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Ontario Government Limits Diver Access to Storied Shipwrecks

Divers wishing to explore the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald and two other Great Lakes shipwrecks in Canadian waters will need a license from the Ontario Ministry of Culture under a newly approved regulation. The rule also limits access to the Hamilton and the Scourge, merchant schooners that sank in Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. "The sites we have chosen for special protection are unique," Culture Minister Madeleine Meilleur said in a news release. "We want to ensure that these fragile underwater sites -- all of which contain human remains -- are treated with care and respect." The regulation was imposed under the Ontario Heritage Act, which was revised last year to toughen penalties for looting or intentionally damaging marine archaeological sites, including heritage shipwrecks.

The Fitzgerald, a 729-foot iron ore carrier, sank in Lake Superior during a fierce storm Nov. 10, 1975. All 29 crewmen died, and their bodies were not recovered. Fifty-three of the 72 crewmen aboard the Hamilton and Scourge were killed when the ships went down in August 1813 north of Port Dalhousie. Their gravesite, 300 feet deep, was discovered in 1975 and explored separately by Jacques Cousteau and the National Geographic Society. Several groups have used mini-submarines and robotic cameras to inspect the Fitzgerald wreckage, located 530 feet below the surface about 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point. The ship, broken in two, lies just across the international border on the Canadian side.

During a privately financed 1994 expedition, leader Fred Shannon of Mount Morris announced his team had discovered and photographed a body on the lake bottom near the pilot house. The partly decomposed remains could not be identified. But Shannon angered some relatives of Fitzgerald crew members by using brief images of the remains in a documentary video. They urged Canadian officials to declare the wreck site off-limits to future explorations. "We've always contended that this is the men's gravesite," Cheryl Rozman, daughter of Fitzgerald watchman Ransom "Ray" Cundy, said Monday. "It gives us family members peace of mind to know that the site will be protected from unauthorized visits."

She and other relatives backed the Michigan Legislature's enactment in 1997 of a law making it a felony to photograph human remains on Great Lakes bottomlands without consent of the victim's next of kin. In 1999, family and friends of the crew held a consecration service aboard a Coast Guard cutter at the spot where the ship went down. Doing so, they said, created a moral obligation to treat the site with the same respect as a cemetery.

The Ministry of Culture statement did not say what criteria would be used to evaluate requests for licenses to explore the shipwrecks. Rozman said an official had assured her that approval wouldn't come easily, and qualifying would be expensive. "They told me you'd have to have real good reasons to do that -- archaeological or scientific," she said.

From the Associated Press


Upgrades Made to Ore Dock

1/31 - Marquette, MI - Work crews are busy making upgrades to the Lake Superior and Ishpeming ore dock in Marquette's Upper Harbor that will make the dock safer and more efficient.

The two-phase project entails making it easier for workers to open iron ore chutes. According to Cleveland Cliffs officials, contractors are automating the doors on the south side of the dock this year. The north side is scheduled for completion in 2007.

Currently, workers have to kick rods to engage a mechanical system that lowers the chutes. The new system is designed to take fewer people to unload ore from the dock and will make the LS&I facility "conducive to less accidents," officials said.


Rochester Ferry Terminal Still Tied Up
Failed operators retain control till 2044; city looks at options

1/31 - Rochester, NY - In the knot of ferry-related contracts that Mayor Robert Duffy now wants to unravel, one pact may have more lasting implications than all the others. That is the deal that ceded control of Rochester's gleaming ferry terminal — until May 31, 2044 — to the failed ferry operators themselves. A legal concession by city officials two years ago, which went unnoticed at the time but stirred controversy later, allowed the operators to retain their lease on the city-owned terminal's commercial space even after they pulled the plug on the Toronto-Rochester ferry less than three months after service began.

Their company, Maplestar Development, pays the city just $1 per year and keeps all the rent it collects from the terminal's restaurants and shops. It also may have some claim on adjacent berthing areas where visiting vessels can tie up. Now that Duffy has canceled the struggling ferry project altogether and has begun looking toward new development at the Charlotte port, the long-term lease has become problematic. "We need to aggressively look at whether we can get control of that space again. I think it's important," said City Council President Lois Giess. "We really need to have that space to develop the harbor town that we want. That's obviously critical if we're going to start getting cruise ships come in or some alternative (ferry) service."

The existence of the lease also could prove embarrassing in light of the disclosure last week that the business dealings of the ferry operators could be the subject of criminal investigations by federal and state authorities. The principals behind Maplestar and Canadian American Transportation Systems, the sister company that ran the ferry, are businessmen and local natives Brian F. Prince and Dominick DeLucia, former city officials say.

Both Mayor Duffy and his corporation counsel, Thomas Richards, have said they went to break or buy out the Maplestar lease. A spokesman said last week that the city will concentrate first on selling the ferry, which the city acquired after CATS halted the service in September 2004. "It (the lease) is on our mind. We know it's there. We're going to get to it. Clearly, that is not one of our priority areas at this time," Duffy spokesman Gary Walker said Wednesday. Walker declined to discuss the lease in any detail.

When the city and CATS came to terms in 2002 on the planned ferry operation, the city agreed to lease the terminal to the company for 40 years at $1 a year. The lease included control of both the interior commercial space and the exterior berths along the Genesee River shoreline. After being explicitly assured that the lease would be voided if CATS failed to operate the ferry as planned, City Council approved the lease in August 2001, along with other elements of the ferry project. The lease was signed the following month. In December 2003, with construction of the vessel nearly completed and work well under way on the $19 million terminal, CATS subleased the premises to its sister company Maplestar, a maneuver allowed under the lease agreement.

And two months after that, Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. signed a "non-disturbance" agreement guaranteeing that Maplestar would retain control of the terminal space until 2044 even if CATS dropped the ferry project. CATS, of course, did just that, halting ferry service in September 2004 after less than three months of operation. The firm later defaulted on loan payments, and the Johnson administration ended up purchasing the vessel at a foreclosure auction in early 2005.

In the meantime, Maplestar continues to control the terminal space leased to restaurants and shops. The city controls the public space at the terminal and exterior areas, including the berth where the ferry currently is tied up. Kingsley said the city had informed Maplestar that it believed it had control over all the berths along the Genesee River shoreline by the terminal where vessels can tie up, though she said Maplestar "kept indicating to us in writing they didn't agree." The issue "never came to a head," she noted. Several of the remaining tenants at the terminal spoke positively about the company's performance as landlord.

"Maplestar, in my eyes, has done everything they could to help us. They would bend over backwards for us," said Bill Briggs, co-owner of Lakeside Floral and Antique Gallery. "We don't have a problem with them. Everything has been fine," said Mike Bauer, owner of the Cheeburger restaurant in the terminal.

Several business owners, including Briggs, said Maplestar has reduced their rent in the slow winter months. Only three of the seven surviving retail businesses in the terminal are open. The other four, including the Cheeburger franchise and Lakeside Floral, plan to reopen in March.

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Boatnerd Calendar of Events

The Boatnerd Calendar of Events has been started for 2006. If your organization would like to be listed, please use the handy form available on the Calendar of Events page.

Click on the icon in the upper right corner, or send the information to


Port Report - January 31

Goderich - Dale Baecher
Algoway came into the harbour late Monday night and went to load at Sifto Salt. She departed Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. and headed south to Windsor.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 31

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 31

MANZZUTTI was launched January 31, 1903, as a.) J S KEEFE (Hull#203) at Buffalo, New York by the Buffalo Dry Dock Co.

January 31, 1930 - While the Grand Trunk carferry MADISON was leading the way across Lake Michigan to Grand Haven, she was struck from behind by her sister ship GRAND RAPIDS.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Report - January 30

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
Both the Burns Harbor and the Mesabi Miner were in the inner harbor in Milwaukee early Sunday afternoon, looking as if they were well settling in for their winter lay-over.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 30

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 30

ELMDALE was launched in 1909, as a.) CLIFFORD F MOLL (Hull#56) at Ecorse, Michigan by the Great Lakes Engineering Works.

The CHIEF WAWATAM was held up in the ice for a period of three weeks. On January 30, 1927, she went aground at North Graham Shoal in the Straits. She was later dry-docked at Great Lakes Engineering Works in Detroit where her forward propeller and after port wheel were replaced.

January 30, 1911 - The second PERE MARQUETTE 18 arrived Ludington, Michigan on her maiden voyage.

On 30 January 1881, ST ALBANS (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 135 foot, 435 tons, built in 1869, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying general merchandise, flour, cattle and 22 passengers in Lake Michigan. She rammed a cake of ice that filled the hole it made in her hull. She rushed for shore, but as the ice melted, the vessel filled with water. She sank 8 miles from Milwaukee. The crew and passengers made it to safety in the lifeboats. Her loss was valued at $35,000.

On 30 January 2000, crew began the removal of the four Hulett Ore Unloaders on Whiskey Island in Cleveland.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Marquette's Ore Dock Eyed for Development

1/29 - Marquette, MI - Businessman Gary Kropp, a Marquette native and current Milwaukee resident has proposed a unique blend of public and private space, for Marquette's Lower Harbor Ore Dock, while keeping it mostly in tact.
"I began to think about how it could be an asset to the community and not a liability. The main thing that kept coming to my mind is making the ore dock accessible to the public," said Kropp.

The public access portion of the plan includes a 12 foot walkway around the perimeter of the dock, and two open areas at both ends. The end closer to shore will be available for wedding receptions, and other large gatherings. Inside, around 40 condos will be available...all with North and South exposures.

"And how do we pay? It takes a lot of money for the development of the walkway and to pay for the public interior space. And the way to pay for that is by selling condominiums," said Kropp. Plus, other funding Kropp is trying to secure. But for now, the main objective is to get the public on board with his vision.

"I think the people can see how this can be a good asset for the city and a wonderful place to spend time in the summer."

The city planning commission voted to send the matter to the Marquette City Commission for approval in September. The city has scheduled a public hearing scheduled or seven o'clock on Monday night.

Reported by Mike Arendt from WLUG TV6 in Marquette


Port Reports - January 29

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Upon completion of the repairs to her bow at the elevator dock, Peter R. Cresswell shifted ahead to the Sifto dock to resume loading her cargo Friday night. Algoway came into port through the night and is tied up in the new harbour Saturday morning waiting for the Cresswell to finish.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Shortly after noon Saturday, the new LaFarge name tug Samuel de Champlain (ex-Norfolk) finished her final performance trials off the state park north of Sturgeon Bay and returned to the shipyard. She dropped off personnel and by mid afternoon had departed heading for Lake Michigan and her maiden run under her new name for Muskegon, MI. There she will go through final fit out before returning to Sturgeon Bay in Spring to mate-up with the new cement barge Innovation (Bay SB Hull #760). In open water and underway, she is a pretty impressive looking tug.

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
Vessel Traffic and tonnage reports for 2005 at the Gateway Metroport Terminal in Lackawanna came in during late January. There were 45 ships using the port this past season with Petroleum Coke and Limestone as the leading cargoes. Fifty-four trains were loaded at the facility totaling 4,300 rail cars.

Specialty cargoes from overseas included shipments of press equipment for the Ford Buffalo Stamping Plant from Brazil and Germany.

Improvements at the Lackawanna Slip unloading apron involved the installation of flood light towers for 24 hour a day operations along with a new rail car unloader. Future development possibilities may include enclosed bulk storage facilities dependant on the port securing long term contracts within the next few years.

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
As of early Sunday afternoon the Burns Harbor and the Mesabi Miner had arrived in Milwaukee for the winter layover. Heat was clearly still rising from the stacks of the Miner, leading one to conclude that it was a relatively recent arrival. Another 1000-footer had been just outside the harbor part of Friday afternoon. It was likely the Burns Harbor, which backed in and docked at the Advanced Boiler dock. The Miner came straight in and is at the Heavy Lift dock.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 29

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 29

The BUCKEYE was launched January 29, 1910, as the straight decker a.) LEONARD B MILLER (Hull#447) at Cleveland, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

JOHN P. REISS (Hull#377) was also launched this date in 1910, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

January 29, 1987 - The BADGER almost capsized at her dock due to a broken water intake pipe.

On 29 January 1953, RICHARD M MARSHALL (steel propeller freighter, 643 foot, 10,606 gross tons) was launched in Bay City, Michigan at Defoe's shipyard (Hull #424). Later she was named JOSEPH S WOOD (1957), JOHN DYKSTRA (1966), and BENSON FORD (1983). She was scrapped in 1987 at Recife, Brazil.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 28

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Burns Harbor cancelled her load from Escanaba. The Joseph L. Block is the only ship which continues to be on the schedule for the next few days.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Mesabi Miner loaded at Escanaba Friday, but had trouble leaving the dock because of high winds which kept pushing her out of the channel as she attempted to back away from the dock. The Great Lakes Trader/Joyce VanEnkevort was at the dock waiting for her turn to load. When the Miner continued to have trouble, the Trader offered the use of her tug. With the help of the Joyce VanEnkevort, the Mesabi Miner was finally able to back out. The tug then also assisted in pushing the bow when the strong winds again pushed the Miner off track. After the Mesabi Miner left, the Great Lakes Trader began her load on south side of the dock before moving to the north side to complete the load.

The Biscayne Bay made a stop in Escanaba, but had little ice to break. What ice was there was very thin and unstable. Fishing shanties were plentiful in the bays around Gladstone, however.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 28

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Mittal Bids for No. 2 Steel Maker

1/27 - Mittal Steel Co., the biggest steelmaker in the world and owner of the former LTV properties in Cleveland, has made a $23 billion bid to buy the No. 2 firm in its industry.

Mittal wants to take over Arcelor SA, which is based in France. Arcelor itself just won a bidding war for a big Canadian steel firm, Dofasco. Mittal said its plans included selling Dofasco to the company that lost that fight, ThyssenKrupp AG of Germany.

Mittal is based in the Netherlands, but its India-born CEO, Lakshmi Mittal, lives in London. It owns part or all of steel operations in 16 countries. That alone sums up the increasingly international spread of the biggest steel makers.

Mittal News Release


Soo International Bridge Walk Scheduled for June 24

This once a year opportunity to walk across the Soo International Bridge will be gathering at LSSU's Norris Center at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 24. The walk has been scheduled one week before Engineer's Day to avoid conflict with the Canadian Holiday on July 1.

In previous years, the Bridge Walk has been the day after Engineer's Day. The 2006 Engineer's Day is scheduled for June 30.

Don't miss this experience to walk across the International Bridge into Canada. Buses will be on hand to bring people back to the Norris Center at a charge of $1.00 per person or $5.00 per family. For more information contact the Sault Chamber of Commerce at (906)632-3301.


Port Report - January 27

Goderich - Dale Baechler
After a fuel stop in Sarnia Wednesday night, Peter R. Cresswell headed into the new harbour at Goderich, then backed around and took up her position at the Sifto Salt dock Thursday morning. A bright sunny day with -10C degree temperatures, a thin coating of ice had begun to form. She was on the dock by 10:00 a.m. with the assistance of the MacDonald Marine tugs.

Canadian Progress made her way into port Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. The outer harbour and channel are now covered with light ice that had blown in yesterday with the northwesterly winds. She is now loading at Sifto.

Thursday afternoon saw Peter R. Cresswell shifting over to the elevator dock with her bow high out of the water and her stern deep, after only loading enough cargo to get the boat to this draught. Obviously a problem has occurred and some work is under way, but is unknown at this time.

Port Huron - Frank Frisk
The first of several billboards, advertising Vantage Point and the Boatnerd World Headquarters, is in place. Several members on Port Huron Shipmasters Lodge #2 noticed the 48 foot Goliath-size signs on their way into the meeting. Captain Joe Ruch, S.S. Charles M. Beeghly, was in attendance of the meeting and seemed pleased to have his ship on the expressway !!


Photo Gallery Updates - January 27

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Wind Puts Washington Island Ferry in Rough Seas

1/26 - The strong wind that blew across Door County late Tuesday afternoon made for a challenging day on Lake Michigan. Wind gusts estimated at 50 miles per hour blowing between the peninsula and Washington Island made the journey tricky for the captains of the Washington Island Ferry.

In the winter, the ferry makes two daily round trips, depending on the weather. Tuesday it was almost only a trip-and-a-half. "The wind is just starting to pick up now. It's probably blowing 35 to 40, so we're going to get home before that sea builds up," said Erik Foss, Washington Island Ferry Line captain.

Foss says when the winds pick up, docking and then pulling out are big problems. "Right now it will be getting away from the dock. The wind is going to affect us, it's going to want to keep us close to the dock. We have to back away and clear the wind out there. It will be a challenge."

Once out of the dock and out on the open water, the wind-chopped waves, not the wind itself, can cause chaos. "You have to watch the waves this time of year, especially when the waves break over the bow. They freeze on deck and you have a big skating rink," Foss said.

From WBAY-TV Green Bay.


Law Limiting Rochester Ferry Confirmed
Foreign-built ship under Bahamas flag can't sail only to U.S. ports

1/26 - Rochester, NY - The pool of potential buyers for the high-speed ferry is shallower than initially thought, as officials confirmed Tuesday that maritime law prohibits the ship from ever traversing between two U.S. ports. Federal law requires that ships doing business between U.S. ports be American-made and -flagged. The ferry is neither, having been built in Australia and still sailing under the Bahamian flag.

"That's the problem," said John Woods, a maritime lawyer in New York City who sits on the Maritime Law Association board. "They've got to find a buyer that will take it out of the U.S." — or another operator that will sail to Canada, he added. Bay Ferries Great Lakes LLC, which managed the ship, operates two such international routes between Maine and Nova Scotia.

The legal snag is potentially significant in determining how much taxpayers ultimately will owe on the failed ferry venture. Mayor Robert Duffy this month decided to end the Rochester-to-Toronto service and sell the ship, then start repaying more than $40 million in debt. Corporation Counsel Thomas Richards has said the expectation is the ship would leave the Great Lakes, and the best scenario is to attract serious interest from two or more buyers. "The real issue is how much we get for the ferry, and how fast we sell it. That trumps everything," Richards said Tuesday. Minutes earlier, the ferry board voted to borrow up to $9.4 million from city insurance reserves for shut-down expenses. That money will be repaid once the ship is sold with the rest going toward debt.

Separate sections of federal code dealing with passenger and commercial traffic combine to limit the ship's value in the U.S. market, said Kevin Corsaro, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. Richards said he was just beginning to understand maritime applications of the law but added it's too early to say who might be a serious buyer. City and state officials had mentioned the New York harbor as a possible home for the ship. Duffy has said a liaison for a group of Turkish investors also has contacted the city. Richards said the city will decide in the next couple of weeks whether to hire a broker to sell the ship.

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Port Huron Marine Mart Announced

The annual Port Huron Marine Memorabilia Flea Market will be held at the Seaway Terminal on June 3, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Vendors will be offering artifacts, pictures, books, postcards and marine art. The event is sponsored by the Port Huron Museum, Acheson Ventures and Lake Huron Lore Marine Society. For additional information contact T. J. Gaffney at 810-982-0891, ext. 16 or


Photo Gallery Updates - January 26

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Bad Weather Keeps Both Macs in Port

1/25 - Cheboygan - With no ice, there's certainly no hurry. That was the overwhelming feeling Tuesday at the Millard D. Olds Memorial Moorings, where both Cheboygan-based Coast Guard icebreakers stayed in port, delaying their operations schedules while a storm moved through the area packing gale-force winds and limiting visibility with snowfall.

