2019 Show Presenters

Argo – Kevin Magee

The Argo is the 1937 fuel barge Tom Kowalczk found in 2015 in Lake Erie’s western basin. It made a lot of international news since it was rated by NOAA as the Great Lakes’ worst environmental threat but no one knew exactly where the barge was.  When it was found, we also discovered it was leaking, prompting an immediate Coast Guard response to pump out the remaining 100,000 gal. of benzol and 100,000 gal. of crude light oil.  They did, and the wreck is now safe and open to the public.  It is actually a pretty cool wreck dive.

Truk Lagoon – Becky Kagan Schott

Truk Lagoon is known as one of the wreck diving destinations on the planet. During WWII it was Japan’s main base in the South Pacific. In February 1944 American forces attacked for 3 days sinking 12 warships, 32 merchant ships and 275 aircraft. It’s considered the biggest underwater shipwreck graveyard in the world and a bucket list destination for any wreck diver or photographer.

Schooner Skeeles – Ric Mixter

Normally shipwreck searches involve the open water or library. Ric Mixter knew an approximate location of a shipwreck through a series of unique photographs that showed the final voyage of the Edward Skeeles. He turned to the internet to help him locate the debris field of where the ship lies today and he uncovered more than he bargained for. Ric will share the connection of the Skeeles to the Christmas Tree Ship, the collision and loss of the Viator and a newly located German U-Boat.

Collision Course – Capt. Jitka Hanakova

Whitefish Bay, Michigan in Lake Superior is notorious for ships colliding.  There are many reasons for it – the weather is unpredictable, the fog comes out of nowhere, the Whitefish Point sticks far out and ships need to navigate around and into the narrow passage into the Soo Locks.  The things that go bump in the night and sometimes during the day end up sinking – beautiful wooden steamers preserved on the bottom of Whitefish Bay. Explore these shipwrecks with Capt. Jitka Hanakova and her team.

Bringing Shipwrecks to Life – Becky Kagan Schott

A photographic tour showcasing some of the finest shipwrecks in the Great Lakes from schooners to freighters, ferries, and side wheel steamers. The journey will take you deep into the depths to illuminate these ships in new ways while sharing their stories that can inspire both divers and non-divers to explore the past.  

Georgian Bay Hat Tricks – Ken Merryman

Georgian Bay has four well known ghost ships the Asia, Jane Miller, J. H. Jones, and Manasoo, which went missing with most or all of their crew and passengers and were never found.  In 2017 our search team of Jerry Eliason, Jared Daniel, and Ken Merryman found the Jane Miller lost in 1881 in Colpoys Bay with all hands and few traces. Last winter the great-great grandson of Captain J. V. Crawford of the lost steamer J. H. Jones requested we search for his great-great grandfather’s ship.  The J. H. Jones sank with all hands off Cape Croker on November 22, 1906 on route from Owen Sound to Lion’s Head. Last season our search team of Jerry Eliason, Cris Kohl and Ken Merryman found the J. H. Jones, in the company of great-grandson Bob Crawford. To top off our hat trick the same team found coastal steamer Manasoo, lost in 1928 with 16 passengers and crew.  The forward half of the Manasoo is one of the most intact steamers in the Great Lakes and will be a prime destination for future tech divers. Ken will present amazing underwater video and the tragic stories of the losses of these three coastal steamers which have deep connections to many of the residents of the Bruce Peninsula.

Iron Chief, Tug Fred Lee, Schooner Arcturus – Cindy & Mike Lynch, Chris Roth

The summer of 2018, once again found Cindy & Mike Lynch and Chris Roth teaming up to explore some of the Thumb Area’s previously discovered but mostly forgotten shipwrecks.  The modern-day visibility has revealed how our shipwrecks are in a constant state of change (sometimes drastically.) We also found that sometimes, shipwrecks are actually constructed differently, than originally thought.  The fabulous visibility has also allowed broken up shipwrecks to be documented, in ways that it were never thought possible, before. Join us, while we explore the Tug Fred Lee and see the dramatic changes that have taken place, over time.  We are able to correct the documentation, on the Schooner Arcturus and then take a close look at the Steamer Iron Chief.

Travel/Technical/Educational Seminar Room

The Steamboat, the story of the Walk in the Water, the first steam powered vessel on the upper Great lakes – Robert McGreevy

This year is the 200th anniversary of the Walk in the Waters arrival at Detroit. The Walk in the Water was also the first steamboat to sink in a November storm. What were the forces behind the development and building of this amazing ship and how did this single voyage change everything on the Great Lakes.

