Explorers find rare 19th-century schooner in Lake Ontario

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Two explorers conducting underwater surveys of Lake Ontario have uncovered an aquatic mystery — a rare 19th-century schooner sitting upright 500 feet under the waves.

Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville located the 55-foot long dagger-board ship unexpectedly this fall using deep scan sonar equipment off the lake's southern shore, west of Rochester.

The ship is the only dagger-board known to have been found in the Great Lakes. Kennard said vessels of this type were used for a short time in the early 1800s. The dagger-board was a wood panel that could be extended through the keel to improve the ship's stability. The dagger-boards could be raised when the schooner entered a shallow harbor, allowing the boat to load and unload cargo in locations that would not otherwise be accessible to larger ships.

The shipwreck was found upright and in remarkable condition considering it had plunged more than 500 feet to its resting place on the bottom, the men said.

The schooner's origin is a mystery so far.

The name of the schooner is unknown and there are no documented accounts of a dagger-board schooner sinking in Lake Ontario.

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