“The forecast was just more than we felt necessary to get involved with for training purposes,” said Ensign Matthew Kempe, public affairs officer for the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw. “It's pointless to go out and train on the big lake when the conditions in the river alone would be detrimental to our drills.” The original Mackinaw was set to depart at 9 a.m. Tuesday, but also chose to stay safely tied to the dock with no vessels in imminent danger on the lakes. The new Mackinaw was scheduled to go to sea 30 minutes later, but also stayed put.

Both ships will likely wait out the storm before sailing, heading out perhaps today or Thursday, Kempe said. “These types of conditions aren't good for learning anchoring or anything else we plan to do,” he explained.

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Port Report - January 25

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Crews were crawling around the tug G.L. Ostrander and cement barge Integrity on Monday afternoon and Tuesday, running out at least ten mooring lines and spring lines and putting down the barge's anchor. Ostrander/Integrity is laid up at the LaFarge silo/terminal in the inner harbor, only a few yards north of the hibernating JAW Iglehart.

Meanwhile, with Tuesday's high winds from the west, two vessels were anchored, seeking shelter in Milwaukee Bay, outside the breakwater. The nearer of these vessels appeared to be Interlake's tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder, which was observed as it approached just off Milwaukee's north shore suburbs at about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 25

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Both Macs are Ready to Depart Tuesday

1/24 - Cheboygan - The weather may not be the best, but the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw can take it. So can the ship that has done the job for more than 60 years. Despite a forecast calling for gale-force winds, the new Mac was scheduled to depart the Cheboygan River around 9:30 a.m. today, 30 minutes after the original Mackinaw sails. Both ships are expected to take advantage of land masses to block the high winds and heavy seas, with the 1944 Mackinaw likely hugging Michigan's eastern shore while making its way down Lake Huron. The 2005 Mackinaw will conduct training availability exercises in the lee of Bois Blanc Island.

“TRAV exercises will be a good thing to get us back into shape after sitting here for a month,” affirmed Ensign Matthew Kempe, the ship's public affairs officer. “We will conduct many types of training to prepare us for normal operations, including icebreaking.” Kempe said the travels could include a possible trip up the St. Mary's River, but will concentrate on operations in the Straits of Mackinac and west into Lake Michigan. “I doubt if we will get any further south than the Traverse City area,” he noted, adding that the vessel will return home by the end of the week only to depart again next week. “We'll also need to get fuel at some point although we're OK for now.”

The new Mackinaw is under the command of Capt. Michael Hudson, who has been in charge for more than five weeks. The ship tested radar and other systems Monday at the Millard D. Olds Memorial Moorings in preparation for the trip.

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


2006 Shipping Season Gets Early Start

1/24 - Green Bay - Warm weather helped produce one of the longest shipping seasons ever in Green Bay in 2005, and it could be one of the earliest beginnings in 2006 if the above-normal warm temperatures continue. There is no solid date to stop shipping in Green Bay, it just depends on the ice, and there hasn't been much this year.

A satellite image of Green Bay and Lake Michigan taken January 14th showed a wide open lane all the way from the mouth to the tip of the bay. Four days later the ice had moved but still nothing was solid. In another satellite photo taken Monday, the ice had grown but still isn't solid, likely isn't thick, and if it stays that way, the boats can come back any time.

That's a tempting option for businesses with docks along the Fox River. Many of them stocked their coal supplies, salt and sand, or lumber and wood pulp early in winter, not thinking the waterways would be this wide open to allow them to get any more. With ice this thin, though, Green Bay's port might not be closed for long. "We had to just say okay, that's the end. But we're open for 2006 at any time that the weather conditions allow us to be open," Green Bay port manager Dean Haen said.

Most of the time local companies switch their shipping to trains this time of year. That can be more expensive, though, and the cost gets passed on to you, the consumer, which makes the water the preferred way to go. "You can move such a large quantity of material, maybe 18- to 20,000 tons in one shipment," Haen noted. Not knowing what the weather holds for the months ahead, some companies say they may just wait. Others say if there's a boat ready to come, they're ready to bring it in.

From WBAY-TV Green Bay


New Mackinaw Underway for Training

1/24 - Cheboygan, MI. -- For the first time since its arrival, the new Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw is scheduled to get underway for training Tuesday morning.

The Mackinaw will steam for about five days to conduct conning officer, navigation and damage control training. The ship will anchor at Bois Blanc Island and at the lower end of St. Mary's River before it completes the second phase of its two-week shakedown cruise.

The Mackinaw is scheduled to begin ice trials at the end of February.

Mackinaw is a one-of-a-kind 240-foot icebreaker and buoy tender, built at the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard. The Coast Guard's Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Project, a major acquisition to replace the WW II-era Mackinaw (WAGB-83), began in 2001 when the contract was awarded to Marinette Marine. Mackinaw is the 31st ship to be built for the Coast Guard by Marinette Marine.

USCG Press Release


Fair-Weather Ferries Offer a Ticket to End Cabin Fever

1/24 - Catawba Island, Ohio - Carol Gentry sat in her car and beamed. On Saturday, for the first time since 1990, when she and her husband, Terry, moved to Put-in-Bay, she was able to take her car to the mainland in the middle of January. "This is so much better!" she said with a big smile, seated in her car yesterday to ride the ferry back to South Bass Island. She was among about 15 people who bought tickets for the 10:30 a.m. boat run by Miller Boat Line.

The service stopped running December 9 because of colder-than-usual weather but resumed last week after the last of the ice around South Bass melted. Julene Market said no one in her family, which has owned the ferry service since 1978, can recall operating this late in January. "Our boat line has never opened back up midwinter," she said. "Everybody's saying the same thing everywhere: how unusual the weather this winter is."

A cold snap or a shift in prevailing winds could force the company to dock its ferries at any time, but for now, the boat line is running two morning trips and two afternoon trips between Catawba Island Township and South Bass Island.

Matthew Miller, a captain for the boat line, said islanders are taking advantage of the warm weather to visit friends and family members, shop, and do errands. "We've had a fair amount of people going back and forth and doing some of the mainland activities they don't normally enjoy this time of year," he said. Normally, islanders who need to reach the mainland in the winter have to fly, which can cost $80 roundtrip. The same trip on the ferry costs $12 a person, plus $28 for a vehicle.

Those headed to the island yesterday cited the price difference as a major factor in their decision to use the boat. Matt Dandar, an aircraft engine distributor from Tiffin, was heading over to repair a customer's Hovercraft engine. "Normally, I'd fly over, but since the ferry's running, I'm going to save him a few bucks," he said.

Cathy Magers, who lives on the island, was thrilled to have the chance to take her car to an annual family get-together. "It's nice," she said, smiling as most customers seemed to be doing. "It's cheaper. It's wonderful." Also back on the water is the Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line, running twice daily between the island and Marblehead.

Kelleys Island Mayor Rob Quinn said the ferry service shut down last month as the lake nearly froze over. "There were actually some ice shanties out on the lake, and I thought that was going to be the beginning of one of our longest, coldest winters," he said. Instead, the boat line resumed service shortly after New Year's Day, which was a pleasant surprise for islanders, Mr. Quinn said. "It really helps them," he said. "The schedule is limited. There's one trip in the morning and one trip in the afternoon, but it allows them to get off, spend the day over there, and come back." A few property owners who are building homes on Kelleys Island also have taken advantage of the restarted service to ship construction materials from the mainland, Mr. Quinn said. "I know it's helping the construction trades a lot," he said.

For Miller line ticket-taker Valerie Kochensparger, the unexpected call back to work meant a break from doing the home repairs she had started. "This gives my wrist a break from painting," she said. "It's nice." Customers have been delighted with the break from their usual winter routines. "One guy was all happy to get McDonald's," she said, chuckling. "You don't think about that, but when you're stuck on an island all winter…."


Port of Toledo Increases Cargo by 14 Percent

1/24 - Toledo, Ohio --- A new stevedore and a new, aggressive marketing program has helped the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority increase cargoes shipped through the Port of Toledo by 14 percent, according to James H. Hartung, president and chief executive officer of the Port Authority. Cargo increased from 9,387,319 short tons in 2004 to 10,727,255 in 2005.

Hartung was quick to credit Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon and new stevedore, Midwest Terminals International of Toledo, who developed new cargoes to diversify the Port’s cargo. Midwest Terminals International of Toledo took over as stevedore at the General Cargo Docks in October 2004. “We can’t say enough about the job Midwest has done to market this port and increase cargo,” said Hartung. “Working with Warren [McCrimmon], they have helped us rebound from what was a down year in 2004.”

New cargoes were the cornerstone of the port’s rebound in 2005, according to McCrimmon. “We’ve traditionally relied on coal and iron ore as our principle cargoes at the Port of Toledo,” said McCrimmon. “Now we are emerging as a distribution point for European lumber in the Midwest and aluminum ingots for the automotive industry.”

The Port’s biggest increase was in the area of general cargo which includes lumber, steel, aluminum, and miscellaneous cargoes. General cargo throughput increased by 34 percent in 2005. Coal and iron ore also rebounded in 2005 with a 21 percent increase for coal and 34 percent increase for iron ore.

Starting this year, the Port of Toledo will be open the entire year to serve domestic and Canadian shippers on the Great Lakes. “Weather permitting, we’ll be able to load and unload ships during the winter months,” said McCrimmon. “We’ve already had a couple vessels in for the 2006 shipping season, giving us a two month head start on the shipping season which has traditionally started in March.”

“I congratulate Warren McCrimmon and Midwest Terminals President Alex Johnson for a job well done in 2005,” said Hartung. “With an aggressive stevedore and a rebounding economy, the Port of Toledo can look forward to a strong and profitable 2006.”

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority news release


Port Report - January 24

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
On Monday morning the Kaye E. Barker was clearly in a lay-up status at the wall between Nidera Grain and St. Mary's cement at the south end of Milwaukee's inner harbor. Both bow anchors and the stern anchor were down, multiple lines and spring lines secured the vessel to the dock, and the steering pole was pulled back and secured against the pilothouse.

Monday morning, tug G. L. Ostrander and barge Integrity arrived in the inner harbor, pivoted in the turning basin, and docked at the LaFarge Terminal.

Also Monday morning, Andrie tug Barbara Andrie and fuel barge A-390 were at the Jacobus liquid cargo pier in the outer harbor. Monday afternoon, another Andrie tug/barge combination, Rebecca Lynn and tanker barge A-410, arrived in the inner harbor, pivoted and docked to unload at the inner harbor tank farm north of UW-Sea Grant.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 24

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Cheboygan Restaurant Manager Takes Issue with Coast Guard Report
Coulter says party involving Triner was not undisciplined

1/23 - Cheboygan - Say it ain't so, Captain. Say it ain't so. That is the reaction from a restaurant manager who witnessed the December 17 events that eventually proved to be the undoing of the commanding officer of the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw.

“The manner in which the representatives of both Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw crews have displayed themselves at our establishment would do more to vindicate themselves than to draw condemnation,” explained Brant Coulter, general manager of Mulligan's restaurant, 322 N. Main St. “On the night in question, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there were no instances that drew my attention on any level other than that of good cheer.”

Rear Adm. Robert Papp, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, recommended that Capt. Donald Triner be permanently relieved of his command after separate investigations following an accident while entering the Grand Haven harbor December 12 and allegations of inappropriate use of alcohol by Triner and some members of his crew at Mulligan's following a welcoming reception at the Gold Dust Ballroom after the ship arrived December 17.

Papp cited “loss of confidence in Triner's ability to command” in his decision to remove Triner from the Mackinaw. “After reviewing both investigations, I have concluded that Capt. Triner gave insufficient attention to navigation and ship-handling training during the ship's shakedown cruise, thus contributing to the collision in Grand Haven,” Papp said in a news release. Although no one disputes the fact that the new icebreaker hit the Grand Haven breakwall - Triner himself was not at the helm, the conn held by a junior officer in training - that alone would have cost most Coast Guard captains their command. Rarely does a commanding officer return to the same vessel after such an incident.

It is the addition of the Mulligan's investigation that was too much for the admiral. Capt. Quain Kahler, commander of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, conducted the investigation and said that he interviewed at least 28 witnesses and reported the findings, including an interview and subsequent letter from Coulter, to Papp. “With respect to the event in Cheboygan, Capt. Triner has exhibited personal behavior and conduct that is inconsistent with service norms and expectations for the commanding officer of a Coast Guard cutter,” Papp said. Coulter stated that Mulligan's is a family restaurant, not a saloon.

“Our staff and guests interact with a great deal of respect,” Coulter countered. “The atmosphere of that night could be best described as a festive, yet controlled celebration. The citizens of the city of Cheboygan and our establishment were honored by their presence on such an important day. The Coast Guard should be proud of the actions of these officers and crew, not alarmed.” A key point in the debate could be the line that is drawn between normal or acceptable public behavior and what is normal and accepted by the Coast Guard. Especially the behavior of a commanding officer.

“Was there drinking and cavorting amongst the crew that night?” Coulter asked. “Yes. Were there large amounts of alcohol consumed? No, not in relation to the size of the party. Did the Coast Guard entourage cause a disruption to other guests? Absolutely not. Were they rude, obnoxious, insulting, out of control, disrespectful or antagonizing? On the contrary.”

Coast Guard policy does not specifically forbid a commanding officer from consuming alcohol in public, or drinking with his or her officers and crew. However, due responsibility with regard to alcohol use is required as per the Coast Guard Personnel Manual, which states: “All officers and senior enlisted members will promote responsible attitudes toward the use of alcoholic beverages, both on and off Coast Guard units.”

It is this concern that led to a Ninth District memo to be written last spring by Papp, imploring all commanding officers of Coast Guard vessels to promote this theory among crews of their ships. The memo questions whether the Coast Guard's motto of “semper paratus” (always ready) is applicable when alcohol is involved. The memo, signed by every commanding officer in the Ninth District, is posted just outside the galley of the original icebreaker Mackinaw. Presumably, each vessel's commanding officer would display it for all to see. Like the other skippers in the Ninth District, Triner also signed the memo.

In a separate change of command in May, Papp relieved Lt. Cmdr. Michael McBrady as executive officer of the cutter Hollyhock, also citing leadership failures and a lax attitude toward alcohol abuse as the primary reasons for the move. Ironically, Papp brought Triner aboard the Hollyhock until a new commanding officer was named. Triner's new ship, the Mackinaw, was being completed at Marinette Marine in Wisconsin. Triner has had no comment since being assigned to the Sector Lake Michigan office in Milwaukee. Capt. Michael Hudson is now in command of the new Mackinaw, a position he assumed following Triner's temporary relief after the Grand Haven accident.  

From the Cheboygan Tribune



Driver Dies After Leaping from Blue Water Bridge

1/23 - Port Huron - Only 85 minutes after reports Saturday evening of an empty vehicle on the Blue Water Bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard found a 64-year-old Troy man floating in the St. Clair River. Coast Guard officers found the man's body shortly before 8:00 p.m. about 30 feet from the Canadian shore near Dow Chemical, 3 miles south of the bridge, said Port Huron fire Battalion Chief Mike Clark. Traffic to Canada was restricted for about half an hour while authorities searched the river.

Port Huron police believe the man drove his BMW from Michigan, stopped between 6:10 and 6:30 p.m. and deliberately jumped from the new, southern span into the 38-degree water about 150 feet below. "Everything is consistent with a suicide," said Port Huron police Sgt. Scott Pike. Police did not release the man's name Saturday because his family had not yet been notified of his death.

The Coast Guard and fire department launched search boats after police responded at 6:32 p.m. to a report of an unoccupied car located in the bridge's southern-most, eastbound lane. The boats, joined by a helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, scoured the water along the east and west sides of the river in search of the suspected jumper, Clark said. When they located the body, the Coast Guard pulled him from the water into the boat and took him to shore at the mouth of the Black River at the end of Merchant Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The short period of time between the event and the location of the body is not typical, Pike said. Sometimes it takes months, he said. "It is unusual to find the person this quickly, especially in the winter when the water is colder." Pike said no one saw the man jump.

Dan Muxlow of Brown City was fishing near the city's waste-water treatment plant. He was there all afternoon and into the evening, he said. "I didn't see anything," he said. As the boat crews searched, a handful of individuals stood along the river railing or pulled their cars to the side of the road to see what was happening. "I don't know what would possess a person to do that," said Jeremy Dunsmore of Port Huron as he stood outside his car.

Authorities last searched for a suspected jumper in April 2004. Prior to the 2004 event, 14 people are known to have died from jumping off the bridge. The first span opened in 1938.

From the Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports - January 23

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Saturday, Andrie tug Rebecca Lynn and its fuel barge A-410, arriving overnight, unloaded petroleum products at the inner harbor tank farm north of the UW Sea Grant site.  The tug backed the barge downriver and departed Saturday afternoon. 

Overnight Interlake/Lakes Shipping's Kaye E. Barker arrived with coal from KCBX South Chicago, delivering to the Greenfield Ave. coal yard operated by WE Energies.  Sunday at about 11:00 a.m. the vessel backed downriver and proceeded northbound on Lake Michigan, signalling an end to its recent string of coal runs to and from KCBX.

Sunday evening at about 5:00 p.m. the Kaye E. Barker returned to Milwaukee, proceeded to the south end of the inner harbor mooring basin, and docked at the wall between Nidera Grain and St. Mary's cement, at the southerly end of the inner harbor. This is not a dock space usually used by this boat. It appeared the Kaye E. Barker was in for winter lay-up.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 23

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Port Report - January 22

Goderich - Dale Baechler
After waiting all day out in the lake for winds to diminish, Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was able to make entry into port about 9:00 p.m. Saturday to lay up for the season in the northeast corner of the inner harbour. Canadian Progress was next in sometime after midnight and she continues to load at Sifto Salt Sunday morning.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 22

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - The Week of January 22 through January 28

January 22 - The c.) WOODLAND, a. FRENCH RIVER) was sold to International Capital Equipment of Canada and cleared off the Lakes from Montreal January 22, 1991, under the Bahamian flag with the modified name to d.) WOODLANDS .

The GOLDEN HIND was sold on January 22, 1973, to Trico Enterprises Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda (Quebec & Ontario Transportation Co. Ltd., Thorold, Ontario, mgr.)

January 22, 1913 - The SAINTE MARIE (Hull#127) was launched at Toledo, Ohio by Craig Shipbuilding Co.

January 23 - The CELTIC (wooden schooner-barge, 190 foot, 716 gross tons, built 1890, at W. Bay City, Michigan) broke away from the steamer H E RUNNELS during a fierce gale on Lake Huron on 29 November 1902, and was lost with all hands. No wreckage was found until 23 January 1903, when a yawl and the captain’s desk with the ship’s papers was found on Boom Point, southeast of Cockburn Island.

The GEORGE A STINSON struck a wall of the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on January 23, 1979. The damage was estimated at $200,000.

The rail car ferry GRAND HAVEN sailed on her first trip as a roll on/roll off carrier from Port Burwell on January 23, 1965, loaded with 125 tons of coiled steel bound for Cleveland and Walton Hills, Ohio.

January 23, 1980 - Protesting the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, workers refused to unload the Russian freighter KHUDOZHNKI PAKHOMOV docked at Dow Chemical in Ludington.

January 24 - The JOHNSTOWN (Hull#4504) was launched January 24, 1952, at Sparrows Point, Maryland by Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard.

SPRUCEGLEN was launched January 24, 1924, as a.) WILLIAM K FIELD (Hull#176) at Toledo, Ohio by the Toledo Ship Building Co.

