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APRIL 1, 2002



* Report News

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Growth in Beach Sand Leads to Conversions

April 1:

Ogle Me Norton, which operates the largest US fleet on the Great Lakes, announced today that it converted some of its ships to suction dredges, commonly called sand suckers.  Rocky Stone, spokesperson for Ogle Me Norton said the conversions make good business sense.  "We are the largest construction aggregate supplier in the Great Lakes region. While we are well blessed with several large stone quarries, we have lacked adequate supplies of construction-grade sand.  By converting our ships to sand suckers, we now have access to high-quality lake bottom sand."
The first two ships to be converted are the Valvoline and the Ogle Me Norton. The conversions were completed this winter in Toledo.  The 630 foot long Valvoline is equipped with one dredge pipe, while the thousand foot long Ogle Me Norton is equipped with two. "We considered one 900 foot long dredge pipe, Stone stated, but we couldn't find a crane big enough in Toledo to lift it. Too bad, since it would have really helped us dredge up the deep stuff."

Each ship will be adding another employee, a sucker, who will operate the dredge.  Currently the ships will be stationed in Lake Erie, until they deepen it to 300 feet.  The boats will return to port each night, which is causing some concern among the regular crew, since word is getting out to their spouses that they should be returning home each evening.

 1000-foot Ogle Me Norton  Valvoline deepening Lake Erie

Reported by Tom Hynes


Top Secret Mac II

April 1:

Boatnerd mini cams orbiting in space high above Cheboygan, Mi., have revealed the U.S. Coast Guard's latest plan for the replacement of the icebreaker Mackinaw. Applying almost-perfected technology, the USCG has decided to clone the existing Mackinaw, thereby creating Mac II.

Coast Guard officials are tight-lipped about the decision, which is sure to cause an outcry from  anti-cloning factions. "It worked for sheep," said R-Adm. Clem McDougal. "And it is only a short leap from a 'sheep' to 'ship.' They sound almost exactly the same." (Photo courtesy of The Office of Boatnerd Security)

Reported by:  Roger LeLievre




"Boatnerd's Guide" now available from BNN

April 1:

With the growing popularity of boatwatching, the Boat Nerd Network now offers "The Boatnerd's Guide" to help newcomers to the hobby learn the many fascinating ways in which they can become expert boatnerds.

You'll no longer need to watch with envy as you beg other people for "expert" advice about how to get aboard the boats to enjoy your hobby. After reading the "The Boatnerd's Guide," YOU will be the expert in your port. Other boatwatchers will simply shake their heads in wonder every time you offer advice.

To help you understand the value of "The Boatnerd's Guide," we're enclosing some sample chapters. We're sure you'll see how much expert information is packed into this guidebook.

"The Boatnerd's Guide" can be yours for just three installments of $19.95. Order now!

 Chapter 1: How to get a ride on a laker

1) Marry a sailor.
2) Marry someone related to a sailor.
3) Get elected to Congress. Then contact one of the fleets and tell them that, as the new assistant deputy co-chair for the House subcommittee on roadside rest areas, you need an "orientation cruise."
4) Casually stroll aboard a boat as it's about to leave port. If anyone asks what you're doing, tell them you're Bob's relative and he offered you a ride. Then make yourself scarce and sleep on deck each night so no one sees you. If you are informed that nobody on the crew is named Bob, quickly mumble something about getting lost on your way to the casino boat and skedaddle down the ladder.

Chapter 2: How to behave aboard a laker 

As a guest aboard a laker, you'll want to fit in quickly. To do so, you need to talk like a sailor. As soon as you come on deck, greet any crew members present with a phrase like: "Ahoy, mateys. As soon as I stow my swab, I'll join you on the dog watch to splice the main brace!"  

Throughout your visit, address others as "matey." Loudly refer to the captain as "the old man." If his wife is aboard, proper etiquette naturally dictates that you refer to her as "the old lady."  

