Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | October 27, 2010


Whoever said that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” never encountered Lake Michigan up close.  Even on her most sedate days, the “Big Lake”—as she is known in these parts—demands consummate respect.  And she will get it, or she will get you!

In 2009, 39 people lost their lives to the Big Lake.  She has claimed 68 so far this year.  These deaths are often described as “accidents.”  But the reality is that there is nothing accidental at all about most Lake Michigan deaths.  The Big Lake stakes her claim, and she will have what is rightfully hers.

On a day like today—where the deepest low pressure system over the Great Lakes since that which sent the Edmund Fitzgerald to the bottom of Lake Superior in 1975—no one has any business on Lake Michigan.  That is unless he has a pressing appointment with the grim reaper to see about employment aboard the Flying Dutchman.  To venture onto the piers today is tantamount to seeking one’s own suicide.  Still, if you venture out to the lake-shore to view the 14-foot waves from the safety of the shore, you will undoubtedly see many a hardy fool strolling the pier with apparently no awareness of what may be required of him in the moments ahead.

Most deaths on Lake Michigan are found among those who don’t live near the lake.  They are from among out-of-towners who are lured by the siren call of the lake—the interplay of wind and waves and light upon the surface of the waters, and the sounds that would cure the most chronically afflicted insomniac.  The lake at its most compelling beguiles many a naive tourist into dangerous rip-current-laden surf or out onto piers where they are no match for the force of a huge wave waiting to drag an unknowing unfortunate soul to a horrific demise.  Those who live along the lake know better; tourists simply do not.

The Canadian balladeer Gordon Lightfoot wrote of Lake Superior that which can also be emphatically applied to Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes:

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.
(“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald,” 1975.)

This may as well be a fundamental law of the universe, and cannot be overstated.  We would all do well to learn it well and to never put it to the test!



  1. That really was a storm for the record books. Here, “up north,” the ferries to the Island (do I really need to say which island?) took the day off. Even the freighters were taking no chances and could be seen tucked into relatively quiet coves, opting to simply ride it out. I suspect they’d rather drink to the memory of the Fitzgerald than to be in the drink with her.

    As for me? Well…it was GREAT nappin’ weather! 🙂

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