Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

Copyright All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

* Report News


Ice Trials Canceled
New Mackinaw won't be actively seeking ice while out of port

2/28 - Cheboygan - The new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw is all dressed up with nowhere to go. The newest icebreaker in the fleet, looking for an opportunity to experience training in difficult ice conditions, has found none during the warmest overall winter temperatures in years in the Straits of Mackinac area. With a “Charley” maintenance period ending, the ship's crew has given up on hard-core icebreaking for this year, but departed Monday for more familiarization training.

“Ice trials are officially canceled, as they were. There's just not enough ice,” said Ensign Matthew Kempe, the ship's public affairs officer. “We even looked at a trip up the St. Lawrence Seaway but it's a two-week trip one-way. So they're planning on doing ice trials next year.”

The Mackinaw's operational plans include getting underway today for two weeks, going to Sault Ste. Marie and cruising the St. Mary's River get to know the area a little more. It will be the new Mac's fifth trip out from the Millard D. Olds Memorial Moorings since arriving in Cheboygan Dec. 17. Even if ice conditions change, Kempe doesn't think the crew will get any real icebreaking calls since the ship isn't officially commissioned until June 9.

“We're sort of on our own for training and certification purposes leading up to commissioning until then,” he explained. “We're still very new at this, remember, so we probably won't be asked to break ice. It will be a matter of opportunity, but I don't think we'll be officially tasked with Operation Taconite. We could take an emergency call if it made sense geographically and the (original) Mackinaw was too far away or something.”

The new icebreaker will also make a fuel stop at Rogers City at some point. Familiarization training, docking, departures and arrivals will be of immediate concern to perfect the art of handling all aspects of the new ship. “That sort of thing is so important,” he said. “The Mackinaw's crew will concentrate on basics for now. For instance, we've found that gale force winds affect this ship greatly because of our large sail area.”

The vessel's eventual secondary duties of buoy-tending have also been postponed until well after commissioning day. “We're not supposed to get into buoy work until fall,” Kempe added. “A buoy and deck-training team from Yorktown, Va., will be here in April to evaluate our abilities and teach us how to do it. We'll get a certification in handling buoys and then assist with seasonal change out this fall.”

According to Kempe, the recently concluded maintenance duties were as routine as could be for a new vessel loaded with high-tech equipment. “We got a lot of stuff done on the bridge, some software upgrades and things like that,” Kempe said. “We had some manufacturers representatives on board."

From the Cheboygan Tribune


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


Season is Coming. Are You Ready?

Only 25 Days until the Soo Locks open for the season.

Only 122 days until Engineer's Day 2006 and the Annual Boatnerd Gathering.

Do you have your Boatnerd logo stickers? Click here to order today.


Gatherings Scheduled

Five Boatnerd Gatherings have already been scheduled for the 2006 season, beginning June 3 in Port Huron.

Click here for details.

Have you made your reservations?


Today in Great Lakes History - February 28

The VENUS (steel propeller bulk freighter, 346 foot, 3,719 gross tons) was launched on 28 February 1901, by the American Ship Building Company (Hull #307) at Lorain, Ohio for the Gilchrist Transportation Company, converted to a crane-ship in 1927. She was renamed b.) STEEL PRODUCTS in 1958, and lasted until 1961, when she was scrapped at Point Abino, Ontario, the spot where she has run aground and partially sunk while being towed for scrap.

The light house tender MARIGOLD (iron steamer, 150 foot, 454 gross tons, built in Wyandotte, Michigan) completed her sea trials on 28 February 1891. The contract price for building her was $77,000. After being fitted out, she was placed into service as the supply ship to the lighthouses in the Eleventh District, taking the place of the WARRINGTON. The MARIGOLD was sold in 1947, converted to a converted to dredge and renamed MISS MUDHEN II.

The rail ferry INCAN SUPERIOR (Hull#211) was launched February 28, 1974, at North Vancouver, British Columbia by Burrard Drydock Co. Ltd. She operated between Thunder Bay, Ontario and Superior , Wisconsin until 1992, when she left the Lakes for British Columbia, she was renamed b.) PRINCESS SUPERIOR in 1993.

OUTARDE was launched February 28, 1906, as a.) ABRAHAM STEARN (Hull#513) at Superior, Wisconsin by Superior Ship Building Co.

In 1929, the Grand Trunk carferry MADISON, inbound into Grand Haven in fog and ice, collided with the U.S. Army dredge General G G MEADE, berthed on the south bank of the river for the winter. Damage was minor.

Data from: Max Hanley, Dave Swayze, Steve Haverty, 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.


Possible AK Steel Strike

2/27 - If an agreement is not met by the union workers of some 2,700 and AK Steel of Middletown, Ohio a strike may take place on midnight Tuesday. Local churches in the area are opened tonight for community members to pray for the issue at hand. "Everyone in this town has some connection to AK," City Manager Bill Becker says. "Either they have a family member who works there or know somebody who does. You can't isolate AK from Middletown.''

Due to staffing reductions many are working 80 hours a week causing safety and health risks. The steel industry as a whole has changed over recent years. Among the contract issues, investment analysts have said that AK Steel could be a candidate to be acquired. AK Steel is huge in this community of 52,000. AK workers still generate about 22 percent of the $18 million in revenue from the city's 1.5% income tax.

The steamer Middletown of the "up in the air" Oglebay Norton Company is named after this former Armco, another named vessel, now AK Steel town.