The steel barge MADEIRA (Hull#38) was launched on January 24, 1900, at Chicago, Illinois by the Chicago Ship Building Co.

In 1988, while under tow of German tug EVEREST of 1960, the ENDERS M VOORHEES encountered force 9 winds, parted her towline and went aground and subsequently broke in two at Profitis Elais, Kythnos Island (Thermia) in the Cyclades between the Mirto and Aegean Seas. She was on her way to Turkey for scrapping at the time.

January 25 - On January 25, 1988, the tanker L’ORME NO 1 was involved in an accident at Ultramar Refinery near Quebec City when attempting to tie up during foggy weather. She struck the dock and the impact started a fire that extensively damaged the wharf and the forward section of the ship.

Scrapping on the E J BLOCK began at Port Colborne, Ontario on January 25, 1988.

The JOSHUA A HATFIELD (Hull#782) was launched January 25, 1923, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

The W C RICHARDSON was launched January 25, 1908, as the a.) WAINWRIGHT (Hull#175) at Wyandotte, Michigan by the Detroit Ship Building Co.

On 25 January 1890, ALEX NIMICK (wooden propeller, 298 foot, 1,968 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan. She was built by J. Davidson (Hull # 30).

January 26 - The keel for the CLIFFS VICTORY, a). NOTRE DAME VICTORY (Hull#1229) was laid on January 26, 1945, at Portland, Oregon by Oregon Shipbuilding Corp.

THOMAS F COLE (Hull #27) was launched January 26, 1907, by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, Michigan.

J F SCHOELLKOPF JR was launched January 26, 1907, as a.) HUGH KENNEDY (Hull#349) at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

The THALASSA DESGAGNES entered service for Le Groupe Desgagnes on January 26, 1994.

ST LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR was launched in 1967, as a.) DEMETERTON (Hull#619) at South Shields, United Kingdom by John Readhead & Sons, Ltd.

On 26 January 1898, the CITY OF DULUTH (wooden passenger/package freight vessel, 202 foot, 1,310 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan as a passenger vessel) was carrying passengers, corn, flour and general merchandise from Chicago to St. Joseph, Michigan during a late season run when she struck an uncharted bar in a storm inbound to St. Joseph. She was heavily damaged and driven ashore 350 feet west of the north pier where she broke up. The Lifesaving Service rescued all 24 passengers and 17 crew members using breeches' buoy.

January 27 - In 1912, the Great Lakes Engineering Works' Ecorse yard launched the steel bulk freighter WILLIAM P SNYDER JR (Hull#83), for the Shenango Furnace Co.

The LEON FALK JR closed the 1974, season at Superior by loading 17,542 tons of ore bound for Detroit.

January 27, 1985 - The CITY OF MIDLAND 41 had to return to port (Ludington) after heavy seas caused a 30-ton crane to fall off a truck on her car deck.

On 27 January 1978, ALLEGHENY, the training vessel of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (built in 1944, at Orange, Texas as a sea-going naval tug) capsized at her winter dock at Traverse City, Michigan from the weight of accumulated ice. She was recovered but required and expensive rebuild and was sold and renamed TUG MALCOLM in 1979.

On 27 January 1893, Charles Lonsby and Louis Wolf purchased the 161 foot wooden steam barge THOMAS D STIMSON for $28,000. The vessel was built in 1881, by W. J. Daley & Sons at Mt. Clemens, Michigan as a schooner and was originally named VIRGINIUS. She was converted to a steamship in 1887.

January 28 - SELKIRK SETTLER (Hull#256) was launched January 28, 1983, at Govan, Scotland by Govan Shipbuilding Ltd.

At 4:00 a.m. on 28 January 1879, the ferry SARNIA was discovered to be on fire while lying at Fitzgerald's yard in Port Huron. All of the cabins were destroyed although the fire department had the fire out within an hour. About $3,000 damage was done. She was in the shipyard to be remodeled and to have a stern wheel installed. Arson was suspected.

On 28 January 1889, the Port Huron Times announced that the Toledo & Saginaw Transportation Company went out of business and sold all of its vessel and its shipyard. The shipyard went to Curtis & Brainard along with the PAWNEE and MIAMI. The BUFFALO, TEMPEST, BRAINARD and ORTON went to Thomas Lester. The C F CURTIS, FASSET, REED and HOLLAND went to R. C. Holland. The DAYTON went to J. A. Ward and M. P. Lester. The TROY and EDWARDS were sold, but the new owners were not listed.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


City of Escanaba Wants L. E. Block Moved

1/21 - Escanaba - Escanaba City Council decided unanimously Thursday night that the city is tired of "the boat" and will pursue legal action to get it removed. "The boat" in question is the L. E. Block, a dilapidated freighter that's been parked for several years in Little Bay de Noc on the north side of town. The boat belongs to Basic Marine, 440 N. 10th St., Escanaba.

In 1997, Basic Marine entered into a contract with the city to purchase the former Northern Motor Rebuilders building on 1st Avenue North from the city for $1, said the city's attorney, Ralph "B. K." Peterson. In exchange, Basic Marine agreed to remove the freighter, Peterson said.

The contract states, "Purchaser (Basic Marine) is the owner of or has control over the ore carrier named 'L. E. Block,' which is docked alongside Purchaser's property on the waterfront of the City of Escanaba. Purchaser understands that the Seller (City of Escanaba) believes that said ore carrier should be removed and disposed of. Purchaser agrees to make every effort to remove said ore carrier from the waterfront property over the next several years from the date hereof."

Two other provisions in the contract were for Basic Marine to make repairs to the building and also remove remnants of a round house on the property, which were completed, Peterson said.

For years, non-removal of the L. E. Block has been a major issue for the city. Not only from city officials fielding complaints from residents saying it's an eyesore, officials have also discussed environmental concerns with the boat, such as peeling paint. Now the city plans to take Basic Marine to court to resolve the issue. "We are going to be pursuing litigation," Peterson said following Thursday's meeting. "We'll file a complaint in Circuit Court asking the contract with the owner of the boat be enforced (and) asking the court for the boat to be removed or the property (former Northern Motor Rebuilders) to be returned to the city".

Prior to Thursday's meeting, council members received a written opinion from the city attorney regarding the contract between the city and Basic Marine. Peterson said the letter is confidential because of legal action being pursued.

Mayor Judi Schwalbach requested the boat issue be added to the council's agenda Thursday. She also brought the matter up for discussion at teh January 5 meeting. "I think the citizens of Escanaba know there is a transfer of ownership of the building...that the boat should be removed",  Schwalbach said. In her opinion, she added, the city expects the contract to be fulfilled. The city administration should be directed to make sure the owner of Basic Marine, Dan Kobasic, does remove it, she said. "I don't think he's fulfilled his end of the contract," Schwalbach said. "I'm tired of hearing about it".

She said it's evident that the boat floats because it was turned around last year. "Move it. People are sick and tired of it", she said.

Reported by Lee Rowe from the Escanaba Daily Press


Company Raises Drawbridge Idea for Harsens Island

1/21 - Clay Twp.- Detroit International Bridge Co. has switched up its plans for a bridge connecting Harsens Island to the mainland. Instead of attempting to achieve the U.S. Coast Guard's height requirement of 73 feet, the company earlier this month submitted plans for a drawbridge.

In December, the Coast Guard again rejected Detroit International Bridge Co.'s plans for a fixed-span bridge because there wasn't enough room beneath it for shipping. The company owns the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor. The Coast Guard, which regulates all navigable waterways in the United States, mandated the bridge be 73 feet high or that it open to allow large vessels to pass through the North Channel. Dan Stamper, president of Detroit International Bridge Co., did not return repeated phone calls for comment this week.

"We look at it solely for impact on the environment and impact on navigation," said Bob Bloom, bridge program manager for the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District. Detroit International Bridge Co. bought land west of the ferry landing on Harsens Island and near Island Drive on the mainland several years ago. Charles Lang, 36, lives on Island Drive near the proposed building site.

"I don't think (the bridge) is a bad idea," he said. Lang said a bridge would handle traffic better than the ferry. "Half the time I miss the draw because the ferry is late," he said, referring to early-morning duck hunting trips to Harsens Island. Jim Knieper has also been made late to the early morning Department of Natural Resources hunting-site lotteries. Knieper, 37, who also lives on Island Drive, was more concerned with property values. He feared a fixed-span bridge would have required more land. The site for the proposed bridge is already close to Knieper's house and others. "If it's a drawbridge, it probably wouldn't worry us much," he said.

But a drawbridge has its drawbacks, said George Koury, whose home on Pointe Tremble Road is 80 feet from the Detroit International Bridge Co.'s property. "This traffic is now really going to be traveling into my front yard," he said. "The whole thing was to eliminate congestion near the ferry." Property values, safety, congestion on the road and congestion on the river and the noise are all on top of his list of concerns. "If I can't sell my house - I put a lot of money into mine to build it and I have to be compensated by somebody," Koury said. "When I'm gone they can run this bridge right through my living room for all I care."

Clay Township Clerk Michael Pellarito said officials were disappointed in the move toward a mechanical bridge. The township could have used the fixed-span bridge to carry utility mains to Harsens Island. The Coast Guard will review the new proposal, Bloom said. But he was unsure when that process would be complete.

From the Port Huron Times Herald


2006 Water Level Forecast Looks Dry for Great Lakes

1/21 - The 2006 water level forecast for the Great Lakes is in, and it's not good. Last year, Lake Michigan water levels were eight inches below normal. The forecast for 2006 looks even drier. We have seen dramatic ups and downs with the water levels throughout the years. The levels have been well below normal since the late 1990s.

Changing water levels affect everyone, from fishermen to property owners. The average levels of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in 2005 were well below the mean. But even more noteworthy is the forecast for 2006, which falls even further below the average.

So where is the water going?
Some of it becomes lake effect snow. The lake snow steals moisture from Lake Michigan and dumps it on your lawn. From there it melts, and while some of it finds its way back to the big lake, some of it evaporates. This process takes away from the lake, slowly but surely. The lake effect snow evaporation only has a small-scale effect on lake levels. Lake levels fluctuate in most part due to natural ebbs and flows in weather patterns or changes in ground water levels.

From WOOD TV8 Grand Rapids


Cement Maker's Court Fight with DEQ Delayed

1/21 - Alpena - Mercury emissions from the state's largest cement maker are pitting the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality against Lafarge Midwest Inc. of Alpena. The two sides were set to square off Friday in 26th Circuit Court in Alpena County, but the hearing was postponed until March.

Robert Budnick, environmental and public relations manager for Lafarge, said the company is objecting to a new DEQ permit that would limit the amount of mercury released into the air by the factory to 390 pounds per year. Budnick said Wednesday the company feels the number is arbitrary since there has never been a study to show how much mercury is emitted by the factory or any prior limits on its mercury emissions. ''We don't have a problem with a limit, we just want it based on what is the capability of the plant and want it based on solid data,'' Budnick said.

But Mark Stephens of the DEQ's Air Quality Division said the agency arrived at a 390-pound limit by testing samples of all materials used to make cement and then testing the final product to see how much mercury was retained after processing. Budnick said the company's own estimate is that it could generate up to 570 pounds of mercury a year under current plans to increase production by 20 percent, he said. The actual figure could be lower, Budnick said, and Lafarge is waiting for results of emissions testing on its smokestacks to get a better idea of mercury amounts. The DEQ monitored the recent stack tests and both sides have agreed to review the issue when the test results come back from a laboratory.

Budnick said mercury is a naturally occurring substance in materials, such as limestone, used to make cement. Mercury also is found in coal and coke burned by Lafarge for energy, he said. Lafarge's efforts to increase production require modifying its air-quality permits, which triggered the new mercury limits, he said. The company wants to produce more cement to keep the plant competitive and preserve 250 jobs, he said. Budnick said the plant wants to increase production from 2.7 million tons of cement per year to 3.3 million tons.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage the brain and central nervous system and is particularly dangerous to children. Coal-fired power plants are the nation's biggest source of mercury, which settles in waterways and accumulates in fish. Mercury pollution has prompted the Michigan Department of Community Health to issue warnings about eating some types of fish from inland lakes. ''The whole mercury issue is a big thing in the Great Lakes and we're pushing it,'' Stephens said.

From the Bay City Times


Port Reports - January 21

Milwaukee Paul Erspamer
Thursday night cement carrier Integrity with its tug G. L. Ostrander arrived at the LaFarge silo in Milwaukee's inner harbor, and continued unloading Friday.

Tug Barbara Andrie and its fuel barge A-390 unloaded at the Jacobus liquid cargo pier in Milwaukee's outer harbor Friday.

At about 2:30 Friday afternoon, Kaye E. Barker approached from the south, entered the Milwaukee breakwall, pivoted in the outer harbor, and backed upriver. Kaye E. Barker has been shuttling coal from the KCBX terminal in South Chicago to the WE Energies Greenfield Ave. coal yard in the inner harbor.

Kaye E. Barker is due to lay up in Milwaukee as early as this coming weekend barring any delays. She will unload coal in Milwaukee, then head back down to KCBX in South Chicago for one last load to be brought to Milwaukee, then clean up head over to load beans for a winter storage load. After she is loaded, she will shift back and tie up for the winter. Thus ending a long season for the Kaye.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
After a four day run to the Chicago area, Peter R. Cresswell returned in the early evening Friday and started to load at Sifto Salt.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 21

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Cheboygan Museum Group Raises Funds
Sets goal of $1 million by July 1 for first phase of plan to display the cutter

1/20 - Cheboygan - A committee seeking to turn the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw into a museum after it is de-commissioned is implementing plans for a major fund-raising campaign. The Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, Inc., a group with a 501(C)3 non-profit status, is attempting to raise $1 million by July 1 to fund various initial phases of a project to secure a site, get permits and excavate in preparation for moving the giant icebreaker into a permanent well for display. “We're in the process of sending out letters to some people who we think can help,” said Joanne Harrison, the group's treasurer.

Visits to solicit funds from the Chicago Yacht Club, the Detroit Yacht Club, the Lake Carriers Association, and various local service clubs have been planned as well as talks with area banks for financing the project. “We've developed two brochures, one for yearly membership and another called ‘Moor the Mackinaw' for corporate donors,” Harrison explained. “Locally, we have scheduled or already presented programs for the Business and Professional Women, Cheboygan Jaycees, the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and the Straits Area Builders Association. We hope to solicit these groups as well as individuals and their businesses.” She added that an effort will soon begin to solicit pledges. A campaign to canvass alumni who served on the ship has produced most of the revenue so far, approximately $50,000 in contributions and pledges.

The group voted unanimously in November to have United Design Associates, Inc., begin the process of securing permits from the Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a job that could take up to two years to complete. Board members also voted unanimously to retain the services of Kathryn McKee, an independent fund-raiser from Chicago, Ill., who operates Business Development for the Arts and was hired to seek eligible grants for the group to pursue. Harrison admitted that the group still does not have a written business proposal to take to potential financiers. “Our business plan is almost finished,” she noted. “We'll need that to approach the banking industry. The process of securing funds has begun.”

Donors who get in on the first wave of contributions will be named as “plankowners” of the project, the name given to crewmen who initially man a new ship. Their names will be listed on a plaque aboard the ship, Harrison said. The financial effort is designed to bolster the group's presence before a March meeting with the Cheboygan County Commissioners, who raised organizational concerns at a November meeting and balked at a plan to accept the ship in June after it is decommissioned. The matter was tabled until the scheduled March review of the plan.

Also waiting for action is Sam Fralick, who owns the property north of the Cheboygan County Marina known as “the Point” where the museum group hopes to display the giant icebreaker. A first right of refusal document written with former group Chairman Jim Stevens to secure the property expired Dec. 31, 2005. “I bought that land with my business partner George Schryer in 1966 from the Olds estate,” Fralick said Thursday. “We always thought it would make a nice spot for a restaurant or some condominiums. George's daughters Linda Konicki and Lisa Trost became the other partners in 1989 through his estate when he died in 1989. I partnered with him in business dealings for 23 years.”

The property was listed for sale at $1.1 million dollars in 2003, but Fralick said he has discussed a price “in the $795,000 range” with the museum committee. He recently sold property north of the Northwood Oil Company tanks. Fralick said he also owns property south of that location known as the Coal Dock, the Mackinaw's original home, running along the west side of the Cheboygan River from First Street to Durocher's tugboat slips. He has offered that location, currently unused, to berth the Mackinaw until the Point location can be readied for the vessel.

“We want the Mackinaw here,” Fralick said. “It's going to be a real tourist attraction. It's the ‘Queen of the Great Lakes.' But now we have nothing on paper. They need to put together a written proposal, that's what they'll need to take to the banks.” Fralick indicated that the document is one detail - short of an actual purchase offer - he'd like to see in place to guarantee the ship's final home. “We don't want them to wait on this,” he emphasized. “There are some wetlands there and they could specify any DEQ conditions they want as part of the deal.”

“That's part of our problem,” Harrison sighed. “We need to make sure that land is going to be usable before we do much else.” She said an appraisal of the property is planned in the near future. Fralick admitted he is frustrated by the slowness of the process, and said he feels the city of Cheboygan should help to encourage the deal by aiding organization of the project. “The city should be putting some action into this. This project isn't even on anybody's list of priorities,” he said, referring to City Manager Scott McNeil's recent review of 2005 city priorities.

From the Cheboygan Tribune


Port Report - January 20

Port Colborne - Herb
Algoway arrived off Port Colborne Thursday evening and appeared to hold off entering the harbour for several hours facing a stiff west wind. By 7:00 a.m. Friday her cargo of salt was deposited at wharf 18-3 and she was long gone.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 20

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Lay Up Pictures Wanted

We have added pictures of the lay up fleet in Sturgeon Bay to the News Photo Gallery. If you have pictures of other lay up vessels that you would like to share, send them to


Ship in the Sheboygan Harbor:
Sight for sore eyes or eyesore?

1/19 - Whether berthing the USS Edson in the Sheboygan WI harbor would create an eyesore or a tourism draw depends on whom you talk to. "From what I hear, people don't really want to be looking at it," said Dan Grandlic, apprentice member of the Sheboygan Yacht Club. "All I know is we have a beautiful view of the lake here, and it'd be good to see (the Edson) for a while, but I think it's one of those things that'll get old." Overhearing Grandlic, yacht club member Kevin Werner said Wednesday he couldn't disagree more. "That ship won't be blocking anybody's view," he said. "We have tanks in city parks, and we think they're great — why can't we have a military ship in the harbor and think it's great?"

WINSA said the Edson is in mint condition, would come at little or no cost to the city and could attract 80,000 visitors a year as a museum, memorial and education center. City leaders are divided on the Edson, though the Common Council gave the ship a tentative go-ahead Monday night by voting 12-4 to begin negotiating a contingent lease for the 418-foot Vietnam War-era destroyer. "It's a huge project and it requires huge attention, a lot of thought, and I think we haven't given it that," said Mayor Juan Perez.

The Glendale-based Wisconsin Naval Ship Association has proposed berthing the Edson at the base of South Pier, north of the Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center, but a competing veteran's group in Michigan has already submitted an application that Sheboygan could have only six months to match. Standing between the Edson and the Sheboygan harbor is expensive dredging of the potentially contaminated Sheboygan River bottom, $5 million to $7 million in fundraising, an exhaustive government application and competition that is years ahead.

A Bay City, Mich., veterans group, the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, submitted an application for the USS Edson in November, according to group president Michael Kegley. "From what we've been hearing (from the Navy), it sounds good," said Kegley, who has been working since 1997 to bring a ship to his area and has concentrated on the Edson since 2003. "Our timeline is to have the ship here in Bay City by this fall."