All these questions, and more, will be answered in the presentation about this pioneer steamboat

Eber Ward Then And Now – Jim and Pat Stayer with film by Tony Gramer

The Wheeler Company built Eber Ward in 1888 in Bay City, Michigan. On her maiden voyage of the year, in the days before the sinking she left Chicago, stopped in Milwaukee to pick up 55,000 bushels of corn, bound for Port Huron. As the Ward passed through the Straits of Mackinaw on a calm weather day, at a distance of five to six miles West of Mackinaw city, at nine in the morning there was a loud cracking noise when she hit an ice floe with her bow and sank in 10 minutes carrying five of the crew members to their death.  This film is a tribute to our great friend and colleague Tony Gramer.

Decoding the dive Tables – James Mott

Decoding the Dive Tables presented by James Mott is an enlightened look at the history and evolution of dive tables over the last 100 years. Starting with the Haldane model through Navy tables to the popular certification agencies tables. The program will review the constantly changing array of dive computers starting with the most primitive from the 1960’s to the current generation of computers for sport diving and the more complex technical dive computers. James will also touch on the current trend in certification where the diver depends on computers without understanding the logic behind tables and the technical reasons behind limiting time and depth.

Shipwreck Diving in the 21st Century: How technology has changed the way we dive shipwrecks – Rich Synowiec

Technology in the 21st century has changed the way we live our lives. Communications, internet, medical advances have all reached points unheard of just 10 years ago.  Just like in other fields, technological advances have been occurring in scuba diving that has changed the way we shipwreck dive.  Dive computers, rebreathers, sonar imaging systems, photographic systems, lighting, suit heaters, drysuit systems and even drysuit undergarments all have advanced at an astonishing pace.   Join Rich Synowiec, a longtime shipwreck diver and Great Lakes enthusiast as he talks about how technology in the 21st century has changed how we dive, image and explore shipwrecks.

SAR, Response to Recovery – Michael A Wurster, LCDR and Sgt. Randy Parros, MSP

The LC Wurster will cover the fundamentals of the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue (SAR) system including available local resources, process of notification to response, SAR planning tools and modeling systems. In addition, there will be a summary of a successful missing diver rescue. Sgt. Parros will also discuss the transition to underwater recovery operations and resources available for underwater searches and recoveries including the specific MSP Marine Services team resources. Finally, there will be an opportunity for a question and answer session.

The Amazing Sunken WWII Planes North PNG’s – Jim and Pat Stayer

The north side of Papau New Guinea was the location of some of the fiercest battles of the South Pacific. Join Jim and Pat Stayer as they dive 6 different WWII plane wrecks. The program highlights a couple of American B-25s with their incredible stories; one in the jungle and one in crocodile infested waters. They dove on Japanese Petes, a Zero, and a Kate. The program also includes an Australia’s Catalina underwater and Ventura on land. All these planes are in amazing shape.

River Channels – Captain Luke Clyburn

This film describes the exploration and research along the now submerged ancient river channel which runs some 80 miles through the Straits of Mackinac and features fantastic underwater footage of the shipwrecks, which rest near the ancient banks.

Presenters

Becky Kagan Schott

Becky Schott started diving at 12 years old and instantly fell in love with it. She’s an underwater filmmaker, photographer and technical diving instructor. Her goal is to travel the world and capture inspiring images of extreme underwater environments including caves, ice, to deep shipwrecks always pushing the boundaries of creativity and discovering new ways of capturing these places artistically.  Becky’s background is in photojournalism. She likes to create compelling images that spark the imagination. Becky’s dived in Antarctica to the Arctic and many places in between but her favorite location is the Great Lakes. The stories are so powerful and she aspires to create images that is just as powerful. 