Reported by Luke Archer from AM 700 WLW


MARAD Announces "Maritime Matters" Campaign

2/27 - As a way to underscore the critical importance of the maritime industry to the national transportation network, this year the Maritime Administration (MarAd) and other maritime groups will introduce an awareness campaign designed to focus national attention on the maritime industry. Called, "Maritime Matters," the campaign will help to communicate the value of the maritime industry in relation to the economy, national security, jobs, environmental protection, agriculture, quality of life, recreation and more.

For example, according to MarAd, our nation's ports and coastal and inland waterways support the annual movement of more than 2.5 billion tons of domestic and international commerce. They also generate significant local and regional economic growth, support nearly 5 million jobs and annually provide facilities for millions of cruise and ferry passengers.

In 1933, Congress decreed May 22 as National Maritime Day, and each year since it has been a day for the United States to observe its proud maritime heritage, honor the men and women who serve and have served as merchant mariners, and recognize the many benefits that result from our American maritime industry. National Maritime Day also follows on the heels of National Transportation Week, which the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced will run the week of May 14-20.

To visit the Web site MarAd has developed to help ports and cities announce their National Maritime Day events, go to and click on the "National Maritime Day" toolbar. This site provides up-to-date information on National Maritime Day commemorative activities across the country, along with a history of why the observance day came into being and how the maritime industry has evolved to touch each and every American life.


Port Reports - February 27

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Unloading of sugar storage cargoes continues at Redpath Sugar refinery. Sunday afternoon the tugs Vigilant 1 and Progress brought Quebecois from Pier 51 into the Redpath slip.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Great Lakes Trader/Joyce VanEnkevort are laid up in Escanaba. Shipping is expected to resume there in another week or so. The tug Fischer hayden and barge Hannah Avery are still at the dock as well.


Updates - February 27

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 27

GOLDEN SABLE was launched February 27, 1930, as a.) ACADIALITE (Hull#170) at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees, United Kingdom by Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd..

Data from: Steve Haverty, 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.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 26

The completed hull of the BELLE RIVER (Hull#716) was floated off the ways February 26, 1977, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. Renamed b.) WALTER J MC CARTHY JR in 1990.

JOSEPH L BLOCK (Hull#715) was launched February 26, 1976, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp.

On 26 February 1874, the tug WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE JR was launched at Port Huron Dry Dock. Her dimensions were 151 feet overall, 25 foot 6 inches beam, and 13 foot depth. Her machinery was built by Phillerick & Christy of Detroit and was shipped by rail to Port Huron. She cost $45,000. Her master builder was Alex Stewart.

On 26 February 1876, the MARY BELL (iron propeller, 58 foot, 34 gross tons, built in 1870, at Buffalo, New York) burned near Vicksburg, Michigan.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, 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.


Little is Named New Skipper of New Mackinaw
New captain is very familiar with the Great Lakes

2/25 - Cheboygan - The new commanding officer of the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw has plenty of Great Lakes experience. It's the technology and unique systems of the fleet's newest icebreaker that he'll have to catch up with.

Cmdr. John Little, 48, will become the third captain of the new Mackinaw yet the first commanding officer to undergo an actual change of command ceremony, the Cheboygan Daily Tribune has learned. Little will receive his command in a full investiture later this spring, succeeding Capt. Michael Hudson - a temporary replacement since Dec. 14 - and Capt. Donald Triner, the Mac's first skipper who was relieved of duty after the ship struck a breakwall in Grand Haven on its way to its Cheboygan homeport.

“She's quite a ship, there's no question,” Little said while visiting Cheboygan in January before his assignment was posted. “The Mackinaw has a huge tradition to uphold and will serve the Great Lakes in new ways for many years to come, I'm sure.”

Little comes to Cheboygan from a dual job in Portsmouth, Va., where he served as the chief of the Atlantic Area and Fifth Coast Guard District's Aids to Navigation and Waterways Management Branch, a position he has held since 2003. He also serves as program manager for the Coast Guard's International Ice Patrol in Groton, Conn. Serving as operational commander for a fleet of seven Coast Guard buoy and construction tenders, his branch oversees the maintenance of nearly 7,000 floating and fixed aids to navigation from Sandy Hook, N.J., to the North Carolina and South Carolina border.

He returns to the Great Lakes where he served as the commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay, stationed in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. He was previously the commanding officer of the cutter Katmai Bay at the Sector Sault Ste. Marie office from 1994 to 1997, before taking the Mobile Bay. “Yes, I'm a Great Lakes guy, although I was a Mississippi River kid growing up,” said Little, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn. “I've always enjoyed this area of the country. ”During his six years as a Great Lakes commanding officer, his cutters accumulated nearly 4,000 icebreaking hours while operating in some of the most severe weather conditions on record in the Ninth District.

Little has already spent some time on board the new Mackinaw undergoing training and has been to sea on a few of the trips the ship has taken from the dock at the Millard D. Olds Memorial Moorings to practice procedural drills leading to certification for its commissioning date of June 9. An avowed basketball fan, Little said he is looking forward to becoming part of the community and even spent a recent evening watching the Cheboygan Chiefs play a high school game. “It was fun to watch and they were great,” he exclaimed, smiling. “I'll get used to the cold weather again, I'm sure.”

Little and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of two children, Anne and Jack.