As you walk around deck, mutter "argh" every so often. If a crew member explains something to you, nod your head and growl "aye" every few seconds. When you say something funny or make a statement, look around at other crew members and shout, "Ain't that right, boys?" 

Sailors appreciate visitors who are knowledgeable about boats, so be sure to display your knowledge by frequently reciting the dimensions of their boat and the history of their fleet. Don't hesitate to correct any crew member who doesn't know as much as you.

You'll also need to dress the part, so wear appropriate clothing, such as a cap loaded with admiral's braid on the bill. A safari jacket and high-heeled cowboy boots will be a big help as you negotiate ladders and steel decks. 

Chapter 3: Enjoying Shipboard Meals 

When eating, take plenty and ask for more, even if you can't finish your meal. A cook can receive no higher compliment than getting a plate full of picked-over food returned to the galley. 

During your time on the boat, be sure to visit the steward at work during mealtime to compliment him or her on their cooking. Feel free to offer advice about food preparation, especially if your Aunt Minnie had a favorite recipe for hog brains or if you've seen a particularly tasty meal of tripe prepared on "Emeril Live." If the cook is busy, you can lend a hand by seasoning any dishes that might be simmering on the stove. Be sure to yell "Bam!" and "Feel the love!" as the steward is dishing up meals or as crew members go through the line in the galley. 

Before retiring for the evening, check the refrigerator for "night snacks" left for the overnight watches. Take everything back to your room -- you won't want to let all that food go to waste each night!

Chapter 4: Photo Tips 

Many boatnerds enjoy photographing boats. The secret here is to look like a professional "photographer."  

To start, burn through plenty of film. That's the sign of a pro! You haven't properly documented a boat until you have photographed literally every square inch of the vessel.  

You'll also want to get the biggest camera bag available and stuff it full of gear. You can buy outdated lenses and camera bodies at most photo shops. You won't be able to use this gear, but it will look very professional when it's stuffed in your camera bag. 

Of course, to make your photos different from those of everyone else, you need to pick better locations from which to shoot. The best way to do this is to make your way onto private property to get unusual angles. Don't worry about those No Trespassing signs — those are meant for other people.  

If you are confronted while trespassing and asked to leave private property, it's best to assume an offensive posture. After all, you are preserving history and the property owner is interfering with your right to do as you please. If asked to leave, immediately scream, "Do you have any idea who I am!?" If the other person still insists you leave, you can thunder "Fine! You'll answer to history for this!!"

Chapter 5: Collecting Boat Memorabilia

Collecting memorabilia from the boats is an enjoyable pastime and an important way to preserve history. A good way to begin your collection is to hang around docks in Great Lakes ports. You'll find lots of artifacts from the boats that are simply discarded. Visit a boat during winter layup and you'll often see a trash bin on the dock. Help yourself to any items in the bin - scrap wood, empty food boxes, wastepaper. All of it will be historical someday. Sure, that wastepaper may simply look like somebody's discarded doodling, but its monetary value can only go up. Can you imagine how valuable a collection of George Washington's discarded scratch paper would be today!? What about a cardboard box tossed away by the person who designed the Great Pyramids of Egypt!? That would be worth a fortune today! By carefully combing through today's discards, you will build a valuable collection for future generations to enjoy. Some people like to specialize their collections. For instance, you could specialize in food containers from various ships. Just approach your favorite boats when they're docked or passing through the Soo Locks. The crew won't mind; they'll be happy to throw these items to you. Imagine the enjoyment you'll receive from collecting oatmeal boxes from each boat in the U.S. and Canadian fleets. Be sure to carefully label each box with the name of the ship it was aboard. As your collection grows, you will want to proudly display your "finds." The best place to do this is, of course, your living room. Remove unnecessary paintings and family photographs and replace them with shelves for your collection.  That oatmeal box collection mentioned earlier? Think how nice it would look lining the walls of your living room. Your friends and neighbors will love to spend an evening listening to you recount how you carefully recovered and cataloged these artifacts from your favorite ships.

