Le Griffon expedition binds friends together for three decades

A team of northern Michigan divers believe they are close to uncovering the remains of the first European ship to travel the Great Lakes.

For the last three days, experts have been trying to identify a shipwreck that could be Le Griffon which sunk in 1679.

The expedition to discover the shipwreck site began more in 1981, when four friends started exploring the islands off of the coast of Fairport in Michiganâ??s western Upper Peninsula.

â??Basically it started as a hobby because we didn't do this full time basically vacations every year when we would all get together,â?? Original explorer Tom Kucharsky said.

Tom and Jim Kucharsky, Steve Libert, and Vance Skowronski are all from Ohio, and would make the 10 hour trip to the small town of Fairport each year.

â??We were just learning to dive we didn't know anything about boats, we could camp out, we knew about that, but we had to learn about underwater diving equipment and boats,â?? Great Lakes Exploration Group President Steve Libert said.

As the years went by, mother nature cleared the way for these divers

â??We the visibility started improving year after year then we started finding more and more things,â?? Kucharsky said.

One of those things was a tall piece of timber sticking out of the lakeâ??s floor.

After years of research, Libert convinced the science world that this might indeed be the Griffon.

And that brings us to the excavation this week, where dozens of experts are trying to identify this wreck.

â??We kept getting deeper and deeper three feet become four then five and now we are down to eight feet and we still haven't reached the deck of the ship,â?? Libert said.

Libert says his team could be only a day away from finding the ship.

â??What we do know is the piece is extremely old some of the sediment was so hard it takes a couple hundred of years to form its definitely a part of a ship there is no doubt about it,â?? Libert said. â??Is it the griffon? We still don't know.â??