From the Cheboygan Tribune


Rouge River Bridge to be Replaced in 2007,
River to remain open to traffic

2/25 - The time has come to replace the 74-year-old Fort Street drawbridge over the Rouge River. As the thoroughfare that connects Downriver communities like Lincoln Park, River Rouge and Wyandotte with southwest Detroit, Fort Street's linchpin is this drawbridge.

The bridge swings high to let freighters move upstream to Henry Ford's Rouge Plant and return to the Detroit River. Federal law requires that the river be kept open to navigation. The bridge is run by a complicated system of motors and counterweights, and an operator is on duty 24 hours a day to raise it for freighters or a family's sightseeing cruiser.

Plans for the new bridge are being drawn by engineers at Hardesty & Hanover, a New York-based engineering firm with a Lansing office. The design is to be completed by June 2007, said H & H engineer Jeff Routson. "It will have five lanes like the old bridge," Routson said.

Like the old bridge, the new one will have an operator on duty at all times to open for ships. In fall 2007, construction is expected to begin on the new bridge, which is to be built to the east of the old structure or downstream. The river must stay open to freighter and barge traffic during the bridge construction, which is expected to take about two years, said Paul Wisney, Michigan Department of Transportation project manager. Although boats will be able to navigate the Rouge during that process, traffic on Fort Street will be shut down, and vehicles will be rerouted to I-75 or other surface streets.

A year ago, MDOT held a hearing and received public comment on its plans to replace the old drawbridge. Last summer, the agency received approval from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to build a new bridge, Wisney said.

The price tag for the new bridge is estimated at $35 million. The cost to build the original bridge was $383,442 in 1922, which amounts to roughly $3.9 million in 2005 dollars. "Michigan doesn't have many drawbridges -- less than 10," Wisney said. "This is the first one I've worked on."

When the bridge was built, workers, known as muckers, did the digging by hand and struck a bubble of poisonous gas. The bridge was built anyway, but the pilings were set on clay rather than bedrock. That is one reason the old bridge has to be replaced, said MDOT historian Lloyd Baldwin. Ever since construction was finished, the span's two lifting sections, which are called leaves, have been slowly sliding toward each other.

The leaves lock when the bridge is in a normal, lowered position carrying traffic. But in hot weather, the metal expands and sometimes won't mesh. When that happens, it has to be hosed down so the metal will contract again and fit together, said Baldwin. But cold water doesn't always do the trick. MDOT also has had to shorten the leaves to make them fit, Baldwin said.

MDOT is calling for the construction of another double-leaf bascule bridge. The new bridge will be longer because the Coast Guard required that the river be widened to 135 feet. The new bridge also will be higher to eliminate flooding of its walls during periods of high water, which happened in the mid-1980s, Wisney said. MDOT plans to preserve the drawbridge's control tower as a historic interpretive site that may be part of a small park, Wisney said.

What is a bascule bridge? The Fort Street bridge over the Rouge River in Detroit is a classic piece of architecture that qualifies for entry in the federal historic register. It's a bascule bridge, which is a term used by engineers to describe spans that are raised or lowered by pivoting about a fixed point.

The bridge has two sections that lift, one from either side of the Rouge River. The sections are called leaves. Because there are two of them, it's called a double-leaf bascule bridge. There's a deep pit under each side of the bridge where two 150-ton blocks of concrete can be rotated by a system of gears driven by big electric motors.
The bridge leaves turn on a trunnion, or pivot point, like a car axle.

From the Detroit Free Press


Tickets Go On Sale for Door County Lighthouse Walk

2/25 - Tickets for the 13th Annual Door County (WI) Lighthouse Walk will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, March 1, 2006. The event, held the third full weekend in May, will take place May 20- 21 this year with highlights including the ability to tour the inside of the Sherwood Point Lighthouse as well as the ability to climb the tower at Cana Island.

"Over the past two years, nearly 2,000 lighthouse aficionados have climbed to the top of Cana Island, which is a rare opportunity for both locals and tourists alike" said Brian Kelsey, Executive Director of the Door County Maritime Museum. "We are thrilled that the United States Coast Guard has once again allowed us to open the tower to the public during Lighthouse Walk weekend, thus giving even more individuals the opportunity to climb to the top of Door County. I am certain we will have many repeats coming to Cana to climb her once more."

For more information visit the museum's website at


Algoma Steel Announces Wind Turbine Tower Plant

2/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - Algoma Steel Inc. on Friday announced it will build a plant to manufacture wind turbine towers to supply a rapidly growing North American market in alternative energy generation. In a statement, Algoma said it has entered an agreement with SIAG, a German company, to form a Canadian partnership for the manufacture of wind turbines in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Algoma said the plant for building the tower portion of the assembly will be located on the grounds of its steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie.

SIAG is a leading supplier of wind turbines in Europe with plants in France, Germany and the Czech Republic. Majority ownership of the SIAG-Algoma combine, to be called SIAG Great Lakes LP, will be held by SIAG.

The Sault Ste. Marie wind turbine tower plant will initially be configured for two production lines capable of turning out 180 of the thin, conical wind turbine towers per year. Larger wind turbines now in use extend more than 200 feet off the ground. The towers support a central electrical-generating head and the hub for the elongated turbine blades that capture wind power. SIAG will apparently supply rotors, power heads and blades to complete wind turbine assemblies matched to the locally produced towers.

