Octavian, later known as Augustus.

While we think of the Ides as the 15th of any month, Romans did not number days of a month sequentially from the first through the last day. Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (5th or 7th, depending on the length of the month), the Ides (13th or 15th), and the Kalends (1st of the following month). The Ides occurred near the midpoint, on the 13th for most months, but on the 15th for March, May, July, and October. The Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, reflecting the lunar origin of the Roman calendar.

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“Erin go bragh” is a common salutation on St. Patrick’s Day. We think of it as meaning “Ireland forever,” but the original Irish phrase was “Erin go brách” (or “go bráth”) which translates literally as “Ireland till doomsday.” It’s an expression of loyalty and devotion that appears to have been first Anglicized during the late 18th century Irish rebellion against the British.

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The community was saddened by the death of Omena resident David Kulick on Sunday. David spent many summer vacations in Omena when he was growing up at the home of his grandmother, Hazel Taylor. He and his brother, Chris Verdery, lived year-round in recent years in that same home. David had been a very talented architect, with several high-profile clients. Most of his homes were in Missouri and Wisconsin. He also designed and built “Sandcastle” on Ingalls Bay, now the seasonal home of his brother, Bill Kulick. David was very artistic and, over the years, had painted watercolors of Omena scenes that he loved. Our sympathies go to Chris and Bill. Bill is here this week from his home in Ocean Springs, Ms.

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The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum (GTLM), along with partners the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve, Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, Leelanau Historical Museum and Northport High School, has set course to shed light on local maritime history. Next Thursday, March 22, will be the second of four programs in its Shipwrecks project. The presentation is named, “Shipwrecks of the Manitou Passage.” It will begin at 7 p.m. at NMC’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy. Kim Kelderhouse, curator of the Leelanau Historical Museum, will be the presenter.

The Manitou Passage has long been a popular pathway for vessels in northern Lake Michigan. One of the richest areas in Michigan for shipwreck diving is the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve. It surrounds the North and South Manitou islands and lies next to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Leland. During the heyday of Michigan lumbering, it represented was a booming shipping area. It remains a safe-haven for vessels trying to ride out the storms in the lee of the Islands. There are numerous wrecks in the passage for that reason. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available at the door. Proceeds benefit the GTLM’s Shipwreck Expedition.

The second Northport Shipwreck Expedition is planned for May, and will continue to attempt to locate and document wrecks between Northport Bay and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. A group of Northport Pulic School students will join NMC Water Institute students and staff onboard the R/V Northwestern research vessel for the expedition. Water Institute marine technology laboratory coordinator John Lutchko and Water Institute students joined the expedition last year. Lutchko will return again this year to help coordinate the expedition.

More information on the upcoming programs and the Expedition can be found at the GTLM website, grandtraverselighthouse.com.

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Happy Birthday to Mike Adelson, John Smart, Dennis Colling, Joanne Dalzell, Sarah van Pelt Murphy, Michael Warner, Dereck Huffman, Charlie Phillips, Al Cherne, Sarah Viskochil Lichtel, and Jackie Bojarski.

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Beware the Ides of March, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and Welcome Spring!

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