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Great Lakes Now Presents

Episode 1002: Ships and Shipwrecks

Come aboard a tugboat that has delivered mail to boats on the Great Lakes since 1874, learn about life on a Great Lakes freighter, and dive into some incredible shipwrecks in the Great Lakes’ only national marine sanctuary.

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Ask a Freighter Captain

Ever wondered what life on a ship is like? Great Lakes Now is collecting your questions to ask freighter captains, and we’ll try to get them answered.

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If you've ever wondered about the Great Lakes or life in the region, send our team your question. If we can answer it, we might loop it into our coverage so others can learn, too.

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Ships and Shipwrecks Episode 1002

In the second episode of the Great Lakes Now monthly show, come aboard a boat that delivers mail to ships on the Great Lakes. Learn about life on a Great Lakes freighter, and dive into some incredible shipwrecks that you don’t necessarily need a scuba tank to see in the Great Lakes’ only national marine sanctuary.

WHERE WE TAKE YOU THIS MONTH



 

Have a question about the Great Lakes or life in the region?

Ask Great Lakes Now, and if we can answer it, we might loop it into our coverage so others can learn too.

Submit Your Question

 

When to Watch?

Check your local station for when Great Lakes Now is on in your area.

Watch Live on DPTV

Tuesday, December 29 at 7:30 PM

STATIONS CARRYING THE SERIES


 

DPTV
Detroit, Michigan

WEAO
Akron, Ohio

WNEO-TV
Alliance, Ohio

WCML-TV
Alpena, Michigan

WDCP-TV
Bad Axe, Michigan

BCTV
Bay County, Michigan

WBGU-TV
Bowling Green, Ohio

WNED-TV
Buffalo, New York

WCMV-TV
Cadillac, Michigan

WTTW-TV
Chicago, Illinois

WVIZ-TV
Cleveland, Ohio

WKAR-TV
East Lansing, Michigan

WQLN-TV
Erie, Pennsylvania

WCMZ-TV
Flint, Michigan

WGVU-TV
Grand Rapids, Michigan

WPNE-TV
Green Bay, Wisconsin

WGVK-TV
Kalamazoo, Michigan

WHLA-TV
La Crosse, Wisconsin

WHA-TV
Madison, Wisconsin

WNMU-TV
Marquette, Michigan

WHWC-TV
Menomonie-Eau Claire, Wisconsin

WMVS-TV
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

WCMU-TV
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

WLEF-TV
Park Falls, Wisconsin

WNIT-TV
South Bend, Indiana

WCNY-TV
Syracuse, New York

WGTE-TV
Toledo, Ohio

WDCQ-TV
University Center, Michigan

WNPI-TV
Watertown, New York for Ontario signal

WPBS-TV
Watertown, New York for U.S. signal

WHRM-TV
Wausau, Wisconsin

This Month on Great Lakes Now

Click the tabs to read descriptions of each feature in Episode 2.

You’ve Got Mail

SEGMENT 1 | ABOARD THE J.W. WESTCOTT, DETROIT RIVER

Come aboard the tugboat that delivers to Great Lakes freighters 


This segment won First Place in Feature Reporting in the Society of Professional Journalists – metro Detroit chapter 2020 contest, received an Award of Merit – Documentary Short, Award of Recognition – Concept, and Award of Recognition – Creativity/Originality from the Impact Doc Awards, and was recognized in the video presentation category by the Michigan Press Association.


Since 1874, this family-owned company has made deliveries to commercial ships on the Detroit River. Great Lakes Now Host Ward Detwiler goes aboard the J.W. Westcott II while mail and crew get to today’s passing freighters.

Brian Heikkuri, a deckhand with the Westcott company, shares stories about his work.

“They’ll order from the pizza joint right down the street,” Heikkuri says. “We take it, put it into their delivery box and send it right up the side of the ship on a rope.

Read more about the J.W. Westcott > 

 

Life Aboard a Freighter

SEGMENT 2 | WPBS-DT | EASTERN LAKE ONTARIO, NEW YORK

Meet the captain and crew and learn what life is like on a Great Lakes ship

Board a vessel in the Welland Canal, the series of locks that allow ships to bypass Niagara Falls, and travel with the captain and crew into the stunning Thousand Islands region east of Lake Ontario.

In this segment from partner station WPBS-TV in New York, Great Lakes Now introduces the men who work on board.

“If you do a job that you love, you don’t feel like you’re working,” says Wilson Walters, captain of the CSL Welland.

Got a question for a Great Lakes freighter captain? Ask it HERE. >>

Watch the full WPBS documentary   HERE. >>

WPBS produced this segment in part with support from a Great Lakes Now Local Station Production Grant.

Read more about life aboard a freighter >


Since this original airing, WPBS and Great Lakes Now have partnered on several stories and events:

WATCH: Freighter Technology segment

WATCH: Water Damage Episode Facebook Watch Party

REVIEW: Dateline Brockville, Ontario: Free screening of “Ships and Shipwrecks”

Wrecks Within Reach

SEGMENT 3 | ALPENA, MICHIGAN

The Great Lakes only national marine sanctuary brings underwater history up close


This segment received an Award of Recognition – Documentary Short and Award of Recognition – Nature/Environment/Wildlife from the Impact Doc Awards.



Whether you’re in a glass-bottomed boat, looking down from a kayak, or diving underwater, the shipwrecks at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary give you a haunting look at the past.

Start your visit at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the sanctuary’s museum in Alpena, Michigan, and continue on the waters of Lake Huron to see the wrecks.

But it’s not just tourists who benefit from the work of the archaeologists and historians. Sanctuary staff help local students learn about the Great Lakes in a “Science and the Sanctuary” class that’s required at Alpena High School.

“It’s kind of changed a career course for me,” says freshman Jillian Pilarski. “I really enjoy science and never had an opportunity to learn about what I want to learn about. … This right now is really what I’m into.”

  • See similar sanctuaries on the Great Lakes or learn more about other potential national marine sanctuaries on the Great Lakes.

Here is additional Great Lakes Now work about shipwrecks since this segment first aired:

Videos from the Episode

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Featured Articles

Digital Credits

The Great Lakes Now Series is produced by Rob Green and Sandra Svoboda.

Digital Designer: Shelby Jouppi

Digital Video and Photography: Rob Green, Zosette Guir, Matt Ilas, Zachary Irving, Sandra Svoboda, Jim Toscano, Barry Walton, Jordan Wingrove and Courtesy of WPBS-TV, NOAA/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Captain Neil Schultheiss, the J.W. Westcott Co., Andy Morrison, Canada Steamship Lines, Tom Weldon, Thousand Islands International Council.

Website Writing: Natasha Blakely, Rob Green, Sandra Svoboda