A number of provincial and regional government officials hailed the new turbine tower plant for its impact on the Sault Ste. Marie economy and as evidence of diversification in local manufacturing that has long relied on raw steel production. In the statement, Algoma Steel President Denis Turcotte said the new plant represents a commitment to renewable energy that positions Algoma Steel as a, “world-class company.”

Algoma's announcement follows by a few months unveiling of another Canadian company's plan to build as many as 65 wind turbines just outside of Sault Ste. Marie, taking advantage of incentives offered by the Ontario government. Some 1,200 wind turbine units spread over many locations in Ontario are in various stages of planning for the next several years. Experts expect about 10 percent of Ontario's electrical energy needs will be furnished by wind turbines and other alternative energy technology when the several “wind farms” are in full operation.

The Sault, Ont. tower plant will initially employ about 20 people, gradually building up to a workforce of 140 when the plant is in full production. The tower portions of high-output wind turbines are currently built overseas and delivered to North American customers by heavy-lift ships over thousand of miles of open ocean and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Towers built in Sault Ste. Marie will enjoy a considerable advantage in delivery time and expense for turbine customers in North America.

From the Soo Evening News


Today in Great Lakes History - February 25

CREEK TRANSPORT was launched this day in 1910, as a.) SASKATOON (Hull#256) at Sunderland, England by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co.

Data from: 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.


SS Badger Receiving Winter Replacement Work

2/24 - Lake Michigan Carferry is making major upgrades to the operating systems of the S. S. Badger in order to maintain the reliability of the vernerable coal-fired steamer.

The coal conveyer system has been replaced. This machine carries coal from the bunker into the crusher. At the other end of the boilers, they have also replaced 1,259 generating tubes in the foreword port boiler.

According to Lynda Daugherty, Director of Media Relations, "This extensive work is in keeping with our goal of “zero downtime” during the season. We are pleased to say that we have only missed one day of sailing in the past four years and that was due to weather."

Pictures of the work are posted in the News Photo Gallery.


2004 Accident Report Released

2/24 - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its final investigation report (M04L0099) into the collision between the sailboat Mondisy and the container ship Canada Senator off Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, on August 11, 2004.

The investigation revealed that it is likely that the unstructured watchkeeping system aboard the Mondisy led to a sleep debt that caused a crew member to fall asleep while on duty at the helm. Investigators found that the warning signals sounded on the ship's whistle of the Canada Senator did not arouse attention and indicate to the sailboat that it was in danger. Although the Canada Senator did not slow down before the collision to allow more time to assess the situation, alterations of course taken by the vessel did not prevent the collision.

No recommendations were issued by the Board. However, the Board is concerned that, in the absence of a formal post-accident relief policy on the part of the Laurentian Pilotage Authority and/or the Corporation des pilotes du Saint Laurent central, a pilot involved in an accident may suffer increased stress and fatigue, creating the potential for increased risk of human error.

The Board is also troubled by the fact that pleasure craft operators may not be sufficiently aware that long voyages require a crew that is well rested and alert and that a structured relief system is necessary for safe navigation. The report also states that materials used in the construction of the Mondisy contributed to the rapid sinking upon impact with the Canada Senator.

On August 11, 2004, while proceeding on the St. Lawrence River after leaving the port of Montréal, Quebec, on its way to Gioia Tauro, Italy, the bridge team on board the Canada Senator sighted the Mondisy about two nautical miles ahead. The distance between the container ship and the sailboat decreased and, because the pilot of the Canada Senator was in doubt about the intentions of the Mondisy, warning signals were sounded on the ship's whistle on two occasions. Avoidance manoeuvres were carried out by the Canada Senator, but a collision ensued. As a result of the impact, the Mondisy sank almost instantly. Two of the four persons on board the Mondisy were recovered from the water with minor injuries, and the other two died.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Reported by Charlie Gibbons


Ports of Indiana handled all-time high $1.5 billion of cargo in 2005
Indiana port system sees 2% increase in volume and value from 2004

2/24 – The Ports of Indiana handled an all-time high of $1.531 billion of cargo in 2005. This was a 2 percent increase from 2004, which had been the only other year to break the $1 billion mark in the port system's 35-year history. In 2005, Indiana's three ports on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River moved 7.7 million tons of cargo – which was a 2-percent increase from 2004, a 38-percent jump from 2003 and more than every other year since 1998. Top cargoes by volume were grain, coal, steel, limestone, fertilizer, salt, asphalt and cement. As a state, Indiana ranks 14th in the nation for waterborne shipping by volume. The Ports of Indiana operates a system of ports in Mount Vernon, Jeffersonville and Burns Harbor/Portage.

Grain remained the largest volume cargo handled at the three ports with 2.2 million tons (+3%), just edging out coal shipments of 2.1 million tons (+21%). Grain and coal made up about 57 percent of the total cargo volume. Cargo value for the Ports of Indiana is largely dependent on steel prices which have nearly doubled in recent years. In 2005, steel made up 16 percent of the port system's total tonnage but more than 40 percent of the total value. Steel shipments are also very labor intensive and generate many additional handling and processing jobs at the ports.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor surpassed its five-year average by 2 percent with 2.2 million tons in 2005. There were shipping increases in magnesite (+166%), cottonseed (+113%), asphalt (+111%), fertilizer (+57%), limestone (+33%), project cargo (+6%) and additional coal shipments. The port handled more than $677 million of steel in 2005 and roughly 15 percent of all U.S. steel trade with Europe.

