Shipwreck with ‘horrible’ luck sank three times found 150 years on

The final resting place of a ship “cursed” with such bad luck that it managed to sink three times has finally been found after more than 150 years at the bottom of Lake Superior. After years of misfortune, the 144 feet-long Nucleus — which won the nickname of the “Bad Luck Barquentine” — sank in a storm on September 14, 1869 after setting out from the port town of Marquette, Michigan, in the US. (A barquentine, or “schooner barque”, is a type of sailing vessel which carries three or more masts.) The wretched ship was found by wreck hunters 40 miles northwest of Vermilion Point, Michigan, at a depth of around 600 feet — off a stretch of coast branded the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes”.

A spokesperson for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, which found the ship, said: “Many people associated with maritime professions have superstitions.

“Although I can’t speak for the crew of the Nucleus, I would not want to go on that vessel! It had horrible luck. It actually sank twice before it went to the bottom of Lake Superior.

“There are records of its accidents. The other times it sank it was shallow enough to fix and re-float.

“It actually had to run itself aground twice as well, due to leaking. Also, it hit the middle of the SS Detroit and sank that vessel!”

The crew of the Nucleus continued to experience bad luck even after abandoning their ship and taking to a lifeboat.

A few hours after the accident, the storm-tossed survivors spotted and hailed the SS Union.

Its crew reportedly sighted the lightboat, and sailed on regardless.

Fortunately, however, they were later picked up by the schooner Worthington, with no loss of life at the end of their misadventure.

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The Nucleus was first detected using side-scan sonar technology in the middle of 2021 — and then positively identified by means of a remotely operated vehicle the following summer.

The wreck was found to be in surprisingly good condition, said the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society’s director of marine operations.

He explained: “The stern was intact. It had a straight back stern and then the port side was also intact.

“And so I was more excited about it, because at first I thought it was totally in pieces on the bottom.”

Additional reporting by Michael Havis.

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