Captain Jitka Hanáková is the owner of Shipwreck Explorers LLC, and Owner/Captain of the charter boat Molly V, based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shipwreck Explorers offer recreational and technical scuba diving trips throughout the Western Great Lakes, operating Molly V seasonally from remote sites in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. Jitka is an avid Great Lakes diver, award winning underwater photographer, and also enjoys free-diving, cave diving, and ocean wreck diving. She has dived waters ranging from the Great Lakes to caves in Florida and salt water wrecks in the Atlantic Ocean including the wreck of the Andrea Doria. Jitka has been diving since 2000, has been using rebreathers (closed circuit) mixed-gas technology since 2008, and has successfully used this technology to gain access to cold water shipwrecks at depths approaching 400 feet. A US Coast Guard Licensed Captain, she has been working and diving aboard Molly V since 2007 and has been Molly’s Owner and Captain since 2008. Jitka has been active in both terrestrial research and on-water searching for new discoveries for many years. Her first discovery was the steamer M.H. Stuart in 2009, then the historic discovery of the steamship L.R. Doty in the spring of 2010. This world-class discovery resulted in a National Geographic documentary the “Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes”, which has aired on national television. Jitka was the keynote speaker at the Ghost Ships Festival in 2011, where she shared her experiences finding and diving the wreck of the L.R. Doty. In the spring of 2015, Jitka and her team discovered and dove the long missing steamship Alice E. Wilds off of Milwaukee, completely preserved in over 300ft of water. Jitka works as a Business Analyst / Systems Consultant for local firms when the lakes are frozen.
- The Great Lakes and the Great Steamships Discoveries – L.R. Doty and Alice E. Wilds
The Great Lakes are not just any lakes; they are large and sometimes referred to as the “inland seas”. The storms come out of nowhere and can create large steep waves in a hurry. The winds are strong and it snows in the winter. Ships traveled across these lakes for their livelihood and moved goods and natural resources from place to place. Sometimes these ships never came back. It wasn’t just the bad weather that caused these wrecks, the fogs and lack of good navigation also caused ships to run into each other. Capt. Jitka Hanakova will tell you a tail of two such ships and their recent discoveries.
For almost 112 years, the steamship L.R. Doty rested in ghostly silence at the bottom of Lake Michigan, only disturbed slightly by fishermen’s lines in 1991, and forgotten again until 2010, when a group of explorers and divers ventured to the depths of 320ft to solve another maritime mystery.
In 2015 Capt. Jitka Hanáková and her team discovered another large steamship. Capt. Jitka will take you through an amazing journey of what it takes to find and dive a missing wreck, from becoming aware of a missing wreck, library research, search planning, mowing the lawn with a sidescan to the final victory of finding and discovering a wreck; and subsequent dives on it.
- Sailing Tales from Presque Isle, Michigan
The Great Lakes are not just any lakes; they are large and sometimes referred to as the “inland seas”. The storms come out of nowhere and can create large steep waves in a hurry. The winds are strong and it snows in the winter. Ships traveled across these lakes for their livelihood and moved goods and natural resources from place to place. Sometimes these ships never came back. It wasn’t just the bad weather that caused these wrecks, the fogs and lack of good navigation also caused ships to run into each other.
What was it like to sail the Great Lakes back in those times? Why are there so many wrecked schooners in one location? Join us in uncovering the mysterious sinking, the life of the families and crew members and their stories; as well as photos of these schooners as they proudly sit on the bottom waiting to catch another wind and sail away.