The 2005 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico had a varied impact on the Ports of Indiana. Barge shortages on the Ohio-Mississippi river system forced shippers to look for cargo handling alternatives - usually at an increased cost. While this may have hampered some end-of-year river shipments at all ports, it also rerouted some additional cargo to ships at the state's Lake Michigan port. Due to these shipping disruptions, all three of Indiana's ports experienced increased onsite grain storage totaling about 2 million bushels, an 18 percent increase from the normal capacity. Increases by port were 1 million bushels at Burns Harbor (+20%), 850,000 bushels at Jeffersonville (+53%) and 200,000 bushels (+4%) at Mount Vernon.

In addition to operating a statewide port system, the Ports of Indiana also provides foreign-trade zones and development financing for companies anywhere in Indiana. For more information about the Ports of Indiana, visit

Reported by Tom Milton


Seaway Opening Dates Announced

2/24 - St. Lawrence Seaway Notice No. 1-2006 has published the opening dates and maximum allowable drafts for sections of the Seaway. The opening of the 2006 navigation season is scheduled to take place on the following dates and times:
Montreal / Lake Ontario March 23, 2006 - 0800 hours (E.S.T.)
Welland Canal March 21, 2006 - 0800 hours (E.S.T.)
United States Soo Locks will open March 25

Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.

Allowable Draft:
In the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section, the draft will be 80.0 dm (26' 3") until the South Shore Canal is ice-free or April 15th, whichever occurs first, at which time, if water levels are favourable, the draft will be increased to 80.8 dm (26' 6") for all inland vessels and those ocean vessels equipped with bow thrusters. For all ocean vessels not equipped with bow thrusters the maximum allowable draft will remain 80.0 dm (26' 3"). In addition, there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6").

Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), speeds will be monitored carefully between St. Lambert Lock and St. Nicolas Island.

In the Welland Canal, a maximum allowable draft of 80.8 dm (26' 6") will be in effect from the start of the navigation season for all inland vessels and those ocean vessels equipped with bow thrusters. For all ocean vessels not equipped with bow thrusters the maximum allowable draft will be 80.0 dm (26' 3"). In addition, there will be zero tolerance for vessel drafts in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6''). Please note that, for vessels loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), speeds will be monitored carefully between the upper entrance to Lock 7 and former Bridge 12 in order to reduce bank erosion in this area.

Reported by Ron Walsh


Spectacular Inland Waters Cruising aboard the Georgian Clipper.

2/24 - Soon the ice will be off the river and vessels of all shapes and sizes will be plying the waters of the mighty St. Lawrence River. The newly refurbished 18 passenger Georgian Clipper, with its home port now in Kingston, Ontario is offering 5 night - 6 day overnight cruises beginning June 3 through October 11, 2006 in one of the most beautiful inland water destinations in the world, the famous Thousand Islands/Bay of Quinte region of Eastern Ontario.

Famous for its magnificent natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, all the waters of the five Great Lakes empty into the St. Lawrence River at the eastern-most end of Lake Ontario and then maneuvers its way around the Thousand Islands beginning the 1920 kilometre (1200 mile) journey to the Atlantic Ocean.

Our journey through the Thousand Islands/Bay of Quinte region will take in approximately 250 kilometres (155 miles) round trip of this important inland route, stopping at Kingston, Picton, Brockville, Rockport and Gananoque. A history of First Nations people in what is referred to as the “Garden of the Great Spirit”, the French fur trade, British Loyalist settlements along the north shore, and strategic battles during the American/British War of 1812, give the region a treasure trove of stories to tell and experiences to be had.

For more information we invite you to call 1-888-271-2628, email at or visit


Port Report - February 24

Sarnia - Frank Frisk
Peter R. Cresswell arrived at the north slip in Sarnia at 2:00 p.m. Thursday for winter lay up.


Updates - February 24

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 24

The Pittsburgh Steamship Co.’s RICHARD V LINDABURY (Hull#783) was launched February 24, 1923, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. Purchased by S & E Shipping (Kinsman) in 1978, renamed b.) KINSMAN INDEPENDENT.. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey in 1988.

The founder of Arnold Transit Co., long-time ferry operators between Mackinac Island and the mainland, George T. Arnold filed the Articles of Association on Feb. 24, 1900.

On 24 February 1920, TALLAC (formerly SIMON J MURPHY and MELVILLE DOLLAR, steel propeller, 235 foot, built in 1895, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was on a voyage from Colon, Panama to Baltimore, Maryland, when she stranded and was wrecked 18 miles south of Cape Henry, Virginia.

Data from: Roger LeLievre, 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.


Buckeye Placed on Dry Dock

2/23 - Erie, PA - The 698-foot Buckeye has made its way into the Erie shipyard's dry dock, the first time in nine years the dock has been used in that capacity.

"This is just the beginning,"said Ray Schreckengost, executive director of the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority. "This company will keep the shipyard extremely busy." The Port Authority owns the shipyard and leased it to Erie Shipbuilding LLC last fall, just months after Metro Machine left the shipyard.

The Buckeye, which was purchased by Erie Shipbuilding owner Dirk Van Enkevort, will be converted into a barge while in dry dock. The entire project will cost $9 million. At the same time, a $5 million engine overhaul will be completed on the tug Joseph H. Thompson Jr.