Kegley said the Bay City group has raised enough money to bring the ship there, has the necessary government permits in hand and has established educational agreements with 42 area school superintendents. The Navy will decide by the end of next week whether the application is complete, in which case the six-month window would begin, according to Navy spokesman Landon Hutchens. The application includes a business/financial plan, mooring plan, maintenance plan, towing plan, environmental plan and curatorial/museum plan. The final decision is made by the secretary of the Navy and approved by Congress.

Joseph Lombardi of Massachusetts-based Ocean Technical Services, who WINSA hired to coordinate the Navy application, said the application can "absolutely" be done in six months, but described it as a "very substantial thing." WISNA first landed in Sheboygan in late July with a proposal to berth the 716-foot Des Moines in the Sheboygan harbor. The group switched to the USS Edson in early September.

Lombardi said he will examine the Edson in Philadelphia, then visit Sheboygan to examine the potential berthing site within the next month. Dick Caswell, WINSA chief and former Navy captain, said the group will begin fundraising now that the council has approved entering lease negotiations.

But some say the council decision to approve lease negotiations was premature. "At this point what I'm concerned the most with is the council's action to, what is in my mind, rush it through, without having (WINSA) answer all the questions that have been asked thoroughly," said Perez, who attended a Monday public hearing on the Edson where he said about half the questions where not answered satisfactorily. Perez said he wants further assurance the project will not require city tax dollars and more information on how the Edson will affect future riverfront and lakefront development, nearby condominium projects and Blue Harbor.

Lombardi said the Edson will have a 15-foot draft and require 17 feet of water, which means substantial dredging. "That'll be one of the prime pieces of the puzzle that have to be sorted out," he said. The Sheboygan River is known to contain polychlorinated biphenyls — or PCBs — but whether the wedge-shaped area in need of dredging is contaminated will not be known until WINSA hires a group to take core samples.

"I'd be surprised if there's any contamination in there, because that's generally just sand that's come over the wall, whether from wind or waves," said Tom Holtan, city public works director. Victor Pappas, DNR Sheboygan Basin team supervisor, said if the soil is contaminated it could still be removed, but it could be quite costly. If the soil has dangerous levels of PCBs, dredgers would need to contain the sediment underwater, dredge below 17 feet to remove exposed PCBs and possibly dispose of the contaminated material out-of-state, Pappas said.

From the Sheboygan Press


Rochester Drops Ferry to Canada
But Cleveland plan steams forward

1/19 - Plans for a ferry service between Cleveland and Canada continue despite another Great Lakes city's decision to end its ferry run to Toronto.

Rochester, N.Y., lost more than $10 million since buying the venture out of bankruptcy last February. The city's mayor recently announced that he would not back a request to finance the service this year. "The unfortunate decision to get the city into the ferry business in the first place will cost taxpayers between 2 to 3 million dollars a year for many years to come," Mayor Robert Duffy said in a written statement. "But this shutdown will at least stop the hemorrhaging of tax dollars."

Rochester's decision won't affect Cleveland, said Rose Ann DeLeon of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, which is pushing the local effort. The goal is to launch the service to Port Stanley, Ontario, by next year. The uncertain future of the harbor at Port Stanley has contributed to delays. The municipality is trying to buy the property from the Canadian federal government. Ownership must be settled before Royal Wagenborg, the Dutch company negotiating to operate the service, signs a contract. Unlike Rochester, Cleveland's ferry would carry commercial traffic, as well as passengers. Royal Wagenborg representatives will be in town later this week and next, talking with potential customers.

A proposal for another Lake Erie ferry between Port Burwell, Ontario, and a port near the Painesville Township-Grand River border also awaits news from Canada. Grand River Mayor Chris Conley said that progress was being overshadowed by the upcoming Canadian national elections. Bainbridge Township entrepreneur Kent Kristensen is in Canada this week trying to garner support for his plan, Conley said in an e-mail.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Port Reports - January 19

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Cement barge St. Mary's Conquest and its tug Susan W. Hannah motored slowly up the narrow Kinnickinnic River to their terminal in Milwaukee on Wednesday just after 3:00 p.m. and prepared to unload powdered cement.

Overnight, Interlake/Lakes Shipping's Kaye E. Barker arrived, working the coal shuttle from KCBX in South Chicago. After offloading at WE Energies at Greenfield Avenue, Kaye E. Barker backed downriver, departing at first light Thursday.

Soo - Howie Wilcox
The tanker Algosar is at the Purvis Marine terminal Thursday morning offloading petroleum products. They expect to make at least another trip from Sarnia in the near future.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Burns Harbor loaded ore at Escanaba on Thursday while the Joseph L. Block waited for her turn. The Mesabi Miner was expected later Thursday night. The Escanaba dock has increased its shipping since the Soo Locks have closed, and have ships scheduled to come in for a while.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
The Wilfred Sykes arrived at Bay Shipbuilding for winter lay up around 4:00 p.m. Thursday.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
CSL Niagara backed into the harbour Thursday night and was tied up at the Sifto Salt dock at 8:00 p.m. If she has ever been in port before, it would have been under her former name, J. W. McGiffin, and it probably would have been in the '70's or early '80's.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 19

News Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Oglebay Norton Company Announces Intention To Sell Vessels

1/18 - Cleveland -Oglebay Norton Company (OTC Bulletin Board: OGBY) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Oglebay Norton Marine Services Company LLC., has executed 30-day exclusivity agreements with two undisclosed parties related to acquisition of its fleet of self-unloading Great Lakes freight vessels.

Exclusivity was granted in order to allow the bidders to conduct customary due diligence and permit the parties to negotiate and execute definitive purchase agreements and long-term contracts of affreightment for the carriage of Company stone.

Closing is anticipated prior to the start of the 2006 shipping season in March. The transactions are subject to approval by the Company's lenders, board of directors and certain regulators.

Oglebay Norton Company, a Cleveland, Ohio-based company with a 150-year tradition of service, provides essential minerals and aggregates to a broad range of markets, from building materials and environmental remediation to the energy and metallurgical industries. For more information, see


American Steamship may be Expanding Fleet

1/18 - Buffalo - Williamsville-based American Steamship Co. could be poised for major growth as another veteran Great Lakes shipping company prepares to exit the business. The 99-year-old shipping company is considered a prime suitor for Cleveland-based Oglebay Norton Company's fleet of lake freighters. That company announced last month that it wants to get out of the shipping business to concentrate on its mining ventures. American Steamship has operated under a "shipping alliance" with Oglebay Norton since 2002, an arrangement which has seen the two companies pool their vessels into a single fleet to attain economies of scale while retaining separate ownership.

Rhonda Johnson, spokeswoman for American Steamship's parent company, Chicago-based GATX Corp., confirmed the potential acquisition. "We've expressed an interest in buying them," Johnson said, citing how well American Steamship's 11 freighter fleet has worked with Oglebay Norton's vessels to dominate the shipment of coal, iron ore and limestone aggregates on the Great Lakes. Johnson declined to provide more details, but said the Cleveland company is looking to "close very quickly" on a sale.

Oglebay has not commented on possible buyers beyond a Dec. 28 statement in which it said it has received "numerous offers" for its fleet of self-unloading freighters, but had not yet entered into an agreement. Oglebay's mutually beneficial relationship with American Steamship would seem to make it a perfect fit for what the company is seeking after the sale. President and CEO Michael Lundin said he is seeking a buyer who will enter into a long-term agreement to carry Oglebay Norton's mined products. "We are committed to serving our customers by providing quality chemical limestone, lime and industrial sands," Lundin said in a statement.

In 2005, the combined American Steamship/Oglebay freighter fleet carried nearly 50 million tons of coal, minerals and ores across the Great Lakes. Founded in the mid-1800s, Oglebay is probably best known beyond shipping circles as the owner of the ill-fated freighter, the Edmund Fitzgerald. On Nov. 10, 1975, the ore carrier sank in Lake Superior off the Wisconsin shoreline, killing her crew of 29.

American Steamship was incorporated in Buffalo in 1907 and began shipping service with three bulk vessels. It was acquired by Oswego Shipping Co. in 1937, but continued to be headquartered in Buffalo and operate under the American Steamship name. GATX Corp. acquired the shipper in 1973 and has maintained ownership. American Steamship, headed by President and CEO Jerome K. Welsch currently employs some 30 staffers at its Williamsville offices, plus another 300 marine employees. Its fleet includes the M/V Buffalo, a 27-year-old, 634-foot-long freighter named for its hometown. Its three largest vessels can carry more than 80,000 tons.

From the Buffalo News


Lake Ontario Ferry Sale not likely for Months
No urgency, says the Rochester mayor; he foresees methodical dismantling

1/18 - Rochester - Interested buyers for the high-speed ferry so far are from New York City and Turkey, Mayor Robert Duffy said Tuesday, adding that the ship most likely won't be sold until summer. "There obviously is some interest," Duffy said, explaining that the Turkish inquiry was made by an intermediary that operated in the same role for Istanbul Fast Ferries last year. "We have not set up a conference call yet. I hope to do that this week."

Officials warn that what lies ahead is a methodical dismantling likely to frustrate residents who want things to happen more quickly. As Duffy said, there is no urgency to unload the ship, but "if it sits there for an inordinate amount of time, I think it's just a reminder." One week after Duffy announced the city was getting out of the ferry business, City Council approved borrowing up to $9.4 million from city insurance reserves Tuesday night to pay shutdown expenses. One year ago, the city was in the throes of a rescue mission to save the Rochester-to-Toronto service. The lingering question is the fallout for taxpayers. But the debt to be assumed by the city won't be known until all Rochester Ferry Co. dealings are resolved and the ship is sold.

"We did everything in our power to prevent this day from coming," former Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. said earlier Tuesday, breaking his silence on the ferry shutdown to defend his administration's handling of the project. Johnson, speaking during a news conference at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, 141 Adams St., refrained from second-guessing Duffy's decision. He made it clear, however, that the service would have continued under his leadership.

Johnson focused his comments on insinuations that his staff wasn't open about its 14-year contract guaranteeing the Toronto Port Authority $250,000 annually. He also clarified that a state and federal investigation into past ferry finances came at the city's request. "I am disappointed that some people are willing to so easily dismiss this venture as 'ill-conceived, ill-fated and poorly executed,'" Johnson said. "I am angry that anyone would remotely insinuate that there is some malfeasance or cover-up." Duffy later met with the media at City Hall and stood by his comment that the Toronto Port Authority contract was "discovered," noting, "Nobody ever alleged a scandal." Duffy did not give Johnson a heads-up about his decision, and the two since have spoken only once in passing.

Looking ahead, the reserve funds first will be used to repay at least $2.5 million owed manager Bay Ferries Great Lakes LLC. Duffy said that could happen as soon as next week. A separate matter involves breaking a contract with Bay Ferries, but the Canadian company must remain in place as it employs the skeleton crew that will maintain the ship until it is sold, said Thomas Richards, the city's corporation counsel.

Richards is part of a three-member ferry team that Duffy appointed to guide the process. Additionally, a senior staffer in the Department of Environmental Services is being assigned to work the project full time. Richards said he wants to get advice from people in the business and possibly hire a broker before going much further. "We're going to have to be patient," Richards said. "I know that's going to be frustrating for people because they want this thing to be done." The $9.4 million should cover all envisioned expenses through July or mid-August, Duffy said. If the ship is not sold by the end of March, the insurance must be renewed. In June, the warranties come due. Those two expenses alone total $800,000 and are included in the request.

"It's a lot of money," Duffy said of the $9.4 million. "It's an awful lot of money. It's a big chunk of the reserve funds." The money will be drawn from the city's $12.4 million insurance reserve, maintained because the city is self-insured against lawsuits and outside claims. Whatever is borrowed will be repaid once the ship is sold. Duffy has said the city should expect no less than $20 million for the ship it bought for $32 million last February. So far, he said, no offer has been made.

In terminating ferry service, Duffy rejected a plan for $11.5 million in external borrowing to keep the operation going. "The one advantage I had was I came into this without having a strong personal attachment to the project," Duffy said. Johnson has denied he was enchanted by the ferry project, instead painting it as a means to an end — restoring the Port of Rochester to its once-prominent place as a destination. "That was the vision we pursued, and the ferry was one of the tools to achieve it," Johnson said. "Was it possible to achieve? We will never know."

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:


Port Reports - January 18

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
The Port of Milwaukee reported that its tonnage figures for 2005 are the highest shipping results since 1970 due to growing shipments of machinery and commodities. The port reported preliminary tonnage last year of 3.7 million net tons of cargo, up 18 percent compared with 2004 figures. Salt and coal commodities were up 10.24 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
Old Hebard pilothouse gets (another) new job. The pilothouse from the long-departed steamer Charles F. Hebard is getting another new job – it’s fourth. The steel pilothouse will be incorporated into the remodeled entry to the Bridgeview Motor Inn, which sits at the foot of Blatnik Bridge in Superior, Wis. Motel officials told the Superior Daily Telegram that they aren’t sure yet whether the pilothouse will serve as a museum or gift shop.

The pilothouse began life aboard the Charles F. Hebard, which was built in 1906. After the steamer was removed from service in 1963, the pilothouse was removed and purchased by the Goldfine family of Duluth. The Goldfines set the pilothouse atop Goldfine’s by the Bridge, a discount store on Duluth’s Garfield Avenue.

After the store closed, the pilothouse was removed and placed on Barkers Island in Superior, where is served as a gift shop and ticket office for the Vista Fleet excursion boats. When redevelopment on the island forced the pilothouse to move, the Goldfine family brought it to the Bridgeview Motor Inn, which they also own.

Toledo -
Oglebay Norton, the 1000 footer made it in to Toledo. She is moored stern to stern near her sister, another 1000 footer, Columbia Star. Oglebay Norton lies with her bow downstream and Columbia Star with her bow upstream at Midwest Terminals of Toledo, International.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The G. L. Ostrander/ barge Integrity was seen at Lafarge on Wednesday afternoon. The Integrity continues to deliver cargo where needed, and is expected to head to Milwaukee next.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 18

News Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Seamen Withdraw $100 Million Offer for Oglebay Norton Fleet
Higher Bidder Expected.

1/17 - Cleveland - A group of merchant seamen who came up with a plan to buy Oglebay Norton Co.'s Great Lakes fleet withdrew its $100 million offer for the boats after learning that another suitor was dangling twice as much money. Robert Woodman, who led the buyout drive, said Friday that Oglebay's sailors sent a letter to company Chief Executive Michael Lundin three weeks ago saying they were bowing out of the competition for one of the last old-line companies in Cleveland's industrial history. Woodman said that he did not know who the high-stakes bidder was but that he understood an announcement would come by the end of January.

Oglebay has kept quiet about potential bidders since announcing in October that it had hired a New York investment banker to help sell the fleet. According to Lundin, the 151-year-old minerals and shipping company has capital locked up in the boats that it wants to use to reduce debt and make investments. Oglebay spokesman Patrick Gallagher said Friday that the company had no announcement yet on a buyer. In October, he said the company's marine division, with about 400 employees, will remain based in Cleveland following any sale, but the fleet could be headquartered elsewhere.

Woodman said his group was informed by the investment banking firm handling the transaction for Oglebay that an offer for the fleet was put on the table that was roughly twice the employees' offer of $100 million. "In light of that information, we decided to conduct an orderly retreat," he said in a call from his home in Maine. "On the bright side, obviously we're a hot item."

Oglebay sunk into bankruptcy in February 2004 after its shares became penny stocks, plunging from a high near $50 in the late 1990s. Critics blamed the company's problems on poor decisions by its then-executives to rapidly diversify into industrial minerals, leaving the company highly leveraged. When it emerged from bankruptcy a year later, it was owned largely by bond holders.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Port Reports - January 17

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The first vessel passage of 2006 goes to the tug Barbara Andrie and her tank barge. The pair called on the Bit-Mat dock in Bay City early Sunday morning to unload. They were outbound for the lake just after midnight on Monday.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
After a short haul down the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, the Canadian Progress returned early Tuesday morning to load at Sifto Salt.

St. Clair River - Gordy Garris
CSL Niagara was at the Lambton Power Plant unloading until 10:00 p.m. Sunday night.

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
The Duluth-Superior shipping season ended Tuesday when James R. Barker arrived early in the morning to lay up at the Midwest Energy Terminal. The vessel was slowly backing into the berth about 7:30 a.m. If recent history is a guide, she’ll probably be out a week or so before the Soo opens to make coal deliveries on Lake Superior.

Elsewhere, over the weekend American Mariner moved into the large drydock at Fraser Shipyards. Also in the yard is Charles M. Beeghly and Earl W. Oglebay. The four vessels from Great Lakes Fleet arrived over the weekend as expected and tied up at various berths around the port terminal and the Garfield dock.

South Chicago - Steve B.
Arthur M. Anderson was loading coal at the KCBX terminal during the mid morning hours Tuesday. Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder as well as the Herbert C. Jackson were loading at KCBX on Sunday.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
On Tuesday Kaye E. Barker from the Interlake Lakes Shipping Line arrived with coal from the KCBX dock in South Chicago, which it delivered to the WE Energies Greenfield Avenue coal yard in Milwaukee's inner harbor.

Nearby, the Andrie tug Rebecca Lynn and its liquid transfer barge A-410 were at the tank farm just north of the UW Sea Grant building, offloading petroleum products.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 17

News Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 17 thru January 21

January 17 - NORTHERN VENTURE closed the Welland Canal for the season as she passed down bound for Hamilton with coal in 1975.

In 1978, the CLIFFS VICTORY, JOSEPH H FRANTZ, WILLIAM G MATHER, ROBERT C NORTON, CRISPIN OGLEBAY and J BURTON AYERS formed a convoy in the Detroit River bound for Cleveland.

The PHILIP D BLOCK (Hull#789) was launched at Lorain, Ohio, by the American Ship Building in 1925.Tanker GREAT LAKES was launched in 1963, as the a.) SINCLAIR GREAT LAKES (Hull#1577) at Decatur, Alabama by Ingalls Iron Works Co.

JOHN E F MISENER was float launched in 1951, as a.) SCOTT MISENER (Hull#11) at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks, Ltd.

January 17, 1902 - The PERE MARQUETTE 2 ran aground at Ludington.

PERE MARQUETTE 19 grounded in limited visibility on January 17, 1916, two miles south of Big Point Sable, Michigan 600 feet off shore. The captain made three unsuccessful attempts to find the Ludington Harbor entrance and on the turn around for the fourth attempt she grounded.

On 17 January 1899, the GERMANIA (wooden propeller freighter, 136 foot, 237 gross tons, built in 1875, at Marine City, Michigan) caught fire and burned to the water's edge at Ecorse, Michigan. The previous day, Norman Reno of Ecorse did some painting inside the cabin and it was presumed that the stove used to heat the cabin may have caused the blaze. The vessel was in winter lay-up at the rear of the home of Mr. W. G. Smith, her owner.

January 18 - On 18 January 2004, the Great Lakes Fleet’s 1000 footer EDGAR B SPEER became stuck in the ice in the Rock Cut in the St. Mary’s River. Over the next two days, the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW tried to free her, but unsuccessfully. On 21 January, the tugs RELIANCE, MISSOURI, JOSEPH H THOMPSON JR and JOYCE L VAN ENKEVORT all coordinated their efforts under the direction of Wellington Maritime’s Captain John Wellington and got the SPEER free.