Becky has 5 Emmy-Awards and her work can be seen on major networks including National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and Red Bull. She is co- owner of Liquid Productions, specializing in bringing back video from challenging aquatic environments. Her experience working in remote locations around the world and filming in extreme environments has earned her a reputation of producing quality underwater imagery. She writes for several dive magazines in the USA and Internationally. With over 24 years of active diving experience she’s a SDI/TDI Technical diving instructor. She’s participated in dozens of exploration projects which earned her a place as a Fellow in the Explorers Club and in 2013 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Lieutenant Commander Michael Wurster

Lieutenant Commander Michael Wurster currently serves as the Enforcement Division Chief at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit overseeing bi-national law enforcement operations along 427 miles of continuous international border on two includes International Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations commonly known as the “Ship-rider” Great Lakes and one of the world’s busiest river corridors. In that capacity, he supports eight multi-mission boat stations and coordinates operations with numerous U.S. and Canadian agencies across Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario which Program.  He also serves as a Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, overseeing search and rescue response operations throughout Sector Detroit’s area of responsibility. He previously served tours at USCG Headquarters in Washington DC, at Sector New Orleans in New Orleans, LA, and aboard the USCGC RELIANCE in Portsmouth, NH. He is a 2006 graduate of the USCG Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Operations Research and Computer Analysis and is a 2013 graduate of the University of New Orleans where he earned a Master of Science in Mathematics and Statistics. He is a native of Pembroke, NH, and currently resides in Detroit, MI with his wife Caitlin and daughter Sophie.

Sgt. Randy Parros; Marine Services Team Commander, MSP

Sgt. Parros has been with the Michigan State Police since 1999.  Sgt. Parros joined the Marine Services Team in 2002 and has been their Commander since August 2013. Prior to that, Sgt. Parros served at the Reed City, Detroit and Monroe Posts.  He was first certified as a PADI open-water diver in 1987 while stationed in Okinawa in the Marine Corps.  Since then he has earned instructor certifications from PADI, NAUI and DAN, Tri-Mix, Poseidon MK VI advanced and rEvo rebreather certifications, IANTD rebreather to 60 meters, ERDI surface supplied air diver, ROV and AUV operator in addition to about 20 other specialty and technician certifications.

Sgt. Dale Lynema

Sgt. Lynema has been with the Michigan State Police since 1994 and joined the Marine Services Team in 2004.  He is currently a Sergeant at the Wayland Post.  Sgt Lynema obtained his recreational diver certification in March 1987.  Sgt Lynema also holds Master Diver and Tri-Mix certifications along with six other certifications.  In addition to Remotely Operated Vehicle, (ROV) operator, Sgt Lynema is also certified in Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, (AUV) operations and currently utilizes the IVER III for deep underwater sonar missions.

Captain Luke Clyburn

Luke Clyburn is a United Stated Merchant Marine captain operating the research/training vessel Pride of Michigan. He is an AAUS and PADI dive instructor, underwater photographer/film maker, and commanding officer of the Great Lakes Division Naval Sea Cadets. Clyburn is the president of the Noble Odyssey Foundation, which brings scientists and young people together to document underwater research projects and expand understanding of Great Lakes science and history.

Ric Mixter

Millions of television viewers recognize Ric Mixter as a shipwreck researcher, diving over 100 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, including the Edmund Fitzgerald. Mixter has produced over 30 programs for PBS and the Outdoor Channel, and has appeared as a shipwreck expert on the History and Discovery Channels. He leads the pack when it comes to sharing our unique underwater resources with the general public. Thousands of dive show patrons and countless school children know Mixter as the energetic storyteller who uses video like no other presenter can.

James Mott

James Mott is an instructor for Unified Team Diving International, a DIR-based training agency that is building thinking divers. A veteran of the Great Lakes area diving community, Mott started working at Don’s Dive Shop in 1991 – just two years after learning to scuba dive – and has managed Sea the World Scuba Center since the 1996 opening. He loves the Great Lakes as well as the shipwrecks in them. Mott has found a new love in Florida’s cave diving as well. He is a firm believer in the education of diving.

Jim & Pat Stayer

Jim and Pat Stayer are explorers and well-known underwater filmmakers dedicated to sharing shipwrecks and remote dive destinations with audiences across North America. They co-authored three books and 30 DVDs. According to Ernie Books, the Stayers have been referred to as one of the best videographers. They served as president and secretary of the Michigan Underwater Preserve Council, and were two of the founders of the Sanilac Shores Preserve. Together they ran a dive charter boat in the Great Lakes and have discovered eight shipwrecks.

They were cameramen for the History Channel, with their footage appearing on several major networks worldwide. Pat is a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame; Jim is a licensed captain.