Workers originally planned on only bringing the Thompson into the dry dock after flooding it Monday. But a break in the weather convinced them to bring in the Buckeye as well, said Rob LeGrand, the company's production supervisor. The dry docking was delayed last week because of high winds that strafed the region. But the winds were so calm Monday that it was an ideal day to work, LeGrand said. "We got lucky with the wind so we just went ahead and did it," he said.

The dry dock, which sits 26 feet below the level of Presque Isle Bay and is longer than four football fields -- will be pumped out today to allow the Buckeye and the Thompson to settle on 177 two-ton blocks that have been placed to create an outline of the ship's hull. Once the water is gone, the hull will be exposed and the ship will be "dry docked."

Work on the Thompson and the Buckeye will be completed by spring.

From the Erie Times-News


John R. Emery For Sale

2/23 - The 101-year old John R. Emery has an uncertain future. The sand-sucker was sold to foreign interests this past fall and departed for a delivery to Panama. The vessel encountered problems in New York and eventually sunk at the dock. Crews dewatered the vessel and her main engines were found to still be in perfect operating condition.

Her current owner has placed the vessel up for sale again. It is currently listed on eBay with a high reserve. Local scrappers have also submitted bids and unfortunately, the historic vessel may be nearing the end of its life.


Canadian Stevedore Firm Signs into Chicago Port

2/23 - Chicago - A Canadian stevedoring company has moved into the Port of Chicago as waterborne commerce through Chicago is sharply rising. Port tenants' inbound and outbound cargo totaled 1,940,395 tons last year, up slightly from 1,883,843 in 2004, but more than double the 2002 and 2003 figures.

North America Stevedoring, a division of Quebec Stevedoring, has signed a long-term lease with the port district to establish docking facilities at Iroquois Landing, at 95th Street and Lake Michigan. Quebec Stevedoring operates 17 different facilities on the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. North America Stevedoring will handle a range of commodities, including steel, iron, ferro alloys, pig iron, coal and coke, as well as cargo and container shipping. The company is upgrading its port facility, which has 3,200 linear feet of berths, 190 acres of outside storage and 210,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Port District Executive Director Anthony Ianello said the Canadian company guaranteed annual increases in shipping tonnage and a "significant" boost in rental income.

From the Chicago-Sun Times


Fuel Costs Ignite Rise in Fast Ferry's Ticket Prices

2/23 - A spike in diesel fuel prices has led to a nearly 12 percent hike in 2006 adult round-trip fares for the Lake Express high-speed ferry service between Muskegon and Milwaukee. And ferry officials say they'll continue to collect a fuel surcharge fee started in 2005. The Milwaukee-based passenger and vehicle ferry service announced its rates for 2006 and began taking reservations today on its Web site. The cost for an automobile one way went up 10 percent.

Lake Express and other transportation companies have been hit hard by the increase in fuel prices, especially since the September Gulf Coast hurricanes. Midwest diesel prices today are in the $2.50 a gallon range, up from $1.90 a year ago, but prices rose sharply throughout the summer. The diesel price peaked at well over $3 a gallon in October.

The wild swings in fuel prices prompted Lake Express to impose a fuel surcharge on every ticket each way last year. The $5 fuel surcharge per one-way ticket in effect at the end of last sailing season will again be in place when the ferry begins its 2006 season April 29. The company could decide to increase or drop the surcharge as fuel prices rise and fall. "The increase in fuel costs are having ramifications throughout the economy," Lake Express President Ken Szallai said. "Lake Express has similarly been seriously affected. But even with the increase, Lake Express has been and remains a great value."

The Ludington-based Lake Michigan Carferry with service on the SS Badger to Manitowoc is currently accepting 2006 reservations at 2005 prices. Badger officials said that 2006 prices will be released shortly and will reflect a "modest" increase as compared to last year. Unlike the Lake Express, the Badger is a steamship operating on coal-fired boilers.

The cost of a Lake Express adult round-trip ticket will increase from $85 to $95 in 2006. The cost of taking an automobile one way will go from $59 to $65. However, the children's price of $40 round-trip will be extended to 16 and 17 year olds, who in the first two years of operation paid adult fare. "The price increase is something that Lake Express thought long and hard about -- there was not an increase last year," said company spokesman Jeff Fleming. "Fuel prices are a factor in any organization that transports goods or people. The Lake Express business plan required a rate change."

Lake Express is coming off its first two seasons "exceeding" anticipated ticket sales, company officials say. Although not releasing specific ridership numbers, Lake Express was believed to have carried more than 110,000 in its first season of operation in 2004. Last year, company officials said ridership on the 292-foot high-speed catamaran was up 10-15 percent from the inaugural year, to as high as 126,500.

"In our third year, Lake Express will continue to build on the success we have enjoyed during our first two years," Szallai said. "Our customers have offered overwhelming positive feedback to us and their loyalty has helped us exceed our anticipated ticket sales in both 2004 and 2005." Scheduled road construction in the Chicago area should give riders more incentives to take the Lake Express in 2006, company officials said. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, a major Dan Ryan Expressway (I-94) reconstruction in south Chicago should reduce the major highway's capacity by 50 percent beginning this spring.

Lake Express was established in part to eliminate the need for traveling through Chicago at the southern end of Lake Michigan. The 2 1/2-hour trip from Muskegon to Milwaukee directly links travelers from Michigan to Wisconsin. Lake Express market surveys show a majority of those not taking the ferry would drive through Chicago instead, Szallai said. "Driving is our biggest competition," he said of the ferry that carries up to 44 vehicles, several dozen motorcycles and 248 passengers.