The CABOT was refloated on January 18, 1967. On December 16, 1966, while loading at Montreal, the CABOT rolled over on her side and sank. The CABOT's stern section, used in the interim as the stern section of the b.) CANADIAN EXPLORER, now sails as the stern section of c.) CANADIAN TRANSFER.

The MONDOC had her Canadian registry closed on January 18, 1979. The vessel had been renamed b) CORAH ANN and sold to Jamaican company. CORAH ANN was scrapped in 2003.

The National Steamship Co. was incorporated January 18, 1906.

L. P. Mason and Company of E. Saginaw, Michigan sold the steam barge PORTER CHAMBERLAIN (wooden steam barge, 134 foot, 257 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan) on 18 January 1888, to Comstock Brothers and L. & H. D. Churchill of Alpena, Michigan.

January 19 - On 19 January 1824, the Welland Canal Company was incorporated to build the first Welland Canal.

The DAVID M WHITNEY (steel propeller freighter, 412 foot, 4,626 gross tons) was launched on 19 January 1901, by the Detroit Ship Building Company (Hull #138) in Wyandotte, Michigan for the Gilchrist Transportation Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Renamed b.) EDWIN L BOOTH in 1914, c.) G N WILSON in 1921, d.) THOMAS BRITT in 1928, and e.) BUCKEYE in 1943. She lasted until 1969, when she was scrapped in Spain.

January 19, 1927 - The Grand Trunk carferry MADISON was christened with a bottle of Wisconsin milk. She entered service in March of 1927.CLARENCE B RANDALL, the a.) J J SULLIVAN of 1907, was towed to Windsor, Ontario on January 19, 1987, for scrapping.

January 21 - On this day on 1959, gale force winds and ice at Buffalo, New York caused the steamer MAC GILVRAY SHIRAS to break lose from its moorings and on the way down the Buffalo River collided with the MICHAEL K TEWKSBURY and severed her moorings. Both vessels crashed into the Michigan Avenue Bridge causing millions of dollars in damages.

On 21 January 1895, CHICORA (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 199 foot, 1,123 gross tons, built in 1892, at Detroit, Michigan) was bound from Milwaukee for St. Joseph on a mid-winter run when he foundered with little trace. All 25 on board were lost. The ship's dog was found wandering on the beach by St. Joseph, Michigan a few days later. A well organized search for the wreck continued until mid-June. Many small pieces of wreckage were washed ashore in the Spring.

On January 21, 1978, the Multifood Elevator #4 at Duluth, Minnesota caught fire and collapsed onto the deck of the steamer HARRY L ALLEN which was laid up beneath the elevator. Her pilothouse was destroyed by fire. Severe warping and cracking of her plating occurred when cold water was poured onto her red-hot deck.

Data from: Brian Wroblewski, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Cutter Waits for Ice
Old Mackinaw will be on final season; new ship to debut

1/16 - Cheboygan - Clear, cold nights have at last begun the process of cooling down waters in the Straits of Mackinac to the point where ice has begin forming along the shoreline. However, it will take more than shore ice to necessitate underway operations of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, ready and waiting for its final season of icebreaking to begin. “There are no current sailing orders,” Cmdr. Joe McGuiness confirmed Friday. “We don't think we're going to get any ice next week, but we'll see. There could be a two to three-month delay in all of this and maybe we'll have ice dragging on into late spring, who knows?”

McGuiness met with commanding officers of the cutters Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay last week to formulate a plan of action for when the ice finally does arrive, as it inevitably will. He receives daily updates on ice conditions throughout the Great Lakes and usually can see ice conditions developing in advance. “Until the ice shows up, we'll be concentrating on maintenance and drills for area familiarization, ship-handling, things like that,” he explained. “Transiting the St. Mary's River is one thing, but when you go through there and break ice that's a totally different experience. Up in that area is where we'll see it (ice) first, I'm sure.”

The Soo Locks closed during the weekend, despite mild conditions that could have temporarily allowed more vessels to transit through. The locks undergo an annual maintenance and inspection period so the closing date is set to permit enough time to get the work done before ships line up for the spring opening in March.

The original Mackinaw will be in port at least through this week, and the new Mackinaw is still awaiting its first trip out of the Cheboygan River since arriving here Dec. 17. Continued maintenance and training are slated for the new icebreaker throughout the winter, once conditions are favorable for the ship's first tests with lake ice.

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Boblo Boat Effort Runs Out of Steam
Riverfront group to abandon ship

The Boblo boat Columbia needs some help from its friends. In the past two years, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has twice paid to have the 216-foot-long, 60-foot-wide vessel covered with plastic at a combined cost of roughly $70,000. The conservancy also paid to keep the boat at the Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. wharf in Ecorse. And the group paid the boat's electric bills. After looking into the possibilities of running the Columbia as a moneymaking tour boat in the Detroit River, the conservancy's board last month voted to end its support for the boat.

By spring, the responsibility for maintaining the 104-year-old steam-powered ship will return to its owner, the Steamer Columbia Foundation headed by a Detroit steamboat historian, Bill Worden. Worden said he's glum about the boat's future. The foundation is already in debt to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which paid about $75,000 of Columbia's bills before the conservancy got involved about two years ago. The Steamer Columbia Foundation doesn't have money to keep paying bills, he said.

The conservancy's board concluded that operating the Columbia would compete with the group's main goal of establishing a walkway along the river from the Belle Isle bridge to the Ambassador Bridge, said conservancy chief operating officer Leonard Marszalek. After 18 months of study at a cost of $400,000, the decision came down from the conservancy board of directors Dec. 15, said Marszalek: "I think there is a future for it, but unfortunately, it's not going to be with the conservancy." "The economics were very marginal in today's climate in Detroit and the state of Michigan, and trying to get more contributions for the Columbia might take away from our initial vision of the river walk," he said.

The Columbia and a second Boblo boat, the St. Claire, carried passengers every summer from the early 1900s until the service ended in 1991. The St. Claire is under restoration at Belanger Park's dock in River Rouge. The Columbia "is in very, very bad condition as far as her superstructure goes," Worden said. "Her hull and machinery are sound." The boats were popular, and people still recall their trips with pleasure, Worden said. In its heyday, the Columbia could carry as many as 2,566 passengers between Detroit and the amusement park on Boblo Island in the Detroit River.

The cost of restoring the Columbia to its original condition was estimated at $12 million, Marszalek said. "There's never been any question in my mind that the public appeal was there, but somehow that has never translated into money," Worden said.

From the Detroit Free Press



Port Reports - January 16

Port Colborne - Herb
CSL Assiniboine arrived to lay up in Port Colborne at the R & P Coal Dock Monday morning. She is riding high in the water and crews were letting down anchors at 8:30 a.m.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
After a one day delay coming into the harbour due to high winds, Canadian Progress was loading Sunday morning at Sifto Salt.

Peter R. Cresswell is loading salt on a very cold Monday morning under clear skies.

Halifax - John Villeneuve
The CSL Nanticoke is in dry dock at the Halifax shipyard.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Sunday night, Interlake/Lakes Shipping's Kaye E. Barker was at the WE Energies coal dock in Milwaukee's inner harbor, offloading coal. According to reports, the vessel will lay up for winter in this port.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 16

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 16

The COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS (Hull#791) was launched in 1926, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

In 1987, the DETROIT EDISON was at Brownsville, Texas for scrapping, she was raised after being scuttled by vandals.

On her way to the cutters torch, the dead ship ASHLAND was anchored off Bermuda in 1988, when she dragged her anchors and was swept onto rocks. She suffered massive bottom damage but the tow continued.

On 16 January 1909, TECUMSEH (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 200 foot, 839 gross tons, built in 1873, at Chatham, Ontario) burned to a total loss at her winter berth at Goderich, Ontario.

In 1978, the CANADIAN CENTURY and NORTHERN VENTURE departed Toronto for Hamilton with coal after laying up at that port due to the bridge tenders strike which closed the Burlington Lift Bridge to navigation.

On 16 January 1875, the Port Huron Times printed the following list of vessels that were total losses in 1874: Tug IDA H LEE by collision in Milwaukee, Tug TAWAS by explosion off Sand Beach, Steamer W H BARNUM by collision in the Pelee Passage, Steamer TOLEDO by partially burning at Manistee, Tug WAVE by burning on Saginaw Bay, Tug DOUGLAS by burning on the Detroit River, Steamer BROOKLYN by explosion on the Detroit River, Steamer LOTTA BERNARD by foundering on Lake Superior.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Goderich Salt Mine Evacuated
Emergency response teams rush to extinguish truck fire

1/14 - Goderich - A fire at the Sifto salt mine on Friday, January 6, prompted the evacuation of the mine and saw one man treated for minor injuries. The blaze started Friday evening after a haulage truck overturned in the mine and caught fire. The driver of the vehicle sustained cuts and bruises in the accident and was quickly assisted out of the mine by co-workers. The ensuing fire triggered the mine’s emergency response procedures and prompted all miners to immediately and safely evacuate.

According to a statement from Sifto, emergency services and regulatory agencies were contacted and Sifto’s four emergency response teams were able to extinguish the fire. Conditions underground were then closely monitored as smoke was flushed from the mine. Following extensive air-quality testing, the mine was declared safe to enter as of Saturday morning.

“We are relieved and thankful that the driver was not seriously injured,” said Sifto mine manager Rowland Howe. “Our highest priority is our employees’ health and safety.” The driver of the overturned vehicle was taken to hospital for observation and released. No other injuries were reported in the incident.

“We have established safety procedures,” said Howe. “We provide every employee with extensive safety training and we conduct regular safety drills.” Howe added that the incident on Friday was handled exactly according to the mine’s established emergency procedures. “I commend the miners on duty, the response teams and the other support personnel on their skillful, professional response,” Howe said.

The exact cause of the accident is still under investigation as of Saturday morning.

From the Goderich Signal-Star


Retired Captain with Upper Lakes Shipping Dies

Captain Hicks Pray McBeth, age 92, of Sarnia, beloved husband of the late Vina Jessie (Brand) McBeth (1988). Dear father of Betty Vanderburg of Sarnia, Brian McBeth and his wife Sheila of Point Edward, Bob McBeth of Sarnia, Kathy Davey and her husband Pete of Petrolia and Mary Ramsden and her husband Bob of Mississauga. Loving grandfather of Laurie, Leslie and Linda McBeth, Andrew, Jillian and Christopher Davey, Valerie and Danny Vanderburg and Rob and Christine Ramsden. Brother of Ilene Whalen of Sarnia. Predeceased by five sisters and three brothers.

A retired Captain with Upper Lakes Shipping, Capt. McBeth was a lifetime member of the International Shipmasters Association Lodge #2. Funeral services will be held from the Chapel of the D. J. Robb Funeral Home on January 16 at 11 a.m. Interment in Lakeview Cemetery. Visitation at the funeral home on Sunday afternoon from 2 - 4 p.m. Sympathy may be expressed through memorial donations to the Bluewater Health Foundation or Charity of Choice. Messages of condolence may be sent to the family through


Port Reports - January 15

Halifax - Mac MacKay
Atlantic Superior has put out hurricane moorings (lots of extra ropes, instead of the usual wires) and connected to shore power at pier 34 in Halifax. Tonight Atlantic Erie is due to move alongside and begin taking on Superior's cargo.

Atlantic Erie was to be in port for 12 days for a short lay up / repair session, but has been pressed back into service due to Atlantic Superior's serious engine troubles.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The last of the winter lay up fleet arrived Thursday night when the James Norris came in and tied up at Pier 35 north (the Atlas crane dock). Stephen B. Roman came in Tuesday and tied up for the season. Work continues out in Humber Bay on the new breakwall project. The mild weather yesterday brought out a lone sail boater and a brave kayaker.

Sarnia - Fran Frisk
Saginaw arrived Friday night and laid up at the Cargill Dock.

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
Early Saturday afternoon the Peter R. Cresswell had finished discharging salt at the Municipal Pier and had shifted to the inner harbor and the coal facility of WE Energies at the foot of Greenfield Avenue - where it simply sat.

Cleveland -
Sam Laud laid up at the old G & W dock in Cleveland on Friday. Wolverine is due to lay up on Monday, depending on the Calumet which is currently running salt up river, but should be laid up at the salt mine. McKee Sons is dur to lay up next Friday at the Ontario Stone Dock #2.

South end of Lake Michigan - Tom Milton
From the Indiana Harbor to Burns Harbor area, what appeared to be a footer, with a large aft cabin and no forward cabin, was seen heading northwest across the south end of the lake. The ship was clearly visible from downtown Chicago around Navy Pier. It is unusual to see a ship on this side of the lake since they stopped using the Chicago River. The vessel may have been headed to Milwaukee or Sturgeon Bay for lay up.

The John G Munson was seen backing into the south dock at KCBX.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 15

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 15

In 1978, the up bound McKEE SONS, LEON FALK JR, WILLIAM P SNYDER JR, A H FERBERT and CHAMPLAIN became stuck in heavy ice outside Cleveland Harbor. Eventually they were freed with the help of the U.S.C.G. icebreaker NORTHWIND and the U.S.C.G. MARIPOSA.

FORT YORK (Hull#160) was launched January 15, 1958, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

In 1917, the ANN ARBOR NO 6 left Ecorse for Frankfort on her maiden voyage.

On 15 January 1873, A. Muir began building a wooden 3-mast schooner ("full sized canaler") at his shipyard in Port Huron. Fourteen men were employed to work on her, including master builder James Perry. The schooner was to be the exact counterpart of the GROTON, the first vessel built at that yard. The vessel's dimensions were 138 foot keel, 145 foot overall, 26 foot 2 inches beam and 11 foot 6 inch depth.

On 15 January 1886, the tug KITTIE HAIGHT was sold to Mr. Fisken of Toronto for $3,900.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Feelers Already out on Rochester Ferry
Big questions are how much city can get, how long it'll take

1/14 - Rochester NY - While the field of potential buyers for Rochester's high-speed ferry may be limited, selling the ship should not be difficult, officials said Thursday. News of the ferry's availability already has spread worldwide through the network of ship brokers and prospective buyers, and the city already has begun receiving inquiries. The question becomes how much the city can get and how long it can afford to wait for the best offer. "You're not going to have to go all over the country, and you're not going to be able to sell it on eBay," Rochester's corporation counsel, Thomas Richards, said of the pros and cons of the market. "The significant thing that influences the value of this boat is to develop interest in it from more than one buyer. That will take a little time. You have to be patient."

Mayor Robert Duffy announced Tuesday that the city was getting out of the ferry business, which lost $10 million in 10 months last year. The decision halted a two-year run crippled by shortened seasons and fraught with problems. "There's not a large number of fast ferries sold each year, but there is a ready market," said Thomas Roberts of Compass Maritime Services, a Fort Lee, N.J., ship broker. Roberts said the sale could be accomplished relatively quickly — within a month or two, which includes time for prospective buyers to inspect the vessel.

City leaders are beginning work on a plan to estimate how much of Rochester Ferry Co.'s estimated $42 million debt will remain for the city. Richards estimates the city will get no less than $20 million for the ship. The city paid $32 million at a federal auction 11 months ago. "If we could find the right people, there's real value here," Richards said, stressing that this is not a fire sale. Former Mayor William A. Johnson Jr., the lead supporter of the ferry, continued to decline comment Thursday.

The city first must repay $2.5 million owed to manager Bay Ferries Great Lakes LLC, which otherwise could place a maritime lien on the ship and block the sale. Richards said he was unclear whether the Toronto Port Authority could obtain a lien, given its contract guaranteeing $250,000 annual rent for 14 years. He said the plan is to negotiate with the Canadians.

As for selling the ship, the city could give exclusive rights to a single broker, or engage several brokers who would compete for the fee. Ship brokers typically earn a fee of 1 to 2 percent of the sale price, city officials said. "I can't imagine it's going to be difficult to sell her," said David Buzanoski of the ship brokerage Jacq. Pierot Jr. & Sons.

Compass and Pierot are especially familiar with the ferry: Both companies were hired a year ago to appraise the vessel as it moved through a federal foreclosure auction after the initial owner shut down. Pierot valued it at $30 million and Compass placed the value between $25 million and $30 million, according to court documents. How much the ferry will fetch now is the key question. Among the things that are different now versus then is a $1.3 million engine upgrade, and reinstated warranties that cost Rochester Ferry about $300,000 annually, Richards said. The foreclosure canceled warranties, leaving the engine fix as an out-of-pocket expense for the upstart operation last year. Roberts didn't want to provide any estimate of the ship's sale price, though he did say Richards' $20 million base figure wasn't unreasonable if prospective buyers are satisfied the ship is in good shape.

John W. Waggoner, president of an Indiana company that operated the ferry for its original owner, said it is too large and too costly to operate in any market on the Great Lakes. "That vessel needs to compete with an airline on a route like Miami or Fort Lauderdale to the Grand Bahamas, or in Greece, for example," said Waggoner, whose Hornblower Marine Services also advised the Duffy administration on the viability of continuing operations. Waggoner, whose company now operates a smaller high-speed ferry on Lake Michigan, said the Spirit of Ontario "is a great piece of hardware. ... I don't think they'll have any problem selling it."

From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


Boatnerd News Heading for Winter Slowdown

Beginning with the closing of the Soo Locks Sunday, and the subsequent slow down in shipping news, the Boatnerd News Channel will change to a weekly format until the Soo reopens in the spring.

However, we will continue to publish important events that may happen, as they happen. Thanks to all the contributors who send us the items you see posted.

The News Photo Gallery will be updated as new photos are received. Keep sending them in. Lots of opportunities for lay up shots at various ports.


Boatnerd Calendar of Events

The Boatnerd Calendar of Events has been started for 2006. If your organization would like to be listed, please use the handy form available on the Calendar of Events page. Click on the icon in the upper right corner of the Calendar page, or send the information to


Port Reports - January 14

Port Huron - Frank Frisk
Charles M. Beeghly called Sarnia Traffic around noon Friday at Stag Island and advised they were going straight thru to Duluth MN for lay up.

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
American Mariner arrived sometime Thursday night and entered Fraser Shipyards in Superior for winter layup. Earl W. Oglebay was pulled out of the shipyard’s large drydock on Thursday afternoon and tied up in the yard. It entered drydock Dec. 13 for its five-year inspection.

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
Late Friday morning the Algoma Central's Peter R. Cresswell was moored at the Municipal Pier discharging salt.

Columbia Star arrived for lay-up at the up river end of Midwest Terminals of Toledo. She lies alongside the dock with bow upstream. Already in for lay-up are; Middletown, Courtney Burton, and H. Lee White.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 14

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.

Calendar of Events updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 14

On 14 January 1945, the W. Butler Shipyard built C1-M-AV1 ship LEBANON (Hull#40) was the last vessel through the Soo Locks. Ice was a serious problem. The newly commissioned ice breaker U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW escorted the LEBANON to Lake Huron. The Locks had never before been open this late in January. They were kept open to allow newly built cargo vessels to sail from Superior, Wisconsin to the Atlantic Ocean where they were needed for the war effort.

Scrapping began on the CHICAGO TRIBUNE January 14, 1989, by International Marine Salvage in Port Colborne, Ontario.

January 14, 1920 - The Grand Trunk carferry GRAND HAVEN was fast in the ice three miles out of Grand Haven.

In 1977, the CANADIAN MARINER laid up at the Consol Fuel dock in Windsor after her attempt to reach Port Colborne was thwarted by heavy ice off Long Point.

