Lake Ontario - E Zee CRUZ'N Houseboat Wreck
Found by: Dan Scoville & Chris Koberstein - Summer 2012
Location: Off Oswego, NY
A Small Target
In the summer of 2012 Dan Scoville and Chris Koberstein were searching the bottom of Lake Ontario off Oswego, NY with a side scan sonar when a small but hard target rolled down the sonar screen. This was not the 1st small target the pair had found on the trip. In fact, it was one of a number of small targets that had broken the monotony of the long search. The small target was added to the list and the primary search continued.
A few days later Dan and Chris decided to go back and take closer look at the target. Out of all the small targets on the list this was one of the best in terms of definition. It was obviously a boat of some sort and looked to be mostly intact. Dan readied the ROV while Chris anchored the boat in deep water. They would soon find out just what was on the bottom of Lake Ontario in this remote location.
Once on the bottom the ROV made a short transit from its landing place to the wreck site where a large intact house boat slowly came into view. This houseboat was in very good condition and was not covered with Zebra Mussels. This told Dan and Chris that the boat must have gone down relatively recently. The boats name, E Zee CRUZ'N, was plainly visible on the stern of the wreck. The windows were all intact and a few of them were open. A BBQ was mounted on the stern rail and one of the covers on the aft deck was open giving a view of a storage compartment and the boat's single engine. Along the starboard side of the wreck the pilot’s door was open. Inside the pilot house debris lies about the deck. Some of this debris probably broke loose as the boat sank to the bottom of Lake Ontario.
Piloting the ROV to the front of the wreck a number of registration stickers were found stuck to the front window. The latest date on the registration stickers was 2003 giving Dan a starting place to search for the houseboats history.
Identifying E Zee CRUZ'N
The 1st step in identifying E Zee CRUZ'N was to find the origin of the stickers on the front window of the wreck. Focusing on the latest stickers from 2003 Dan found that the stickers were a Canadian seasonal lockage permit and a Canadian seasonal mooring permit. In addition a partial registration number was found on the starboard window. The registration number started with the designation 50E. This confirmed that the boat was last registered in Toronto Ontario.
Armed with this information Dan started sifting through old newspaper articles starting in 2003 looking for any reference to a Canadian houseboat sinking in Lake Ontario. After a few days a potential candidate was found in the July 13th 2003 edition of the Syracuse Post.
According to the article two Canadian houseboats left Oswego, NY on July 12, 2003 and headed towards Kingston, CA. Around 8am the boats were overtaken by unseasonably large waves. E Zee CRUZ’N was quickly overcome by the waves and started to go down. The second boat was also in peril. A large wave smashed through the front window and the boat started to fill with water.
Captain Andy Sykut of the fishing boat Candies was one of the first people to responded to the emergency. When he pulled alongside only a few feet of E Zee CRUZ’N remained above water. Captain Sykut remembered a railing around the top of the boat and a life ring still attached to the doomed vessel. The captain lost little time scooping the four men out of the lake. During this time the operator of the sinking vessel offered a reward to anyone that would dive inside the sinking boat and recover a clock that was over 100 years old and had been owned by his grandfather. There were no takers and the clock disappeared beneath the waves with the boat.
The Discovery Team
Dan Scoville is an experienced cave and technical diver. In 2005, Dan led the development of an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV) with a team of college seniors from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is currently a project manager and electrical engineer for Oceaneering International in Houston, TX
Chris Koberstein is an experienced cave, technical and rebreather diver. Chris uses sophisticated rebreather diving equipment to explore depths to over 300 feet. Chris works as an aviation maintenance technician with Air Canada.
Dan Scoville - cell 1-832-423-6318
Chris Koberstein – home 1-450-458-3590 cell 1-514-236-0824