Lake Express is beginning its season earlier than 2004 and 2005, when it began at the beginning of June and May 15 respectively. The additional weeks in May will be with three round trips a day. That schedule will continue until the beginning of October when the last month will be reduced to two trips a day. As was the case the past two seasons, the sailing day will begin in Milwaukee at 6 a.m. with departures also at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Departures from Muskegon will be 10:15 a.m., 4:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. All times are local.

From the Muskegon Chronicle


On Great Lakes, Winter Is Served Straight Up

2/23 - Put-In-Bay, Ohio — Two years ago, Sophia Schroeder had the best birthday of her life. She stood on frozen Lake Erie near this town on South Bass Island and ate ice cream. Her father dragged her sled across the ice behind his snowmobile. Later they ate birthday cake around a huge bonfire built right on the ice. "That was my favorite birthday party ever," said Sophia, now 7. This year, Sophia spent her birthday inside, playing video games with friends. "It's really boring here without ice," she said.

For the first time that anyone in Put-in-Bay could remember, the Great Lakes were ice-free in the middle of winter. Even Lake Erie, the shallowest of the five lakes and usually the first to freeze over, was clear. "There's essentially no ice at all," said George Leshkevich, a scientist who has studied Great Lakes ice for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, since 1973. "I've never seen that."

The unusually warm weather has upset the routine for hundreds of people who live year-round on islands in Lake Erie. On summer weekends, 14,000 tourists turn South Bass, the largest island on the American side of Lake Erie, into a teeming resort. "You either make your money in the summer or you don't make it at all," said Tip Niese, owner of the grocery store in Put-in-Bay, the only town on the island.

The first ice usually forms in late November, and by January it locks into place. For islanders, it is the equivalent of summer vacation. "Winter is the only time we get to see our friends," says Maggie Beckford, president of the Put-in-Bay chamber of commerce. "Everybody's too busy during the summer." Once the lake freezes, islanders organize impromptu ice rallies. Families gather to drink hot wine and race all-terrain vehicles across the lake. They also race iceboats, which resemble sailboats on skates. Put-in-Bay even has its own ice yacht club.

Many people drive to other islands for dinner with friends. They ride in cars with the roofs and doors chopped off so they can escape if the vehicles fall through the ice. Islanders stab evergreen trees into the ice every 50 yards to mark a route. "We'll drive across the lake to Canada, have a cocktail, then turn around and come home," says Kendra Koehler, editor of the monthly Put-in-Bay Gazette.

Even in the coldest winters, there are dangerous patches of thin ice. The cracks are so predictable that the Put-in-Bay Ice Yacht Club prints them on a map. One is called State Park Crack. Another, Green Island Crack, is known to be particularly wide and treacherous. "These big sheets of ice move just like tectonic plates," said Billy Market, president of the Miller Boat Line, a ferry company.

Knowing the cracks by heart is a job requirement for ice-fishing guides, who form the backbone of the islands' winter economy. On a normal winter day, the ice is dotted with 2,000 fishing shanties. "It looks like a little city," said Matt Miller, a ferry boat captain who is not related to the family that started the company. Even small, part-time guides bring 10 to 14 people across on weekends. "That's 14 hotel rooms, 14 steak dinners," said Pat Chrysler, a guide. "In a small community, that's a lot."

This year, the unusually warm weather wiped out the ice-fishing trade. Many guides tried boat fishing, but strong winds whipped up sediment and clouded the water so the walleyes could not see the lures. "I'm down $40,000," said Bud Gehring, another guide. "It's hurt everybody." With no ice fishing, 1,200 cases of beer sat unsold, stacked to the ceiling inside Niese's Island General Store. A bed-and-breakfast owner, Jean Burgess, has not rented a room all winter.

For the first time in its 100-year history, Miller Boat Lines ran a ferry across Lake Erie through the month of January. "We're not making money here," Mr. Market says. "It's our duty to do this." The ferry costs $12, and that means less work for airplane pilots, who charge $80 to fly round-trip to the islands. "This has knocked a big hole out of our business," said Melodie Griffing-Taylor, who has helped run Griffing Airlines since 1962. "I've never seen anything like it."

No one has, and that makes some islanders ponder the larger trend. "This winter makes global warming seem more real," Mr. Gehring said. "The weather sure is screwy the last couple years," Ms. Burgess says. "Global warming? Could be." Others are skeptical. "I don't believe in global warming," Ms. Griffing-Taylor said. "Weather cycles. It always has."

Whether differences in water temperature or ice thickness from year to year are symptoms of global warming or merely part of the weather cycle is open to debate. Even Brent Lofgren, a NOAA climatologist who believes in global warming, said that "in a small, regional area over a short period of time, it's hard to know what's happening."
On South Bass Island, even the people who have benefited from the warmer winter weather begrudge it. In his 26 years with the Miller Boat Line, maintenance manager Dave Bianci had never worked during the winter. Until now. "All things being equal," he said, "I'd rather be ice fishing."


Port Report - February 23

Welland Canal - Paul Beesley
The Welland Canal has been partially drained for the winter. This allows the St Lawrence Seaway to carry out repair work and remove bits and pieces that may pose a hazard to shipping. Between Locks 1 & 2, 3 & 4 and 6 & 7 has been drained.

The level between Locks 2 & 3 has been lowered but not drained. Work is progressing on several bridges as well as in the Locks and the canal proper.