On Jan 14, 1978, the JAMES R BARKER departed the Soo Line ore dock in Ashland, Wisconsin, where she had been laid-up since August 7, 1977, due to the iron ore miners strike.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II, Father Dowling Collection and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Boblo Boat Ste. Claire Future Unclear

1/13 - Divorcing owners don't agree on much -- except need for repairs When it comes to the old Boblo boat Ste. Claire, there’s not much its owners agree on. But John Belko, 39, of Cleveland, and Diane Evon, 41, of Westlake, Ohio, don’t dispute that they are divorcing and that, as the old adage goes, a boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into. Belko said the costly task of restoring the Ste. Claire might have contributed to the couple’s impending split. They agree on these facts, too:

They paid $20,000 for the 197-foot-long, 65-foot-wide, 96-year-old Ste. Claire on Sept. 11, 2001, and within three months, had sunk $100,000 -- maybe more -- into fixing its steel hull. Since they bought the Ste. Claire, they’ve spent roughly $500,000 on repairs and renovations. But the accord ends there. Even their motivations for buying the boat -- beloved by metro Detroiters because it carried so many of them to and from the Boblo Island amusement park in the Detroit River -- are in question.

According to Evon, it was nostalgia. “What motivated me personally is that I was born in Dearborn and rode on those boats as a child with my family,” she said.
Belko said he’s not buying his wife’s story. “Diane was only on the boat once, when she was 2 or 3, with her grandparents,” he said.
Regardless, the Ste. Claire spent time last summer docked in Windsor and later at Belanger Park in River Rouge, where it was decked out as a haunted maritime house with fake cobwebs and skeletons and actors playing monsters. It’s still docked at Belanger Park, its bow headed south toward Ecorse, where the other Boblo boat, Columbia, is tied up at the Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co.

The owner of the 216-foot-long, 60-foot-wide, 104-year-old Columbia, newly shrink-wrapped, is staying mum about what’s in store for the vessel; its upkeep is financed by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Bill Worden told the Free Press on Wednesday that he can’t talk about the Columbia’s future because its fate is in the conservancy’s hands.

Evon said the Ste. Claire took in about $100,000 from haunted house and tour admission fees last summer, and she’s hoping to do better next summer by booking tours, parties and weddings as the boat sits at Belanger. The money will be used to continue to fix the boat. Belko, who conceded that he’s no longer involved with day-to-day operations of the Ste. Claire, estimates it would cost as much as $4.5 million to fix the Ste. Claire to the point that it could once again propel itself on the Detroit River. His wife agrees, sort of.

“It will be several million to get her going down the river,” Evon said. For now, the Ste. Claire has to move from place to place with help of a tugboat. Although its steam engine is in good shape, its boilers aren’t certified as safe, Belko and Evon agree. Evon is optimistic about the Ste. Claire’s future. The business plan is sound, she said. Belko is pessimistic. He said he was the brains behind the business plan, and he’s been cut out. Belko said he’s still an owner of the Ste. Claire, though Evon claims to be “100% in control.” “She owns 100% of the shares,” he said. But, “We’re still married... so we both own the boat.”

The appearance of the Ste. Claire is a major coup for the city, according to Tony Laginess, a River Rouge city councilman. “River Rouge has a rich maritime history,” said Laginess. “Remember that the Edmund Fitzgerald was built here.”

From the Detroit Free Press


Former Steamship Engineer Dies

1/13 - John A Leindecker, 82, died January 5, 2006 in Manitowoc, WI. John’s sailing career began during WWII when he sailed as wiper and fireman aboard 13 Liberty and 2 Victory ships from 1944 to 1948. He was proud of his service to his country. His Great Lakes career began in 1949 as fireman aboard the Enders M. Voorhees for the USS Pittsburgh Steamship Company, the fleet he would stay with for the rest of his sailing days. John sailed his first licensed position in 1951 as Third Assistant Engineer aboard the Percival Roberts Jr.

He retired in 1988 as First Assistant Engineer aboard the Arthur M. Anderson. He sailed 25 Great Lakes ships, with his favorite being the “Super” class Benjamin F. Fairless. John sailed steamships his entire career. He enjoyed traveling throughout the country during his retirement.

John is survived by his wife of 47 years, Louise Leindecker, three sons and one daughter-in-law; Eugene Leindecker of Manitowoc, John and Kristin Leindecker of Muskegon MI, Alan Leindecker of Manitowoc and four grandchildren, Nathan, Matthew, Michael and Emily Leindecker of Muskegon MI.


Port Reports - January 13

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
Despite the lateness of the season, traffic was heavy for a short time Thursday afternoon in St. Louis Bay. Reserve was upbound off the end of the CN ore docks, apparently heading to Hallett 5 to lay up. It was being assisted by one tug from Great Lakes Towing. A short distance away, standing in the turning basin off the end of the ore docks was John B. Aird, waiting for James R. Barker to finish loading at Midwest Energy Terminal.
At the same time, two tugs from Great Lakes Towing were breaking ice in Howard’s Pocket, site of Fraser Shipyards, to clear the way for American Mariner which was due to arrive Thursday to lay up.

Two weeks of temperatures that have often topped the freezing mark has left considerable open water in the Twin Ports, making this season’s lay up a relatively easy one. Here’s the anticipated winter berthing roster. All vessels are expected to be in port by Jan. 17.
Edwin H. Gott – Garfield C (near the port terminal)
Philip R. Clarke – Garfield D (near the port terminal)
Roger Blough – Port Terminal Berth 4
Edgar B. Speer – Port Terminal Berth 6
James R. Barker – Midwest Energy Terminal
Indiana Harbor – Lakehead Pipeline Dock (along U.S. 2 in Superior)
Walter J. McCarthy Jr – Hallett Dock 5
Reserve – Hallett Dock 5 (it originally was scheduled to tie up in the shipyard)
Earl W. Oglebay – Fraser Shipyards drydock
American Mariner – Fraser Shipyards
Charles M. Beeghly – Fraser Shipyards

South End Lake Michigan - Tom Milton
Burns Harbor, Buffington Harbor, Calumet Harbor and the Calumet River had only barge traffic Thursday afternoon in spite of the beautiful, unseasonable weather.

Port Colborne - Herb
The John D. Leitch arrived at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to lay up above Lock 8 in Port Colborne. The CSL Tadoussac arrived Wednesday and is laid up immediately north of the Lock in front of the Leitch. The two together high out of the water make interesting viewing with their "bustled" mid-body conversions of several years ago.

Marquette/Escanaba - Lee Rowe
Shipping from Marquette is done for the season, although the James R. Barker is still expected on Sunday with a load of coal.

Shipping continues in Escanaba with the Wilfred Sykes, Great Lakes Trader, Arthur M. Anderson, and Joseph L. Block expected in the next few days.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 13

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.

Calendar of Events updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 13

On 13 January 1918, the Goodrich Line’s ALABAMA and the Grand Trunk ferries MILWAUKEE and GRAND HAVEN all became stuck in the ice off Grand Haven, Michigan. The vessels remained imprisoned in the ice for the next two weeks. When the wind changed, they were freed but Grand Haven’s harbor was still inaccessible. The ALABAMA sailed for Muskegon and stalled in the 18” thick ice on Muskegon Lake.

After lightering 3,000 tons of coal, the BENSON FORD was refloated in 1974, and proceeded to the Toledo Overseas Terminal to be reloaded.

In 1979, the U.S.C.G. tug ARUNDEL is beset by windrowed ice at Minneapolis Shoal in Green Bay. Strong winds piled the ice on her stern and soon she had a 25 degree list. The crew feared that she may sink and abandoned the tug, walking across the ice with the help of a spotlight onboard the ACACIA which also became beset by the heavy ice. The MACKINAW, SUNDEW and a Coast Guard helicopter were dispatched to the scene, but northwest winds relieved the ice pressure and the crew was able to reboard the ARUNDEL.

On January 13, 1970, the lower engine room and holds of the SEWELL AVERY accidentally flooded sinking her to the bottom of Duluth Harbor causing minimal damage other than an immense cleanup effort.

January 13, 1909 - The PERE MARQUETTE 17 was freed after her grounding the previous December.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Permanent Relief Recommended for (new) Mackinaw Captain

1/12 - Cleveland – Rear Adm. Robert Papp, Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, has recommended to the Commandant of the Coast Guard that Capt. Donald Triner, commanding officer of the new Mackinaw, home ported in Cheboygan, Mich., be permanently relieved of command.

Papp temporarily relieved Triner of his command Dec. 15 after the cutter hit a break wall in Grand Haven, Mich. Papp made the decision to recommend permanent relief, citing loss of confidence in Triner’s ability to command. He reached this conclusion after reviewing investigations concerning the collision and subsequent reports of inappropriate use of alcohol by Triner and some members of his crew at an event in Cheboygan on Dec.17.

“After reviewing both investigations, I have concluded that Capt. Triner gave insufficient attention to navigation and ship-handling training during the ship’s shakedown cruise, thus contributing to the collision in Grand Haven,” said Papp. “With respect to the event in Cheboygan, Capt. Triner has exhibited personal behavior and conduct inconsistent with service norms and expectations for the commanding officer of a Coast Guard cutter.”

Triner is temporarily assigned to Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. Capt. Michael Hudson is now in command of the cutter, a position he assumed following Triner’s temporary relief.

USCG News Release


Weather Good for Fixing Beacon
Mild winter allows ongoing repairs on Lake St. Clair channel light

1/12 - Harsens Island - Work on a sea wall surrounding the rear South Channel Range Light is continuing through the mild winter. Thanks to Mother Nature, we had a little break in the weather," said Bob Ziman, a project manager for Mihm Enterprises Inc. Mihm, the company contracted for the project, subcontracted Shepard Marine to do the sea-wall work. Crews will be working through the cold to complete sea wall and interior work before spring. The work needs to be finished before ice forms in Lake St. Clair. Ice could damage the vulnerable sea wall.

Save Our South Channel Lights, a nonprofit group focused on restoring the two 147-year-old lighthouses near Harsens Island, was able to begin work on one of the lights last fall thanks to a $450,000 Clean Michigan Initiative grant in 2004. The group had to pay an additional $150,000 as its part of the matching grant.

Some repairs have turned out to be more costly than expected, said Chuck Brockman, the group's president. It originally was thought the rear lighthouse's lantern room could be repaired on site. Instead, all of the supports holding the 2,000-pound cast-iron roof were discovered cracked. The lantern room had to be removed in two pieces and repaired off site.

"We're spending a lot of money," Brockman said. "But we're going to be able to get the rear light pretty close to finished." So far, he said, the group has spent about $250,000 on repairs to the front and rear South Channel lights. Masonry repairs on the rear light may have to wait until the group raises more money, he said. He's hopeful the work can be done by volunteers, but he won't know until spring.

The lights, built in 1859 to guide ships into the St. Clair River's South Channel, were decommissioned in 1907. By the 1930s, they were falling into disrepair. When Brockman started the nonprofit group 16 years ago, the organization had no money. It will be broke, he said, after paying for repairs to the rear light. The front light has been leaning for years. Although stabilized, it would require a complicated, risky and highly expensive overhaul. It would have to be lifted off its foundation and suspended there while a new foundation was created. The entire front light project could cost $650,000 to $700,000. No target date has been set to start that repair.

The effort to fully restore the rear light is an attempt, Brockman said, to show the public a beacon's full grandeur. "When we get done with it, it will be stabilized and good to go for hopefully another 100 years."

From the Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports - January 12

Sarnia - Barry Hiscocks & Frank Frisk
Algowood arrived in Sarnia at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday morning with the assistance of the tug Menasha. She's at winter lay up at the east end of the Government Dock.

The tug Mary E. Hannah and her barge Hannah 3601 are currently tied up at the old CNR rail ferry slip in Sarnia for unspecified repairs. She is expected to shift and load at Imperial Oil.

Thunder Bay - Tom Stewart
Algosteel arrived at Pascol Engineering for winter lay up on Wednesday.

Lambton - Frank Frisk
CSL Laurentian departed Lambton Power plant Wednesday afternoon and advised Sarnia Traffic they were going straight thru to Thunder Bay ON for scheduled lay-up.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 12

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.

Calendar of Events updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 12

The CHI-CHEEMAUN (Hull#205) was launched January 12, 1974, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

The GRAND HAVEN was gutted by fire on January 12, 1970, during scrapping operations at the United Steel & Refining Co. Ltd. dock at Hamilton, Ontario.

MENIHEK LAKE (Hull#163) was launched January 12, 1959, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

On January 12, 1973, the VENUS had an engine room explosion shortly after unloading at Kipling, Michigan, near Gladstone on Little Bay De Noc, causing one loss of life.

On 12 January 1956, ANABEL II (probably a fish tug, 62 tons, built in 1928) was destroyed by fire at her winter lay-up at the Roen Steamship Co. dock at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

January 12, 1911 - The ANN ARBOR NO 5 hit the rocks close to the south breakwater when entering Manistique harbor, tearing off her starboard shaft and wheel.

The wooden steam barge O O CARPENTER (127.5 foot, 364 gross tons) was sold by the Jenks Shipbuilding Company on 12 January 1892, to Mr. H. E. Runnels and Capt. Sinclair for $26,000. The vessel had been launched at Jenks yard on 13 May 1891.

The new EDWIN H GOTT departed Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1979, for final fit out at Milwaukee.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Rochester Mayor Shuts Down Ferry,
Vows to 'stop the bleeding'

1/11 - Rochester taxpayers likely will be saddled with debt for many years to come and the city will sap reserves, in a stunning announcement by Mayor Robert Duffy Tuesday to shut down the problem-plagued 2-year-old ferry service between Rochester and Toronto. Duffy ended weeks of speculation in deciding not to back further borrowing to shore up ferry finances and provide for its first full season. Duffy said the financial risk was too great to go further in debt. "We as a city are bleeding," Duffy said, estimating the city will be faced with repaying $30 million once the ship is sold. "We are now going to stop the bleeding." Duffy said he will ask City Council to borrow $9.5 million from the city's $12.4 million insurance reserve.

While ferry officials had spoken optimistically about the opportunity of next season, Duffy painted a grim financial picture. One telling figure: In the ferry's best month last season, ship fuel expenses exceeded ridership revenue. "This is the right decision," Duffy said.

The city backed a $40 million loan, created Rochester Ferry Co. and bought the ship last February. Rochester Ferry then hired Bay Ferries Great Lakes LLC to manage the service. A delayed, midseason startup hurt ridership and revenue during what was the second partial season for the ship. The service lost $10 million in 10 months, exhausting its reserves. Last month, then-Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. sought to shore up ferry finances, proposing the ferry board be allowed to borrow $11.5 million more — which would have brought the total debt to $51.5 million. City Council backed the idea but delayed action until Duffy could weigh in.

Duffy said Rochester Ferry was out of money by late October, leaving Bay Ferries to cover what has grown to $2.5 million in expenses that must be repaid by the city. Duffy, who never rode the ferry, said he expected the community would be split over his verdict, but he was "at peace" with the decision. "I'd rather take the hit right now and maybe gain some credibility," he said, noting it was only the 10th day of his administration, "as opposed to next year with an inflated debt, maybe even more uncertainty."

Projections for 2006 showed that, even if the service doubled its ridership, increased ticket prices by 20 percent and had no major, unplanned expenses, it still would come up $2.7 million short. That is the amount owed on the initial borrowing, an amount that doubles in 2007. Duffy said he thought that was a "best-case scenario" but that losses likely would be higher, leaving too little money to continue in 2007.

Lisa Raitt, the president and CEO of the Toronto Port Authority, said in a statement that the decision to end service was "disappointing" and "unfortunate." She said with two shortened seasons under CATS and city direction, the ship was "never able to realize its full potential."

Thomas Richards, the city's corporation counsel, said shutting down the current operation should not mirror the mess of liens and claims seen in 2004. There are only two significant contracts, he said. One, a three-year deal with Bay Ferries that allows for breaking the deal, and another in which Rochester Ferry must pay $250,000 annually to the Toronto Port Authority for docking the ship, plus per-passenger and vehicle fees.

The city now will aggressively market the ship for sale — hoping to get nothing less than $20 million for the ship the city bought for $32 million last February. Duffy said Bay Ferries, which once expressed interest in owning the ferry, no longer appears interested. The same ship would sell new for $52 million today, officials said.

In making his decision, Duffy said he asked four questions: Can the city afford to operate the ferry? Is there a sound business and marketing plan? Is the ferry likely to succeed? Is this the best way to spend so much money? The answer to each of those questions, he said, was "No."

From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


Port Reports - January 11

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell arrived early Wednesday morning to take on a load at Sifto Salt. She is now loading, temperature at 4C degrees and rain on the way.

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
The winter lay up fleet began arriving in earnest in the Twin Ports on Tuesday when Walter J. McCarthy Jr. tied up at Hallett 5 and Indiana Harbor docked at the Lakehead Pipeline Dock. They join the Earl W. Oglebay, which has been in drydock at Fraser Shipyards since Dec. 13. Another eight ships are scheduled to arrive later this week and early next. Due next are Reserve and American Mariner, expected Jan. 12 for Fraser Shipyards, and Philip R. Clarke, expected Jan. 13 for Garfield D near the port terminal.

Midwest Energy Terminal is down to its last four loads of the season. Paul R. Tregurtha is due Jan. 11, John B. Aird and James R. Barker on Jan. 12 and the Barker again Jan. 14. Paul R. Tregurtha is scheduled to lay up at the terminal dock on Jan. 17 – the last vessel due in port this season.

The CN ore docks are loading their final vessels of the season over the next few days. At Duluth, Kaye E. Barker was due in Jan. 10 to be followed by CSL Assiniboine on Jan. 11 and Mesabi Miner and Hon. Paul Martin on Jan. 13. Due in Two Harbors are American Spirit and Buffalo, Jan. 11, and Herbert C. Jackson, Jan. 12.

Sarnia - Frank Frisk
Maumee arrived for lay up in the Sarnia north slip at 5:00 p.m. Monday.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Tuesday Coast Guard Station Milwaukee was host to Acacia, the last surviving vessel from dozens built during WW II as the Balsam class of 180-foot seagoing buoy tenders. Acacia (built in Duluth in 1944 and now home ported in Charlevoix) was at the Coast Guard dock, just west of the Lake Express pier.

Also Tuesday, tug G. L. Ostrander and barge Integrity unloaded cement at the LaFarge terminal and silo. Just south of LaFarge, the laid-up J. A. W. Iglehart was shifted northward along the Jones Island bulk cargo dock, reportedly to make room for Interlake vessels expected here for lay up.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 11

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 11

The steamer ROBERT S MC NAMARA, under tow reached her intended destination of Santander, Spain on January 11, 1974.

In 1970, the IRVING S OLDS was the last ship of the season at the Soo Locks as she followed the PHILIP R CLARKE down bound.

In 1973, the ROGER BLOUGH collided with the PHILIP R CLARKE after the CLARKE encountered an ice pressure ridge and came to a stop in the Straits of Mackinac.

On 11 January 1962, ARCTURUS, formerly JAMES B WOOD, was under tow of the Portuguese tug PRAIA GRANDE on the way to Norway to be scrapped when she foundered off the Azores at position 46.10N x 8.50W.

January 11, 1911 - The ANN ARBOR NO 5 arrived in Frankfort, Michigan on her maiden voyage.

