Traverse City Record-Eagle


August 25, 2013

George Weeks: Sporty Snyder dives historic shipwreck

What politician doesn’t relish making a splash before cameras?

Gov. Rick Snyder did just that, literally, last week in a wetsuit as he plunged into Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron off Alpena to promote viewing of Michigan’s historic shipwrecks.

With white hair flapping outside his mask as the certified scuba diver examined the 1907 wreck of the Monohansett as part of his Pure Michigan campaign, Snyder waved as underwater photographers captured what might be the most unique tourism pitch by a governor.

As cameras of Detroit’s WDIV-TV rolled before Snyder made his plunge from the Pride of Michigan training vessel for the U.S. Navel Sea Cadets Corps, he said:

“Many people didn’t even know we had a resource like this in Thunder Bay. There are so many ways to enjoy this great area. It’s a beautiful wreck in terms of the keel, the workmanship, the boilers, the propeller, the crankshaft. More than that, you can see the wood structures with the beams, it’s really cool.”

Snyder, the self-described One Tough Nerd, is also a sporting one. He kayaks and water skis off his property on Gun Lake downstate, and once skied on Grand Traverse Bay. Also on his outdoor agenda: Salmon fishing in Lake Michigan and pan fishing on many an inland lake.

He is a snowmobiler, including in the Upper Peninsula; has hiked the Porcupine Mountains; and has done bike riding in places ranging from Mackinac Island (where Michigan governors have a summer residence) to Detroit.

Over the decades of viewing Michigan governors in various venues, I have many memorable images. Three examples:

n 1949-1960 Democratic Gov. G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams, when he later was President John F. Kennedy’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, calling square dances at a State Department reception for robed African ambassadors (as he did during the many years on the campaign trail when he was governor.)

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