Kevin Magee

Kevin Magee was certified for scuba in 1984, moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1993, and discovered shipwreck diving in the Great Lakes shortly afterwards.  He enthusiastically practices diving shipwrecks in Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes. Kevin is the co-founder and Deputy Director of the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE), an organization that searches for shipwrecks in Lake Erie and has found more than 20 shipwrecks since its creation in 2001.

Chris Roth

Chris Roth has been diving the Great Lakes for over 25 years and has logged over 1000 dives, most of which are in the waters off Michigan’s Thumb.  He is a USCG Licensed Captain, a PADI Certified Divemaster and a TDI Extended Range Diver. Chris has presented at several past Seahorses Film Festivals, dating all the way back to 1998 when he presented the discovery of the Steamer Troy.  In 2017, Chris began diving with Cindy and Mike Lynch. Together they visited and documented several previously discovered, but mostly forgotten ship wrecks lying off the Thumb.

Cindy Lynch

Cindy is an extremely accomplished technical diver and USCG Licensed Captain.  She started her diving adventures in 1997 and is now certified at all levels of both Open Circuit and Closed Circuit diving with over 1100 dives.  Cindy currently dives the Titan rebeather, but is also certified on the rEvo and Kiss Sidekick rebreathers.  Even though she loves Great Lakes diving and the lore of the historical shipwrecks, she also enjoys cave diving in the winter months in the warm waters of the north Florida cave system. 

Mike Lynch

Mike is an SDI/TDI instructor and technical rebreather diver and USCG Licensed Captain.  He started his diving adventures in 2008 and has over 600 dives primarily in the Great Lakes and in the Florida caves.  Mike currently dives the rEvo rebreather, but is also certified on the Titan and Kiss Sidekick rebreathers.  Mike’s passion is for the history and preservation of the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes.

Mike and Cindy met while scuba diving on a charter boat in Lake Huron and enjoy sharing the adventures with other divers and documenting shipwrecks in both photography and video to share with others who may not be able to see them.  Mike and Cindy met Chris while diving the Thumb Preserve.  Together, the trio now enjoys making the shipwrecks accessible to divers and working to promote both the Thumb Preserve as well as the Sanilac Shores preserve. In the summer of 2017, they visited and documented several previously discovered, but mostly forgotten wrecks lying off the Thumb.

Captain Jitka Hanakova

When Capt. Jitka looks out at Lake Michigan, she doesn’t see sunrises and sailboats. Instead, she imagines what lies beneath the water’s surface. An estimated 170 shipwrecks rest within 5 square nautical miles of Milwaukee’s shore – meaning customers of her dive charter business, Shipwreck Explorers, needn’t go far to experience the eeriness and beauty of a vessel long lost to the deep. A native of the Czech Republic, Hanakova moved to Milwaukee in 1999 for a job at a financial firm, and, having no scuba experience, only curiosity, found someone to take her diving in Lake Michigan. Within six years, she was captain of a diving charter, and by 2008, one of the founders of Shipwreck Explorers, which specializes in leading divers to such “sunken museums”.

Rich Synowiec

Rich Synowiec is a PADI Course Director and PADI Tec Tri-Mix Instructor Trainer. As full time Scuba Professional and 30 year veteran of the dive industry, Rich believes the best diving opportunities in the world are in the Great Lakes. While most of his time is taken up being the Owner of Divers Incorporated with locations in Ann Arbor, Monroe and White Star Quarry, Rich spends his free time diving and working towards promoting Midwest diving. Rich also hosts Diver Sync, a weekly scuba podcast where he spends time discussing scuba topics, travel, local adventures and things going on in the diving industry. For the Past three years, Rich has ventured into the realms of CCR diving, embracing the technology that makes the sport of scuba diving so fantastic.

Ken Merryman

Ken Merryman is past president and founding member of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society and retired computer engineer. He is a veteran speaker at scuba shows including Gales of November and Ghost Ships and gives several shipwreck talks each year. Ken has been an avid Great Lakes shipwreck diver for 47 years and operated a scuba diving charter service for 40 years. Although his charter business operated mostly at Isle Royale National Park, he also frequents the Lake Superior North Shore, Apostle Islands, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron diving and searching for new shipwrecks. His underwater photos and video can be seen at museums and shipwreck displays around the lakes.  The last three summers Ken and friends have been circum-navigating the Great Lakes in his 1947 Owens Cruiser and have covered four of the lakes so far finding six new shipwrecks along the way.