1 a.m. The Fitzgerald passes approximately 20 miles due south of Michigan’s Isle Royale.
2 a.m. The Fitzgerald and Anderson agree to take a northern route across the lake for protection from the gale. NWS upgrades the forecast to a Storm Warning, predicting northeast winds of 35 to 50 knots and waves of 8 to 15 feet.
7 a.m. The Fitzgerald calls its company office to report a delayed arrival due to worsening weather conditions. The ship is approximately 35 miles north of Copper Harbor.
1 p.m. The Fitzgerald is 11 miles NW of Michipicoten Island. The Anderson is approximately 20 miles northwest of the island, reporting 20-knot winds and 12-foot waves.
1:40 p.m. The Fitzgerald radios the Anderson to talk weather and course changes. Capt. McSorley reports his ship is “rolling some.” The Fitzgerald cuts closer to Michipicoten Island while the Anderson cuts west a bit to take rising seas from astern.
2:45 p.m. The Anderson changes course to avoid Six Fathom Shoal area north of Caribou Island. The Fitzgerald is about 16 miles ahead. Heavy snow begins to fall and the Fitzgerald is lost from sight. It’s the last time the ship would be seen by human eyes.
3:20 p.m. The Anderson records 43-knot winds and 12 to 16-foot waves.
3:30 p.m. The Fitzgerald calls the Anderson to report damage and say the ship would slow to let the Anderson catch up. Minutes later, the Coast Guard issues directions for all ships to find safe anchorage because the Soo Locks have been closed.
McSorley: “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have sustained some topside damage. I have a fence rail laid down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I’m checking down. Will you stay by me til I get to Whitefish?”
Cooper: “Charlie on that Fitzgerald. Do you have your pumps going?”
McSorley: “Yes, both of them.”
4:10 p.m. The Fitzgerald radios the Anderson to request navigational help.
4:30 p.m. The Fitzgerald passes 3 to 5 miles east of Caribou Island. Many theorize the ship unknowingly struck the poorly marked 6 Fathom Shoal on the island’s north side, but that has never been conclusively proven. The debate rages to this day.
4:39 p.m. NWS revises the forecast again, predicting northwest winds 38 to 52 knots with gusts to 60 knots and waves 8 to 16 feet.
5:30 p.m. The Fitzgerald is advised by the Swedish ship Avafors that the Whitefish Point beacon and light are disabled by power failure.
Avafors: “Fitzgerald, this is the Avafors. I have the Whitefish light now but still am receiving no beacon. Over.”
Fitzgerald: “I’m very glad to hear it.”
Avafors: “The wind is really howling down here. What are the conditions where you are?”
Fitzgerald: (Undiscernable shouts overheard) “DON’T LET NOBODY ON DECK!”