Published by The Voice, April 11, 2012
By Jeri Packer, Staff Writer
The Friends of the Algonac-Clay Library are sponsoring another event in their Winter/Spring 2012 Dinner Series, featuring a local authority aptly known around town as Freighter Frank, but formally known as Frank Frisk.
Frisk has made it his business to explore marine activity on the Great Lakes and St. Clair River. The Marysville resident knows the profiles of all the shipping vessels routinely seen making their way to port. He is also proficient on many of the old ships, including the S.S Edmund Fitzgerald. On the night of the April 25 dinner series he will mesmerize his audience in a presentation called Rogue Wave/Edmund Fitzgerald, as he speaks of that terrible night on Nov. 10, 1975, when the S.S Edmund Fitzgerald sank into the deep.
The host for the series is McRae's Big River Grille at 9715 St. Clair River Drive in Algonac; doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6 p.m. The presentation will follow dinner. The event is $20 per person and includes the dinner choice from a selected menu and unlimited soft beverages, tax and gratuity. Seating is on a first-come first-served arrangement.
Experts in the field of maritime vessels agree that the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was lost in a storm on Lake Superior 37 years ago; but, even now, they are still not clear on what caused the ship to sink.
Frank Frisk Submitted Photo
Frisk said he had the opportunity of a lifetime when he was asked to join a specialized panel of diligent investigators to try to answer that question. Frisk said they applied the latest in marine technology and wave science to re-enact the actual storm conditions that night the ship went down.
"For the first time, (they created) a scientifically accurate experience of the last minutes of the Edmund Fitzgerald and its likely encounter with a rogue wave," he said.
A Toronto based film company made a documentary out of the extensive research that went into the investigation, called Dive Detectives. It is the story of Mike and Warren Fletcher's work in finding out specifically how the ship and its 29 crew members sank.
"A report by the U.S. Coast Guard had previously blamed the crew for the disaster," Frisk said. "They concluded they failed to fasten the hatches properly. I consider this finding to be wrong, having spent 10 years on the Great Lakes, in storms severe and mild."
Frisk offered a more likely scenario: The ship was overpowered by a "rogue wave." The Fletchers findings have since uncovered that likelihood by proving evidence that a massive wall of water reaching up to 10-stories high likely sank the ship. The existence of a wave of this magnitude was previously assigned to sailor s' folklore, but now is looking like a plausible answer to the shipwreck.
"This recent scientific investigation makes a lot of sense to me," said Frisk.
Wendy LaFond considers Frisk a mentor and shares much of his curiosity about nautical activities on the Great Lakes. She volunteers at the Great Lakes Maritime Center while earning her degree in journalism/communications. They both belong to the International Ship Masters' Association Port Huron Lodge No. 2. LaFond also writes a blog, as Freighter Frank does, that allows her to share her bird's eye view of the Great Lakes region from Port Huron at uniqueamerica.wordpress.com.
LaFond said Frisk provides all the background on the freighters coming past the Maritime Center. They are announced by volunteers as they pass into view at the Maritime Center.
"He keeps the computer board updated," she said. "Give him the name of a vessel and he will tell you which direction it's heading, where it is headed, the last checked estimated time of arrival. He fills all that in for us."
Tickets are available at the Algonac Water Lily at 1029 St. Clair River Drive in Algonac. Call (810) 794-7673. For more information, contact the Algonac-Clay Library at (810) 794-4471.
Contact Frisk at FreighterFrank.com, BoatNerd.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Jeri Packer at (586) 716-8100, ext 305; email@example.com or on Twitter @JeriPacker.