The Storm and Final Voyage
November is referred to as "The Month of Storms" on the Great Lakes. The storm that hit when the Fitzgerald went down was one of the biggest, and the worst that Captain McSorley said he had ever seen. In the Fitzgerald's storm, winds as fast as 45 knots were reported, with waves as high as thirty feet. Both water pumps on the Edmund Fitzgerald were damaged, and the lifeboats were destroyed by the force of the storm. While it is many times portrayed that ships were happy to return to the water in search for the Fitz that night, they were not. Though they were eager to help their friends, it was a hard decision to make. Crews had to make a choice to risk their lives in hopes of saving others, or staying sheltered by the safety of Whitefish point. While many factors undoubtedly went into the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and no one can conclusively determine the cause, one thing is certain from testimony of other sailors that were on Lake Superior on November 10: the storm was a major factor to the ultimate demise of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Waves high enough to sweep across the deck, making it too dangerous to stand on the deck were a major factor in the Edmund Fitzgerald taking on water early in the day on November 10. Whatever the cause of the wreck itself, the storm of November 10 will never be forgotten by Great Lakes sailors.
The final voyage was scheduled to be 746 miles from Superior, Wisconsin to Zug Island, Detroit. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Bay in Michigan.
The image at the top of the page is a surface analysis chart of the storm. The image below tha is from the National Transportation Safety Board 1976 report of the investigation into the sinking, with the estimate course of the Arthur M. Anderson and the Edmund Fitzgerald during the last few hours before the sinking on November, 10, 1975,