THE THIRTY-FIVE MEN ON BOARD THE
CARL D. BRADLEY
HAVE NO way ofknowing that their ship, at one time the largest vessel on the GreatLakes and the ﬂagship ofthe Bradley Transportation Company ﬂeet, will beplunging to the bottom ofLake Michigan in halfan hour. As far as anyoneon the 638-foot limestone carrier can tell, the
is sailing as smoothly as can be expected, given the late-autumn storm that’s been lashing thelake and intensifying by the hour.It’s 5:00
., Tuesday, November 18, 1958. The
has been out onthe lake all day, edging its way northward along the Wisconsin coastline. Itsdestination: Rogers City, Michigan. According to the planned course, theboat will continue up the coast until it reaches the top ofLake Michigan. It will then turn east, move along the northern shore oflower Michigan, slipthrough the Straits ofMackinac and into Lake Huron, and eventually arriveat the Port ofCalcite in the wee hours ofthe morning—later than originally projected, but not all that bad, given the circumstances.Dusk has settled over the lake, and it will be totally dark very soon.Thick, dark clouds hang low overhead, offering a strong hint ofrain or,maybe later, when temperatures fall, snow. The wind has picked up sub-stantially over the past hour, and the sound it makes, as it screams throughthe
’s wires and railings, is deafening. Sea spray assaults anyone who happens to be on deck. Huge waves roll up under the ship, twisting itand lifting it in sections. The men on board the
take note ofall this,but they’re not concerned. They’ve been in storms before, and they’ll deal with this one. The ship is laboring, but it’s working exactly as it’s been de-signed to do.