On 11 January 1883, the Port Huron Times reported that a citizens' committee met to help Port Huron businesses. "A. N. Moffat decried the taxation of vessel property. High taxation of vessel property had driven much of it away from Port Huron. He cited the case of Capt. David Lester of Marine City who came to Port Huron a few years ago to live and would have brought here one of the largest fleets on the Great Lakes, but when he found what taxes would be, returned to Marine City."

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Routine Soo Locks Closing Expected Sunday

1/10 -Sault Ste. Marie, MI - Corps of Engineers officials expect a fairly routine final week of the Soo Locks' shipping season as preparations continue for an average load of winter work during the 2 1/2-month shutdown. Acting Area Engineer Steve Rose said the Corps is planning to close the Poe Lock promptly at midnight on Sunday. Rose said he knows of no request by shipping lines to extend the season past the mandatory Jan. 15 closing date as occurred last winter.

The season was extended for 10 days on special request last winter, before an ice jam in the West Neebish Channel ended the season a few days ahead of that extended deadline. Rose said he does not expect a repeat request this January, despite the relatively busy flow of ship traffic that prevailed over the last two weeks. Over the weekend, a total of 28 vessels passed through the Locks in both directions, indicating a relatively strong late season traffic flow at a time of year when most ships are laying up for the winter. Mild January weather has left most shipping channels virtually ice free as the calendar reaches toward mid-month.

He said a modest number of winter maintenance jobs awaits the Locks closing early next week. He said none of the Locks will be drained (or dewatered) this winter as scheduled work concentrates on hydraulic overhauls and replacements above the water level in the short off-season. He said a portion of the Soo Locks' staff has also been diverted to ongoing hurricane cleanup work in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. A number of Soo Locks' staff members have cycled through the debris cleanup over the last several months as the Corps of Engineers draws from units around the country to assist in the Gulf region.

Over the winter, four work crews will concentrate on an overhaul of the emergency cable boom machinery on both the MacArthur and Poe Locks. The work, which will concentrate on the booms' hydraulic mechanisms, is already in progress at the MacArthur Lock, where a temporary barge road and a winter shelter are already in place. Sixty-three years old this year, the MacArthur Lock cable booms have never before undergone a complete overhaul.

Across the way at the Poe lock, the plan is to replace the heavy-duty jaws that attach hydraulic arms to the lock gates at both ends of the structure. Sprague said inspectors found faulty welds in the jaws this summer, when one of them failed. The jaws and huge pins used to connect the steel hydraulic arms to them will be replaced on gates at both ends of the Poe Lock. Last summer's failure caused a summer shutdown on the Poe Lock for several hours while repairs were made. Sprague said other hydraulic units in the Poe Lock operating system will undergo routine maintenance over a winter with relatively few major repair jobs on the Corps' agenda.

Meanwhile, the process of finding a permanent replacement for retired Area Engineer Stan Jacek reaches something of a benchmark late this month, when applications for the job are closed. Corps officials expect the selection process for a replacement may take a few months before the Detroit District announces a choice.

From the Soo Evening News


Port Reports - January 10

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Lee A. Tregurtha arrived Bay Shipbuilding shortly before noon Monday for winter lay up and re-powering.

Toledo - Bob Vincent
The H. Lee White came to Toledo around noon Monday, turned around in the turning basin in front the CSX coal dock and backed up river. It's winter lay up position is up river from the Courtney Burton, near St. Marys Cement Toledo Terminal, along the wall at the old Interlake Iron Company.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 10

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 10

ONTADOC (Hull#207) was launched January 10, 1975, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd. For N.M. Paterson & Sons. Renamed b.) MELISSA DESGAGNES in 1990.

On January 10, 1977, the CHESTER A POLLING, b.) MOBIL ALBANY) broke in two and sank off the coast of Massachusetts.

January 10, 1998 - Glen Bowden, former co-owner of the Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company (MWT) died.

In 1974, the W C RICHARDSON was towed from her winter berth in Toledo to assist in lightering the grounded BENSON FORD.

On Jan 10, 1978, the tanker JUPITER became stuck in 3 to 5-foor ridged ice off Erie, Pennsylvania The U.S.C.G. tug OJIBWA is sent from Buffalo, New York to free her, but she too became beset in the ice 3 miles from the JUPITER’s position.

On 10 January 1898, Alexander Anderson of Marine City was awarded a contract to build a wooden steamer for A. F. Price of Freemont, Ohio, Isaac Lincoln of Dakota, and Capt. Peter Ekhert of Port Huron, Michigan. The vessel was to be named ISAAC LINCOLN and was to be 130 feet long and capable of carrying 400,000 feet of lumber. The contract price was $28,000. Her engine and boiler were to be built by Samuel F. Hodge of Detroit. The vessel was launched on 10 May 1898, and her cost had increased to $40,000. She lasted until 1931 when she was abandoned.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 9

Duluth - Chris Mazzella
Traffic in Duluth Saturday consisted of the American Mariner loading at Burlington Northern, John D. Leitch loading at Midwest Energy, the CSL Tadoussac loading at DM&IR and departing under the aerial bridge at a little after 1 p.m. The John D. Leitch followed, departing under the bridge about one-half hour later.

Rochester - Tom Brewer
The Stephen B. Roman arrived on Sunday morning about 10 a.m.

Thunder Bay - Tom Stewart
Halifax arrived at Pascol Engineering for lay up on Sunday. Cedarglen is expected at Keefer Terminal today.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
The Canadian Progress made an early Monday morning entry into port with mild temperatures and a slight northwest breeze. She is presently loading at Sifto Salt.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 9

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 09

BAIE COMEAU II was laid up on January 9, 1983, at Sorel, Quebec and was sold the following April to Progress Overseas Co. S.A., Panama renamed c.) AGIA TRIAS.

January 9, 1977 - The last survivor of the PERE MARQUETTE 18 disaster, Mike Bucholtz, died.

In 1974, a combination of wind and ice forced the BENSON FORD from the shipping channel in Western Lake Erie, running aground.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 8

Port Huron - Frank Frisk
Lee A Tregurtha passed Boatnerd World Headquarters upbound at 8:35 a.m. Sunday, her final days as a steamer nearing. Capt. James Nuzzo gave what he said was the last Steam Powered Master Salute to be heard from the ship.

Lake Ontario - Ron Walsh
Great Lakes visitor Bluebill was about 40 miles north of New York Saturday and just about ready to board a pilot. She is heading to New York and then will be heading for Montreal. She has an eta of January 15 at Section 42.

The James Norris was still out on Lake Ontario on Saturday.

Cleveland - Rex Cassidy
The Alpena is in at the LaFarge cement dock, her usual lay up spot.

The St. Marys Barge is at the St. Marys cement dock and has been there since about December 27. Her tug Petite Forte laid up in Port Colborne the following day.

Midwest Energy - Frank Frisk
James R Barker is the final ship scheduled to be loaded at Midwest Energy Resources on Sunday January 15, thus closing their season.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 8

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 08

On 08 January 2004, Mc Keil Marine’s CAPT RALPH TUCKER was the first vessel of 2004, to arrive at the port of Manistee, Michigan. Once docked at the General Chemical facilities, Captain Bill Sullivan and Chief Engineer Otto Cooper were each presented with hand carved Hackberry canes. This was a notable way for the vessel to start her last year of operation. Later that year she was sold for scrap.

JOHN HULST (Hull#286) was launched in 1938, at River Rouge, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

On 8 January 1877, the tug KATE FELCHER burned at East Saginaw, Michigan. Her loss was valued at $3,000, but she was insured for only $2,000. She was named after the wife of her owner, the well known Capt. James Felcher of E. Saginaw.

In 1939, several tugs helped release the grounded CHIEF WAWATAM, which had been aground since January 3.

In 1974, the BENSON FORD became beset by ice in Western Lake Erie.

January 8, 1976, the LEON FALK JR closed the season at Superior, Wisconsin after she departed the Burlington-Northern ore docks.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Brian Bernard, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series


Sturgeon Bay Bridge's Design Doesn't Line Up
Draft for span puts opening 70 feet from where it's needed

1/7 - Sturgeon Bay - Designing a new downtown bridge is still on the fast-track despite a recent discovery that its drawbridge opening was in the wrong place, state transportation officials said. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to build a second downtown bridge in Sturgeon Bay crossing from Maple to Oregon streets, just two blocks southeast of the existing Michigan Street Bridge. Designs by a Chicago consulting firm had placed the new drawbridge opening too far east, by about 70 feet. That error could have created problems for large ships trying to pass through both bridges.

"It's unfortunate (the change) came this late, but it wasn't too late," said Paul Vraney, project manager for the DOT. "Some of these things, quite frankly, we haven't had a chance to nail down with the expedited process. Never have we had something like this before in our region." The state Legislature approved funding for the new bridge in June and ordered construction to begin within a year. The fast timeframe is intended to avoid shutting down the merchant district during an eight-month renovation of the Michigan Street Bridge in 2007. Business owners are looking forward to the second crossing to avoid shutdowns in the future.

The alignment of the bridges is crucial because Sturgeon Bay's shipyards host the largest ships on the Great Lakes — up to 1,000 feet long. The Michigan Street Bridge has an opening just more than 140 feet wide, a tight squeeze for the largest ships. Shipping interests who reviewed the state's plans for a new bridge said it was not lined up properly with the old one. According to Vraney, the initial design for the Maple-to-Oregon bridge showed the drawbridge set over the existing shipping channel. But ship captains, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pointed out that the channel and the drawbridge would need to be 70 feet further west to line up with the old bridge.

"We had aligned the new bridge on the centerline of the channel where it was going to cross," Vraney said. "But the shipping industry said it should be lined up with the centerline (of the channel) where the old bridge is. Some additional dredging will be required, but it won't add significantly to the cost." Scot Striffler, a bridge management specialist with the Coast Guard in Cleveland, said he looked at the plans. "This is an unusual project all around because it involves redesigning the federal waterway and dredging changes. They will have to take a straight shot through those two bridges."

Christie Weber, president of Citizens for Our Bridge Inc., said her group is trying to ensure the new bridge doesn't cause any adverse impact to the Michigan Street Bridge, which is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. She sent out a series of e-mails about two months ago questioning the new bridge alignment. Vraney said it's just a coincidence that the change in the drawbridge location occurred immediately after Weber's e-mails.

Restaurant owner Scott Mertens said he just wants the new bridge built quickly. He opened Third Avenue Café in downtown Sturgeon Bay in July, and he hopes the new bridge will bring more business past his door. Mertens said he's confident changing the location of the opening won't affect the quality of the bridge. "They've got to make sure the ships can pass through two bridges close together. I can see where that part of the design would cause a problem."

From the Green Bay Press Gazette


Port Reports - January 7

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
You wouldn't know it was early January by listening to the radio Friday morning. There was enough cross lake traffic to make it seem like a mid-summer day. Vessels included Algowood, Canadian Enterprise, Canadian Progress, CSL Niagara, and the Kaye E. Barker. Most of the traffic seemed to be concentrated between mid-lake, the anchorage inside Long Point Bay, and Nanticoke, Ontario.

Port Huron - Wayne Brusate
The Mississagi was towed under the Bluewater Bridges and into the Sarnia Slip around 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Mississagi lost her rudder in the St. Marys River earlier in the week.

Toledo - Bob Vincent
Courtney Burton is moored at the old Interlake Docks just below Toledo Shipyard with her bow downstream. The old Interlake Docks are now the river front of the Pre-Cast Facility which is responsible for the fabrication of concrete road segments used to build the roadway of the I-280 high level bridge project. The shipyard uses the dock frontage for expedient non-drydock work. Courtney Burton is best viewed from Jamie Farr Park on Summit/Galena Sts.

Middletown has arrived at the old C & O ore dock wall for lay up on Friday.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Overnight Friday night Interlake's tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder unloaded coal for the WE Energies power plants at the Greenfield Avenue dock in Milwaukee's inner harbor.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 7

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 07

On January 7, 1970, the e.) ONG, a.) REDHEAD of 1930, had her Canadian registry closed. The tanker had been sold for use as a water tender at Antigua in the Lesser Antilles and had departed Toronto on December 1, 1969. In 1970, ONG was renamed f.) WINDOC.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Cleveland-Cliffs' Northshore Mining gets Go-Ahead for Furnace
No appeals were filed challenging air and water permits for a processing plant in Silver Bay

1/6 - A $29 million expansion proposed for Northshore Mining Co. has cleared a 30-day federal appeals period. A Wednesday deadline passed without any appeals to changes in Northshore's air and water permits, said Eurika Durr, a clerk with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That means Northshore is clear to begin the expansion, said Ann Foss, MPCA major facilities section manager.

Northshore Mining Co. and its owner, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., sought the permit changes to restart a pellet furnace that has been idle for 23 years. Northshore's processing plant in Silver Bay also would increase the production of iron ore concentrate and discharge more treated water into Lake Superior. However, even with the permits in hand, it's not clear when Northshore might move to restart the furnace or additional lines of concentrate. Company officials have put off restarting the furnace until market conditions warrant increased pellet production. Because a large amount of repair and construction would be required, reactivating the furnace and concentrating lines would take months.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board approved the permit changes in November. "This is great news," said Dana Byrne, a Cleveland-Cliffs spokesman. "These permits allow Cliffs to restart idle equipment at Northshore to meet future market demand while ensuring the public that there will be no adverse impact to the environment."

Restarting Furnace No. 5 would allow Northshore to increase iron-ore pellet production at the facility by 800,000 tons per year. By producing additional concentrate, Northshore Mining Co. could provide iron ore concentrate to Mesabi Nugget, a commercial iron nugget plant proposed at the site of the former LTV Steel Mining Co. near Aurora. "While the restart of Furnace 5 has been postponed, these permits allow us the opportunity to utilize Northshore's total capabilities, including supplying concentrate to the contemplated Mesabi Nugget project," Byrne said. The permits also give Northshore approval to expand the capacity of its Milepost 7 wastewater treatment plant, leading to increased discharges of treated water into the Beaver River and Lake Superior.

MPCA staff members say the expansion won't increase air pollution and would be unlikely to cause health problems for anyone drinking the water. The new Northshore permit sets a fiber standard of 6.8 million parts per liter, below the EPA's exposure limit of 7 million fibers per liter for drinking water.

In the 1970s, when Reserve Mining Co. operated the taconite plant and dumped taconite tailings into Lake Superior, fiber counts as high as 600 million fibers per liter were found in the water. Northshore Mining Co. disposes its taconite tailings in the Milepost 7 on-land site, not into Lake Superior. Equipment that could be restarted under the permit changes had been in operation years ago but were idled by downturns in the taconite industry.

At a November hearing, the MPCA board decided that a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement on the permit changes wasn't necessary. However, others asked the MPCA to delay issuing permits and require further study.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - January 6

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The steamer Alpena has ended its season and is tied up at the lay-up dock in Cleveland.

On Thursday afternoon a Lower Lakes Towing vessel was seen anchored off Alpena. It may have been waiting out the windy conditions.

Toledo - Bob Vincent
Thursday around 4:00 p.m., the Courtney Burton was delayed going up the Maumee river because of NS derailment. She tried up along number 1 wall waiting for bridge to be cleared.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Wednesday night Calumet discharged salt at the bulk cargo dock in Milwaukee's inner harbor. Because Calumet was so close to the LaFarge silo, tug G. L. Ostrander and barge Integrity waited at the wall (between Calumet and the laid-up JAW Iglehart) for Calumet to finish.

At about 9:30 p.m. the Lee A. Tregurtha backed into position (just across the turning basin from Calumet and Integrity) and unloaded coal at the WE Energies Greenfield Ave. dock.

Thursday morning the Andrie tug Rebecca Lynn and liquid barge A-410 were at the inner harbor tank farm, just north of Greenfield Ave. and the U. W. Sea Grant facility, unloading fuel. Tug G. L. Ostrander and barge Integrity were unloading cement at the LaFarge silo, across the turning basin on Jones Island.

Thunder Bay - Tom Stewart
Maritime Trader laid up at Slip #1 on Thursday.

Halifax - Mac Mackay
Nanticoke entered drydock at Halifax Shipyards Friday morning.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell entered the harbour shortly after 8 a.m. Friday morning. She had been unable to come in since yesterday afternoon due to high winds and seas. After turning in the inner harbour, she will be loading at the Sifto Salt dock.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 6

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 06

While under tow heading for scrap, the HARRY R JONES went aground at Androsan, Scotland on January 6, 1961, and it wasn't until February 15, that she arrived at her final port of Troon, Scotland.

January 6, 1999 - The Dow Chemical plant in Ludington, Michigan announced a plan to close their lime plant, eliminating the need for Great Lakes freighters to deliver limestone.

In 1973, the JOSEPH H THOMPSON ran aground at Escanaba, Michigan after departing that port.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Polluted Grassy Island gets Second Chance
Local, state and federal officials plan to clean up the contaminated land on the Detroit River.

1/5 - A major cleanup effort at Grassy Island is being planned by federal, state and local officials, who want to revitalize this toxic dumping ground for commercial or recreational use. The 72-acre marshy island is part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and has more than 3 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment deposited from various businesses.

Through a series of public meetings in the coming months, several groups will pursue a plan for the island, so at least part of its soil and natural habitats can be restored within five to 10 years. "Before we go out and spend a lot of money, we have to get all our ducks in order," said John Hartig, the wildlife refuge's manager. "We will now look into the severity and see if we can restore it." A study of the island, its health and potential uses will be funded by $1 million in federal aid. The state Department of Environmental Quality will be involved.

East of Wyandotte, north of Grosse Ile and west of Fighting Island, Grassy Island is the product of decades of pollution. From 1961-82, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used the island to dump sediment, mostly from the Rouge River, generated by companies that made steel, fabricated metals, heavy chemicals, pulp and paper, cement and meat-rendering products. Environmental experts say the island is contaminated with 27 toxins, including lead, zinc, chromium, oil, copper, mercury and PCBs -- chemicals that no longer are produced in the U.S.

A 2005 report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services said some hazardous substances were within safety levels, but "further investigation is warranted" for others, such as PCBs, which are suspected of causing cancer. Grassy Island became part of the wildlife refuge in 2001. And that's when efforts to revitalize it began. Hartig envisions the island as a hub for outdoor activities, such as duck hunting, fishing and kayaking. "It should be put into a productive use for the refuge system," Hartig said. "We're in an investigation phase to see what it would take to make it in good shape for public use."

Friends of the Detroit River member Milan Knezovich, 73, of Trenton says a clean and accessible island would be an asset to the region. He expects the group's success in the preservation of Gibraltar's Humbug Marsh to be duplicated with this project. "I'm not sure how long it would take to do this, but I think it's worth it," Knezovich said. "Once all the scientific studies are done, it will be nice to move forward with a solid plan."

Edward Brutto, 72, of Wyandotte also looks forward to changes on Grassy Island. He's been a member of the Wyandotte Boat Club for 25 years and is on the Detroit River every day in the summer. "I haven't seen much garbage and junk on the river's islands, but to hear that Grassy Island is polluted has me a little concerned," Brutto said. "I hope it's cleaned up because I'm against any kind of pollution.

What's Next
A public meeting will be held 7:00 p.m. March 9 at the Wyandotte Boat Club to discuss the state of Grassy Island and potential uses. The boat club is at 1 Pine St. Feedback from public meetings will be used in a study by federal , state and local officials to rid the island of toxins and return it to a natural state within five to 10 years. For information, call the Friends of the Detroit River at (313) 388-8892 or the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge at (734) 692-7608.

