Captain Ernest M. McSorley clenched his teeth while starting across the deck of his ship, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. At 63, he had faced numerous storms through the years, and at first, he assumed this would be no different from the others. Now he wondered. He watched the waves of Lake Superior swell to a height of 35 feet. Wind shook the windows, howling. Snow swirled as he heard his ship creak and groan in protest of the brutal force of the elements.

The radio crackled with static. He strained to hear the words asking his crew to report their status.

“We’re in a big sea. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Captain McSorley radioed. “The Fitzgerald has a bad list, has lost both radars, and is taking heavy seas over the deck.”

Waves crashed and roiled against the ship. Sailors scurried, working the bilge pumps, trying to pump out the lake water. It poured in as fast as they removed it.

“Don’t allow nobody on deck!” McSorley barked the order to his crew.

He peered out the window again, unable to see beyond the swirling snow and waves. He leaned as the ship tossed, compensating for the tilt.

“We are holding our own,” were the last words reported by the captain of the Fitzgerald.  Moments later, the ship cracked into two pieces and sank. No distress signals were received and no survivors found.

Shipwrecks continue to be a part of boat-and-ship history, but they’re only a part. Nautical navigation fills a broad spectrum of techniques and crafts from simple rafts to ocean liners. Let’s explore this form of transportation.


Sextant, compass, rudder, displacement, scurvy, floats, yachts, steamboats, navigation, starboard, port, helm, list, mainsail, knot tying.

Bible Memorization

     •“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” (James 3:4)

     •“So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.” (Psalm 104:25–26)

     •“For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.” (1 Kings 10:22)

     •“And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.” (Acts 27:40)

     •“Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.” (2 Corinthians 11:25)

     •“Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.” (Isaiah 33:20–21)


     •Numerous Scriptures in the Bible reference ships. Using a Bible concordance, find at least five verses and record them on a piece of paper.

     •Read Acts 27 about Paul sailing to Rome and what he experienced. Gather some friends or family members to reenact this event.