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Researchers could reach possible “Griffon” ship deck Thurs.

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MICHIGAN (WITI) -- Scientists still haven't officially identified the Griffon.  But they say they are closer to confirming they have been dredging at the site of an old shipwreck.  For six days, crews in Fairport, Michigan have been trying to confirm Steve Libert's belief that a wooden beam in Lake Michigan is part of French explorer Robert La Salle's Griffon.  The ship disappeared after leaving Washington Island in September 1679.

"We'll see what happens today and hopefully see if we're right," Libert said.

Libert is closer confirming his eighth-grade dream of finding the long lost Griffon. In 2001, he found a piece of timber, jutting 10 feet out of the bed of Lake Michigan.

After pulling the timber from the lake bed, archaeologists are now more confident in their belief that it is part of a centuries old ship.

"What we are trying to test is whether there is an archaeological site. So far we have a component of a sailing vessel and it appears to be very old," Project Manager Ken Vrana said.

Commercial divers had been dredging around the timber for five days. Scientists decided to pull the timber out after it became unstable. To their surprise, it wasn't attached to anything.

"As a scientist, you're prepared for surprises like that. You do your best job to anticipate, make assumptions and then you generally devise a new strategy when you find differently," Vrana said.

The experts involved still believe a shipwreck is near their test area. It has divers picking up the pace of dredging.

"Right now we're doing a heavy excavation process," Tommy Gouin with Great Lakes Diving & Salvage said.

"Now that we're going quite a bit deeper to try and even discover if there is a boat down there, it's been deemed necessary that we're going to have to speed it up and go a little bit bigger," commercial diver Joe Schafer said.

French archaeologists will decide if the Griffon has been found. However only two of the original three are still here and they are set to fly back to France on Friday.

"There's some people that have their hopes and dreams on this. It would be really cool to come through for them," Schafer said.

The commercial divers expect to reach a possible ship deck by noon Thursday.  The archaeologists say they still need to find French artifacts in order to confirm the wreck is the Griffon.

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