Reported by The Boatnerd Network


New Cement Carrier Debuts

April 1:

Visitors on hand for the opening of the Soo Locks were treated to an unusual sight last week. Boatwatchers were told there was a new cement carrier on its way and some thought that it would be the CSL Tadoussac, designed for the cement clinker trade.

The crowds were amazed as the new C. Mehndt ship, "Wonnawirk", sounded a salute to the boatwatchers at Mission Point. This was the first trip for the experimental ship and it is expected to be visiting many ports on the Great Lakes this summer.

Gary Slate, Vice President of Marketing for C. Mehndt told bystanders "From Road projects to a patio in you're back yard the Wonnawirk is the right ship for you."  The Wonnawirk is expected to remain busy in the wet cement trade all season long.

Reported by: Dick Lund


Shipmaster III computer simulation available only from BNN!

April 1:

Now you can lock through with the big guys or push your boat into the teeth of the nastiest gale with the new Shipmaster III computer simulation software available only from the Boat Nerd Network.

Shipmaster III puts you right in the pilothouse on your choice of 10 lakers. You get a 360-degree view and a full set of navigation gear. Special peripherals allow you to run the bilge pumps by email! Control everything from your keyboard -- rudders, engines, self-unloader -- you can even pump out the sewage treatment tanks!

Activate the special "on watch" settings, and Shipmaster III will wake you in the middle of the night to handle tricky passing situations in the rivers and docking. You can even set Shipmaster III to wake you every time there's bad weather in your city! And if you don't respond quickly enough, Shipmaster III will suspend your "master's license" for 30 days by locking you out of your computer.

Once you own Shipmaster III, you'll never again have to worry about attending those pesky family get-togethers, work functions, parties or even your job! Shipmaster III can become your whole life!

Boatnerding on your computer was never so easy or fun. Shipmaster III is available now from the Boat Nerd Network for just $119.99.



New Great Lakes museum and learning center to be built

April 1:

GRUMPUS, Mich. -- The most comprehensive nautical museum and learning center on the Great Lakes will be constructed in Grumpus, Mich., beginning this spring, developers announced today. 

In a well-attended news conference in this Lake Michigan resort town, officials of Soar Pointe Industries unveiled plans for the Great Lakes Nautical Museum, Children's Adventure and Learning Center, Naval Museum Ship and Cyclorama. The $25 million complex is scheduled to open in 2004. 

"The Great Lakes Nautical Museum, Children's Adventure and Learning Center, Naval Museum Ship and Cyclorama will be the ultimate boatwatchers' experience," said Soar Pointe Industries CEO and Chairman Rod Dover. "Great Lakes shipping buffs from around the world will come to this museum to indulge their passion for the boats. Children will learn about an important but little-understood industry. This will become one of Michigan's great tourist destinations as people discover the Heartland and learn about the many tankers, package freighters, submarines and floating warehouses that sail the lakes." 

The museum complex will be built on a large undeveloped parcel of Lake Michigan shoreline. It will include a 150,000-square-foot museum building, an adjoining 75,000-square-foot learning center and a 20,000-square-foot building for the cyclorama. A parking lot will hold 500 cars and buses. 

"Building on this pristine site is the best way to preserve it for future generations and make it accessible to everyone," Dover said. "People who normally wouldn't have time to enjoy the beauty of Michigan's unique shoreline dune environment will now be able to pull right up in their cars, walk the asphalt trails and experience nature first-hand through our interpretive exhibits." 

The Great Lakes Nautical Museum will feature interpretive exhibits, hands-on learning stations, computers linked to the Internet, "knowledge modules" and "experience pods." No nautical artifacts or photographs will be included in the museum, but they may be added in future expansions, Dover said.  

Adjacent to the museum will be a Children's Adventure and Learning Center filled with interpretive exhibits, hands-on learning stations, computers linked to the Internet, "experience pods" and "knowledge modules" featuring ships from the around the world, including cruise ships, supertankers and submarines. Children will be able to build their own ships which can then be transformed into flying robots and laser weapons.  