From the Detroit News


Port Reports - January 5

Toledo -
Today amidst fog at 2:30 p.m. Peter R. Cresswell came in to off-load at Kuhlman Corp. near the I-75 bridge with the Great Lakes Towing tugs giving an assist.

Rochester - Tom Brewer
The Stephen B. Roman was back Wednesday with another load of cement for Essroc.



Photo Gallery Updates - January 5

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 05

The keel was laid January 5, 1972, for the ALGOWAY (Hull#200) at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

The wooden tug A. J. WRIGHT caught fire on 5 January 1893, while laid up at Grand Haven, Michigan. She burned to the water's edge. Her loss was valued at $20,000. She was owned by C. D. Thompson. In 1970, the PETER REISS broke her tail shaft while backing in heavy ice at the mouth of the Detroit River.

On January 5, 1976, Halco’s tanker CHEMICAL TRANSPORT cleared Thunder Bay, Ontario closing that port for the season.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


St. Lawrence Seaway Closes 47th Navigation Season

1/4 - The St. Lawrence Seaway officially closed for the season on December 29, with the passage of the Transport Desgagnés tanker, Maria Desgagnés, through the St. Lambert Lock at 5:40 p.m. The Seaway’s 47th navigation season commenced on March 25th, with the system remaining open for 280 days, one day shy of the record 281 days set in 2004.

The Welland Canal section closed at 11:11 p.m. on December 30, with the transit of the Mississagi, a vessel operated by Lower Lakes Towing.

“Traffic results remained steady this year, retaining the tonnage added in 2004” noted Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC). “We enjoyed steady flows within our staple bulk cargo markets, including grain and iron ore. While we experienced a decline in imported steel movements of new cargoes, including aluminum and raw sugar, readily filled in this gap. We are particularly encouraged by the results of our incentive tolls program, which we put into place in March of 2005. Aimed at capturing / recapturing cargoes, we can attribute some 215,000 tonnes of new movements to this program, resulting in more than $600,000 of additional revenue.”

The wide variety of cargoes witnessed this year highlights the unique and vital role that the Seaway plays within the Canadian and U.S. economies. Not only does the marine mode provide the most energy efficient mode of transportation, project cargoes transiting via the Seaway figure prominently in the development of new, highly sustainable, industry. Throughout the season, shipments of wind turbines fabricated in Europe arrived via Seaway ports.

“This year may well be looked back upon as a watershed year, marking the beginning of a new era in Seaway shipping” expounded Corfe. “Our HwyH2O marketing campaign, an effort that we have undertaken jointly with the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and many of the ports within our system, is generating significant interest. We have sponsored workshops this year, aimed at capturing new cargo in a number of sectors including steel, auto parts, forestry, and containers.”

The HwyH2O container conference brought delegates together from a variety of industries, illustrating the role that the SLSMC plays as a catalyst to bring about change. Various speakers outlined the opportunity to harness the Seaway as a means to deal with the bottlenecks that have emerged over land during the past five years. As the marine mode gains exposure, the Seaway expects to realize the movement of containers from the East Coast to key inland hub ports.

Raising awareness that the Seaway offers a complementary alternative to our congested road and rail arteries, resulting in a stronger multimodal network, is a central goal of the HwyH2O campaign. Short sea shipping, a concept that has existed for some time in Europe, is gaining traction here. Already, short sea movements have begun in earnest on the lower St. Lawrence River, with aluminum ingots being moved by specially configured tug and barge from Sept-Îles to Trois Rivières and onward through the Seaway to Toledo, a harbinger of more good things to come.

The Seaway is now closed for the winter to accommodate annual maintenance on its 13 Canadian locks and connecting channels. This year’s winter works program encompasses some $23 million in expenditures, divided between the Montreal / Lake Ontario section ($7 million) and the Welland Canal section ($16 million).

Projects include upgrades to various locks and bridges, including the conversion of lock gates, valves and ship arrestors to hydraulic operation for Welland Canal Locks 4, 5 and 6. Evidence of the Seaway’s commitment to excellence, this investment will ensure that the system continues to offer carriers over 99% system availability, with the added benefit of lower annual maintenance costs.

The Seaway is expected to re-open in late March 2006.


Port Reports - January 4

Owen Sound - Ed Saliwonchyk
The Algomarine is now in Owen Sound moored on the east wall south of the Agawa Canyon.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
The Captain Henry Jackman is at pier 26 for winter lay up.

Sarnia - Frank Frisk & Barry Hiscocks
Canadian Transfer arrived in Sarnia for lay up late on New Year's Eve.
Cuyahoga arrived at the North Slip on Tuesday.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Tuesday morning, Edward L. Ryerson was moved from Bay Shipbuilding's main yard to the west city dock for winter tie-up making room for other winter fleet arrivals. Selvick tugs moved her. At 2:30 p.m. Adam E. Cornelius arrived for winter lay up northbound from Lake Michigan assisted by Selvick tugs.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
The Algoway came into port early Wednesday morning and is presently loading at Sifto Salt.

Halifax - Mac Mackay
Spruceglen over nighted in Halifax December 31 to January 1 for repairs.

Atlantic Superior arrived January 2 for repairs after an engine breakdown. The ship had lost power on one engine cylinder and was drifting for over twelve hours, but was able to reach Halifax on five cylinders.

Nanticoke arrived January 4 with a grain cargo.

Marquette - Lee Rowe
The Michipicoten is making her regular runs between Marquette and Algoma, returning about every 30 hours. Work has begun on the south side of the ore dock to prepare it for the air doors which will replace the pin knockers.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Work resumed Tuesday on the Humber Bay breakwall project. The tugs W. B. Indock and Ours Polaire departed Pier 35 shortly before noon bound for Humber Bay. The Stephen B. Roman is back in port unloading cement.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The G.L Ostrander/barge Integrity was in port at Lafarge on Tuesday morning. The Integrity is headed for Milwaukee next.

In the afternoon the Steamer Alpena arrived to take on cargo under the silos. The Alpena was outbound before 8:00 p.m. on its way to Cleveland.


Boatnerd Calendar of Events

The Boatnerd Calendar of Events has been started for 2006.

If your organization would like to be listed, please use the handy form available on the Calendar of Events page. Click on the icon in the upper right corner, or send the information to


Great Lakes Captains Association to Host 2006 Industry Days Conference

The Great Lakes Captains Association will host Industry Days 2006, January 25th through the 27th, 2006, at the Holiday Inn West Bay, and the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Traverse City, MI. The Great Lakes Association of Science Ships will be joining us this year for Industry Days.

The program begins at 8:00AM, Wednesday, January 25th with a full day of training at the Maritime Academy.  Sessions offered will include Basic Radar, Basic Diesel, Ship Stability (of high interest this year after the Ethan Allen incident), and Line Splicing, each of which will be about two hours long.  This year the training at the academy will be included in your registration fee for the entire program including 2 breakfasts and 2 luncheons.

Thursday kicks off the beginning of the regular part of the conference at the Holiday Inn, at 8:00AM. We should be able to wrap up the conference about 4:30 PM, Friday. Room rates are very reasonable at $55.00 per night. The phone number, for reservations only, at the Holiday Inn is (800) 888-8020. Be sure to identify yourselves as members of GLASS or GLCA and your attendance at Industry Days. The cost to attend all three days is $65.00.

For registration and Conference information, please contact Jack Cork at 906-632-3891, Fax: 906-632-0615, or


23rd Annual "Seaway Ships" Book to be Released

Long-time website supporter and marine photographer Rene Beauchamp will be releasing his book "Seaway Ships 2005" later this month.  The 46-page spiral-bound book includes a statistical summary of all the salties visiting the Great Lakes this past season, 19 color illustrations, Seaway statistics going back to 1959 and much more.  This is a limited edition book with only 175 copies to be printed.  Price: $19.25 (US) or $19.95 (CN) or $27.00 (CN for overseas); including postage.

For further information or to order contact Rene Beauchamp at


Photo Gallery Updates - January 4

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 4

On January 4, 1978, the IRVING S OLDS was involved in a collision with the steamer ARMCO while convoying in heavy ice in the Livingstone Channel of the lower Detroit River. The OLDS hit a flow of heavy ice, came to a complete stop and the ARMCO, unable to stop, hit the OLDS' stern.

In 1952, the car ferry SPARTAN (Hull#369) was launched at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Christy Corp.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 3

Toledo -
On a foggy, rainy day in Toledo, Alpena unloaded cement at Lafarge Corp. on Water Street on Monday.

Owen Sound - Ed. Saliwonchyk & Peter Bowers
The Algorail was been moved to the extreme north end of the west wall, following the departure of Cuyahoga. Cuyahoga departed at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Southern Lake Michigan - Tom Milton
South Chicago, IL. - The Manistee was loading at the Beemsterboer dock across from Carmeuse in the Calumet River at 106th treet this afternoon.

Lake Calumet Harbor, IL. - The St. Mary's Challenger is in winter lay up along the Calumet River between the LaFarge dock and the St Mary's dock. The windows and searchlights are covered.
Indiana Harbor, IN. - The Mesabi Miner was heard reporting in at call in points as she headed in to dock at Mittal steel in thick fog

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
The Captain Henry Jackman arrived in Hamilton at 1600 on Monday January 2nd arriving from Bath Ontario for winter lay up.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
The Algoway became the first vessel to enter the harbour in 2006, when she came in on Sunday night, New Years Day. Peter R. Cresswell was a late Monday night arrival. Both were loading at the Sifto Salt dock. There's not a chunk of ice to be had in the inner harbour, as a couple of days of easterly winds have completely cleared it out.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 3

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


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Today in Great Lakes History - January 03

In 1939, the CHIEF WAWATAM ran aground on the shoals of the north shore near St. Ignace, Michigan.

Jan 3, 1971, BEN W CALVIN ran aground at the mouth of the Detroit River after becoming caught in a moving ice field.

In 1972, the TADOUSSAC clears Thunder Bay, Ontario for Hamilton with 24,085 tons of iron ore, closing that port for the season.


Port Reports - January 2

Bath - Ron Walsh
The Captain Henry Jackman was still unloading at Bath at 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Owen Sound - Peter Bowers & Ed Saliwonchyk
Agawa Canyon arrived Owen Sound about 2:45pm Sunday and is tied up at the north end of the east wall. Saginaw left light Sunday morning after unloading a load of wheat and screenings.

Cuyahoga also arrived Sunday with a load of wheat for the Great Lakes Grain Elevator.

Algorail arrived Monday for winter lay-up. She tied up beside Agawa Canyon north end east wall, and she will move to north west wall after Cuyahoga clears. Cuyahoga is still unloading at the Great Lakes Grain Elevators.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Three charter boat came off the wall for New Year's Eve festivities, they being Capt. Mathew Flinders, Northern Spirit 1 and Jubilee Queen.

Port Weller - Alex Howard
Canadian Transport remains in the drydock at Port Weller. Canadian Olympic is laid up at wharf 2. Dewatering of the Welland Canal has begun between Locks 1 and 2.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 2

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 02

While on the North Atlantic under tow for scrapping, the ASHLAND parted her towline but was tracked by U.S. Coast Guard aircraft and was retrieved by her tug on January 2nd, 1988, some 300 miles off course.

The 3-mast wooden schooner M J CUMMINGS was launched at the shipyard of Goble & Mac Farlane in Oswego, New York. Her owners were Mrs. Goble & Mac Farlane, Daniel Lyons and E. Caulfield. Her dimensions were 142'-6'   x  25'-2"  x  11'-6", 325 tons and she cost $28,000.

January 2, 1925 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 (Hull#214) was launched at Manitowoc, Wisconsin by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Corp. She was sponsored by Jane Reynolds, daughter of R. H. Reynolds, marine superintendent of the railroad. Renamed b.) VIKING in 1983.


Mystery of Great Lakes’ Oldest Shipwreck:
Diver won't quit quest for truth

1/1 - The mystery of the sailing ship Griffon has tantalized adventurers and historians ever since the vessel, loaded with furs, disappeared in 1679 on its maiden voyage in northern Lake Michigan. It's the oldest and most elusive of Great Lakes shipwrecks. And Steven Libert, an amateur underwater explorer who says he has been hunting the Griffon most of his adult life, thinks he may have found the wreckage.

But for about a year, he has been locked in a legal battle with the State of Michigan over salvage rights to what's left of a ship he discovered while diving in 2001 near Poverty Island. The sides have forged a delicate truce, however, that apparently will enable Libert to continue work next spring toward unlocking the mystery of his find. If it really is the Griffon, it may be the grand prize of his shipwrecks.

But it's not a prize that will bring him riches. The Griffon wasn't carrying treasure, and its cargo of furs is long gone. Its value is historic and, for Libert, intrinsic rather than monetary. "It's the hunt for it, knowing that obviously you do something better than someone else. It's competition," said Libert, 51, a Virginia resident who also owns a home in Charlevoix.

A shocking discovery
The air in his scuba tank was running low, and Libert was about 100 feet below the surface of the dark Lake Michigan waters on his last dive of the 2001 season. Visibility was about 3 inches when he swam into a long pole sticking out of the lake bottom. "I didn't even know what it was," Libert said. "My face mask ran right into it. I don't know how to explain the feeling. Talk about shock."

He sent up a marker and his crew used global positioning devices to note the location. But when he went back to the surface to refill his tank, the air compressor failed and then a storm moved in. Libert had to wait until the following spring to dive again and take another look. "That was the hardest thing, waiting all that time, wondering: 'Is this the mast of a ship? Is it anything like that?' " Libert said. When he made it back, Libert wiped off the zebra mussels and took some infrared video of his find.

Could it be the legendary Griffon? Libert wasn't sure. But his discovery intrigued Scott Demel, a curator at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, which is interested in excavating and possibly displaying the wreck, if it proves to be the Griffon. "I think everyone would agree it's the Holy Grail of the Great Lakes," Demel said.

Libert took Demel to the site later in 2002 to take samples of the pole for carbon dating. But carbon dating isn't an exact science because fluctuations in temperature and climate can affect the test results, Demel said. "It can't pinpoint exactly how old the wood is, but it certainly gives us windows to work from," he said. The results of the carbon dating give Libert's discovery a 33% probability of dating to 1679. Those aren't great odds, but it's one part of the puzzle, Demel said.

Funding the research
The court battle has stopped Libert from getting back to the site. He says it's too early to tell whether his find is the Griffon, a French vessel that explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle sent out on its fatal trip with a crew of about five. But Libert points to other evidence, such as ax marks on the wood indicating it was hand hewn. He said it's possible he found the Griffon's bowsprit and the rest of the ship is loosely buried behind it.

Uncovering the truth has been tricky for Libert, whose real job -- the one that pays the bills -- is working as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Defense. He has formed the company Great Lakes Exploration Group LLC to salvage the ship. And he's trying to use a combination of his own money and whatever investors and grants he can attract to fund the venture.

The Field Museum is helping Libert write a grant to fund more research. "We're not wealthy, but believe it or not, I pull money from other sources -- everything in order to be able to do this," Libert said. But he can't explain the exact nature of his lust for shipwreck exploration. "If you could answer that, you'd be helping me out, and my wife also," he said.

So far his biggest cost has involved a lawsuit against the state. Michigan claims all shipwrecks within its waters. But Libert says he should be able to maintain salvage rights to his discovery, and he doesn't give up easily. The Griffon sailed under the French flag, and Libert persuaded the French government about a year ago to make a claim and give him the rights to salvage the ship. Melissia Christianson, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office, said there is still no agreement on salvage rights. "We are currently exploring with the other side whether or not we can find cooperations," she said.

Though the rights to the wreckage are likely to be decided in federal court, it appears as if the two sides may have put aside their differences long enough to decide whether the shipwreck is indeed the Griffon. "Right now it can't be distinguished from a simple timber," Christianson said. "There's no evidence to believe that it is the Griffon."

Skepticism and hope
Though Christianson is skeptical, Libert is hopeful. "People are finding it hard to believe because it's been lost for so long," he said. Libert has been looking for the Griffon for 28 years, researching in libraries and seeking out any other source that might lead to a clue to its whereabouts. Names were different in La Salle's day and the Griffon's name can be found different ways -- le Griffon, Griffin and Griffon.

Along the way, Libert said he has searched for other wrecks, including the Carl D. Bradley, which sank in Lake Michigan in 1958, and the Bonhomme Richard, John Paul Jones' ship, which sank in the North Sea while battling the British in 1779. "I think individuals have a role to play in exploration, not just big companies or government-supported ventures, but individuals," Libert said. "It's just a drive that I think a lot of individuals have, not just myself." That attitude prompted him to start diving along the Griffon's likely path.

Someone once told Libert that searching for the Griffon was like looking for a needle in a haystack. "I said no, it's more like looking for a needle in a hay field," Libert said. Said Demel: "It's the last frontier on the planet, to look at territory that's underwater."

From the Detroit Free Press


Port Reports - January 1

Detroit River, Amherstburg Channel - David Cozens
Saturday, due to down bound traffic in the Livingston Channel, the Amherstburg Channel has been busy with up bound traffic:11:15 a.m.-Herbert C Jackson, 11:45 am - Columbia Star, 12:25 pm - Agawa Canyon, and 12:45 pm - John J. Boland. No ice in the river. There are a few hardy fishermen out in small outboards.

Rochester - Tom Brewer
The Stephan B. Roman arrived at Rochester shortly before midnight on Saturday with a cargo of cement for Essroc.

Halifax - Mac Mackay
CSL's Spruceglen arrived in Halifax Saturday evening. It was almost a year ago when she bunkered in Halifax January 4, 2005 en route to Wilmington, NC.

Lake Ontario - Ron Walsh
Saturday, the Captain Henry Jackman was heading for Bath from Hamilton. The Stephen B. Roman was inbound for Picton Friday. She was at False Duck Islands at 3:25 p.m. Seaway Clayton told him they had suspended operations for the year and said they would see them again in the New Year.

The former Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Bittern has been turned over to the Kingston Fire Department to be refitted as a fire boat. The vessel will also be available to help the Coast Guard in the future. The vessel is out of the water and can be trailered to Metalcraft Marine who will do the work to refit her for next season.


Photo Gallery Updates - January 1

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


Happy New Year

May 2006 be an even better year for all of you!


Today in Great Lakes History - January 01

On January 1, 1973, the PAUL H CARNAHAN became the last vessel of the 1972, shipping season to load at the Burlington Northern (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe) ore docks in Superior, Wisconsin. Interestingly, the CARNAHAN also opened the Superior docks for the season in the spring of 1972.

On 1 January 1930, HELEN TAYLOR (wooden propeller steam barge, 56 foot, 43 gross tons, built in 1894, at Grand Haven, Michigan) foundered eight miles off Michigan City, Indiana. She was nicknamed "Pumpkin Seed" due to her odd shape.

January 1, 1900 - The Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad merged with the Chicago & West Michigan and the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western Railroads to form the Pere Marquette Railway Co.

On 1 January 1937, MAROLD II (steel propeller, 129 foot. 165 gross tons, built in 1911, at Camden, New Jersey as a yacht) was siphoning gasoline off the stranded tanker J OSWALD BOYD (244 foot, 1,806 gross tons , built in 1913, in Scotland) which was loaded with 900,000 gallons of gasoline and was stranded on Simmons Reef on the north side of Beaver Island. A tremendous explosion occurred which totally destroyed MAROLD II and all five of her crew. Only pieces of MAROLD II were found. Her captain's body washed ashore in Green Bay the next year. At time of loss, she was the local Beaver Island boat. The remains of the BOYD were removed to Sault Ste. Marie in June 1937.


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