Sailor Boy

Type: Wooden passenger steamer Length: 91.0 x 24.0 x 6.5 ft., 162.96 gt., 111.91 nt. Built: 1891, West Bay City, Michigan by F.W. Wheeler Depth: 10 - 20 ft. Location: Keweenaw Waterway, west of Hancock

Newspapers throughout the UP carried the story of the burning of the popular excursion steamer Sailor Boy at Hancock on May 12, 1923. She was used to ferry passengers to points around the Keweenaw Peninsula for many years before her loss and was a well known vessel. The fire which claimed her started from unknown origins and quickly engulfed her while she was docked at Hancock. Her mooring lines burned through and she drifted about until she beached just off Osceola Point near the old Stringer Sawmill Dock. She came to rest about 100 yards east of the point and 30 ft. from shore where she gradually sank beneath the water.

The Sailor Boy was built at West Bay City, Michigan in 1891 by F.W. Wheeler and G.F. Williams. Her official number was 116393 and she carried hull #79 from the F.W. Wheeler Shipyard. She was built for Armstrong's "Boy Line" and spent most of her career with them, running out of Port Huron and other eastern Lake Michigan ports until sold to the Hart Transportation Co., where she serviced the northern Lake Michigan ports of Green Bay and Escanaba and Gladstone. She was then sold and brought to the Keweenaw for use as a transportation vessel by James Sullivan.

The remains of the Sailor Boy now lie just off Osceola Point in 10 - 20 ft. of water. The vessel's hull is entirely intact with her upper works burned off. She has been spared the ice and waves of Lake Superior wrecks and makes an interesting dive. Her substantial machinery and propeller are still present along with her interesting steering gear. Numerous game fish can often bee seen around the wreck. Divers should be sure to use a dive flag in the canal due to the volume of traffic. Visibility is limited here and is 5 - 8 ft. Divers may want to visit this site in the Fall or Spring for better visibility. Remember to leave any artifacts for other divers to see.

References: Vessels Built on the Saginaw - Swayze, Roberts & Comtois, Ships & Shipwrecks in Door County by A. & L. Frederickson, US Merchant Vessels, Port of Marquette Vessel Enrollments, NOAA Chart #14972 (Inset), Randolph Beebe and Brendon Baillod, Images courtesy of the Father Edward J. Dowling Collection -U of Detroit, Mercy, Michigan Tech University Archives, Milwaukee Public Library, Great Lakes Marine Collection

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