"The kids won't necessarily allow their parents to come here just to see exhibits about boats on the Great Lakes, so we need exhibits that will hold their interest while still teaching them valuable lessons," Dover noted.  

Among the highlights of the complex will be the addition of the retired U.S. Navy cruiser USS Poughkeepsie. Although the ship has nothing to do with the Great Lakes, it's essential to making the museum complex work, said Ian Llareggub, Director of Learning for the Children's Adventure and Learning Center. 

"Children won't necessarily allow their parents to visit a museum that doesn't have some sort of warship. We need guns to make this project work, so the USS Poughkeepsie is vital to making this a success," Llareggub told reporters. "This will also be an important way of honoring our nation's veterans. I'd also like to point out that any local environmental groups that oppose this project will clearly be opposed to our veterans." 

Addition of the USS Poughkeepsie to the project has generated some controversy in Grumpus. The city's Municipal Exterior Decorating Committee earlier ruled that the ship's haze grey color did not comply with regulations for Grumpus's Waterfront Historical District constructed in the mid-1980s. To meet the color regulations, directors of the museum project have agreed to paint the cruiser "a pleasant shade of beige." 

"As we all know, beige goes with anything. So this approach will fit any color schemes the city devises," Llareggub said. 

Completing the museum complex will be a Cyclorama built in grand traditional style. As visitors stand in the Cyclorama's center stage, the entire history of Great Lakes shipping will pass before their eyes as the Cyclorama turns. 

"Visitors will see such sites as Nicolet discovering Green Bay and claiming it for himself, construction of Cleveland's Lakefront Stadium, George Bush learning to land on an aircraft carrier in Lake Michigan and the nuclear submarines that patrol our Great Lakes today," Dover said. "It will be very inspiring."

Dover said the Great Lakes Nautical Museum, Children's Adventure and Learning Center, Naval Museum Ship and Cyclorama will provide 127 "good paying jobs."

"We'll top whatever Wendy's is paying by 50 cents an hour," he said.

"The Great Lakes Nautical Museum, Children's Adventure and Learning Center, Naval Museum Ship and Cyclorama will be financed privately and be entirely self-sustaining except for the $24.9 million in municipal bonding, loan guarantees, free land, and licensing agreements.

Entrance fees for the complex will be $15 for children, $20 for adults plus $5 for parking. "We want to keep this affordable for the families," Dover pointed out.

"We may need to remove some historical buildings in downtown Grumpus so they don't block the views of our uniquely designed complex of buildings," Dover added. "But that will a small price to pay for this project."



Delayed Posting of Soo Webcams

April 1:
Due to heightened national security, the U.S. Boatnerd Network (USBN) will be delaying the posting of web images from the locks.  The delay will be random, ranging from several minutes to much longer periods.  At least the images will still be available for viewing.  Initial discussions focused on shutting down the webcams.

Click here to view the Delayed Soo Locks Webcams




Iron Nerd International Triathalon set for June 31

April 1:  

The Boat Nerd Network will sponsor the new Iron Nerd Triathalon this summer in the beautiful lakefront resort of Grumpus, Michigan, network officials announced today.

The Iron Nerd Triathalon will test the prowess, strength and dedication of even the most determined boat nerd.

The event begins in downtown Detroit. Boat nerds will run a marathon of 26 miles along the St. Clair River, stopping at specified points to shoot pictures of passing lakers. The marathon ends at Port Huron, where the nerds will swim across the river to Sarnia to get photos of a cool boat. Once on the other side, the nerds will then board their bicycles on a 20-mile ride down the Canadian side of the St. Clair River photograph lighthouses along the way.

First-place winner will receive an all-expenses-paid week at the Grumpus Sands Resort.
Second-place winner will receive the Shipmaster III DeLuxe Pack.
Third-place winner will receive a year's subscription to the Boat Nerd Network.


Really Know Your Ships 2003

April 1:

Roger and Neil having had phenomenal success with Great Laker Magazine have allocated a small portion of their profits to purchase a surplus Russian satellite and have named it Boatnik 1.  Boatnik 1 has been placed into orbit and is on station to provide coverage of the Great Lakes region.  Via Internet access, people from throughout the world will now be able to view Great Lake boats in incredible detail.    Boatnik 1’s capabilities include close-up images, distinct smell and sound features.  For example; you can view any vessel, day or night, in any weather and zoom into to discern the year of a visible dime.  The smell features are such that you could determine what type of salad dressing is being offered at a galley meal.  The sound feature has filtering capabilities such that you can hear a 2nd Engineering Officer in an operational engine room.  At the bottom of each image will be pertinent data on the vessel and its history.  Due to security concerns, the vessels location will be confidential. 

The key to all of this is that it can be “YOU” using Boatnik 1’s capabilities with Really Know Your Ships 2003.

Roger and Neil have covered all of the satellite acquisition and launch costs and will make Really Know Your Ships 2003 services available to subscribers on “Pay per View” basis.  Rates are currently being established.    

Reported by: Doug Fairchild



Local Company Announces Plans for New Tourist Attraction

April 1:

Big Rapids, MI -   Today at a news conference held at the Kelly Center, W.L. Enterprises announced plans to purchase the ex great lakes freighter Edward R. Ryerson for a new bed and breakfast to be located in the central area of Michigan.

"Negations are currently underway" stated Diane Kelly, President and CEO of W.L. Enterprises, a local company that manages several businesses in the area. "We hope to wrap up these negations with the steamship company within the next 30 days".  Ms. Kelly also stated "we feel that we will be able to meet our goals of having the Ryerson relocated and in operation within the next 12 months".

"We have inspected the ship and have decided that it will suit our needs for conversion to a bed and breakfast operation at a to be announced location in the Big Rapids area. We are currently looking at docks in the area of the Oak Tree Park".  The Ryerson, currently located at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin has been in lay up since December 1998.

"The management at W.L.Enterprises feels that the Great Lakes boatnerds of central Michigan will support us. Our studies have shown the the need for boat related activities in the area are very large. By locating the boat in central Michigan, we can serve the needs of these customers much better".

"We are also planning in the future to offer even dinner cruises for our guests on the beautiful Muskegon River. The engineering department at W.L Enterprises has told me that this can be a very cost effective way of adding to the new business".

The boat currently would have space for 28 overnight guests, in various rooms currently onboard. With additional space in converted cargo holds it could be expanded. "We are looking at pricing the room rates at $200.00 per night, per person for a crew bunk, up to $500.00 for the Captains quarters. Breakfasts will be served in the tow dining rooms onboard or out on the decks during summer months. A special discount will be available to past crew members of this boat. Prices however will increase with the addition of the dinner cruises."

In a surprise announcement during this conference, Ms Kelly also said, "If we find the need great enough, we will bring another boat to the area, possible the John Sherwin, presently located in the Duluth Minnesota area. We will serve the needs of central Michigan boatnerds."


Reported by: Becky Speers


Today in Great Lakes History - April 1

On this day in 1911, the Great Lakes' first and only 1,000-foot straightdecker was launched in  Superior. However, the vessel went into long-term lay-up a short time later when its builder, Rufus  McGillicuddy, belatedly realized the vessel could not pass through the Soo Locks.

In 1970, descendants of shipbuilder Rufus McGillicuddy unveiled the 1,000-foot McGillicuddy Perambulator - a straightdecker with powered articulated legs that could "walk" around the Soo Locks. The vessel was scrapped a short time later when the builders realized the Poe Lock had  opened the previous year.


April Fools Click here for today's real news

April Fools page contributors: Tom Hynes, Dick Lund, Doug Fairchild,  Roger LeLievre, Al Miller and Neil Schultheiss