A series of photos (News Photo Gallery) shows the canal and some of the work going on. Photos were taken on February 21. Only one month till spring Equinox!


Updates - February 23

News Photo Gallery updated with Welland Canal winter work scenes.

News Photo Gallery Seaway Traffic page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 23

The e.) U.S.S. ROTARY (YO-148) was commissioned on February 23, 1943, at Sullivan's Dry Dock & Repair Co., Brooklyn, New York and assigned duty with the Service Force, Third Naval District, Atlantic Fleet. The tanker was built in 1915 at Chatham, England by Chatham Dock Yard Ltd. as a.) H.M.S. SERVITOR. Renamed b.) PULOE BRANI in 1922, brought to the Lakes and renamed c.) B B MC COLL in 1927, and d.) A J PATMORE in 1929. After her U.S. Naval Service ROTARY reverted to her previous name f.) A J PATMORE and then g.) PEGGY REINAUER in 1946. Renamed h.) DETROIT early in 1955, she traded on the lakes until 1975. Her partially dismantled hull was abandoned in 1985, in the back waters of Lake Calumet.

On 23 February 1843, SANDUSKY (wooden side-wheeler, 148 foot, 377 tons, built in 1834, at Sandusky, Ohio) caught fire at her dock on Buffalo Creek in Buffalo, New York and burned to the hull. She was recovered, rebuilt as a 3-masted bark and lasted another two years.

Data from: 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.


New Operator has $10M in Public Funds to use on Toledo Shipyard Renovations

2/22 - Toledo - A Bedford Township company is taking over operation of the Toledo Shipyard, and will have the use of $10 million in public funds to renovate the facility. Tony LaMantia, president of Ironhead Marine Inc., and James Hartung, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said during a news conference yesterday the plan is for Ironhead to build entirely new machine and fabricating shop buildings on the Front Street property and level all existing buildings on the site.

Mr. Hartung, whose agency has owned the shipyard since 1985, said that Ironhead's management and the planned facility improvements will "not just restore shipbuilding in Toledo, but take us to a new level of impact in the industry." With the replacement of all buildings, Mr. Hartung said, "we are starting from scratch" to modernize the shipyard.

Ironhead, an industrial fabrication company that has been involved in several local bridge construction projects but is new to the maritime scene, replaces Manitowoc Marine Group, the previous shipyard operator which pulled out of the facility at the end of January. The port authority's board of directors still must approve the shipyard operating agreement with Ironhead. A resolution to that effect will be on the agenda for a board meeting tomorrow morning.

Two years ago, Manitowoc officials were present when public officials announced a $3.5 million federal grant to start the shipyard's modernization, including construction of a new "high-bay" fabrication shop that would allow large construction components to be built indoors instead of out in the elements. But last year, after a change in management, Manitowoc announced it was exercising an exit clause in its contract with the port authority.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) yesterday announced a second federal grant, of $4 million, toward the shipyard's improvement, which she described as both an economic development and national security project. The city of Toledo has pledged $1.5 million toward the modernization, while Lucas County is providing $1 million. Mr. LaMantia said demolition of derelict buildings on the site will begin almost immediately, so that new facilities can be built.

Full-time shipyard employment will grow from a current 20 to between 40 and 80 workers by year's end, and is to reach 150 to 200 within two years, Mr. LaMantia said. Eventually, the operation could double its payroll again, to between 300 and 400, depending on how well it establishes itself in the shipbuilding and repair industry. "We've got to build up our resume and get confidence from the marine industry that we can do this kind of work," Mr. LaMantia said.

But some business should naturally gravitate to the local shipyard once it has modern facilities, the Ironhead president said, simply because as currently equipped, it can't handle certain types of repairs or fabrications. Ironhead Fabricating and Contracting Inc., the parent of Ironhead Marine, will move its current fabricating shop on Crabb Road in Bedford Township, which employs about 22 people, to the shipyard in about 18 months, he said.

Ironhead yesterday signed seven-year labor contracts with Machinists Local 105 and Boilermakers Local 85. The machinists now represent just seven workers at the yard, but Joe Chaszar, president of the local, said he's confident that the roster will grow under Ironhead's management. "I believe Tony is going to do what he says he will do. He's a very fair individual," Mr. Chaszar said.

The Toledo Shipyard dates to 1893, and was acquired by the port authority three years after American Shipbuilding ceased operations there.

From the Toledo Blade


Mackinaw Museum Group Turns to Firms That Built the Cutter

2/22 - Cheboygan - Members of the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum Committee are actively seeking donations towards the planned retirement berth of the soon-to-be-decommissioned ship from some of the maritime industries that built the vessel. “We've sent out letters to companies that dealt with building the Mackinaw and the equipment on board,” said Joanne Harrison, treasurer for the group, following a meeting Monday. “We'll follow up soon with phone calls to gauge their interest.”

The committee is exploring the concept of seeking donations from companies whose engines, designs or technical equipment may have been part of the Mackinaw's lore from past years. Some of the companies went out of business long ago or have been sold several times. Other names still operate today as they did in 1943 when the Mackinaw's keel was laid at the Toledo Shipyard. With parts no longer available for some systems built by firms more than 60 years ago, the Mackinaw's engineers have had to contract with a railroad junk yard in Texas at times to get parts and materials to be fabricated for use in the ship's aging power plant.

“Roger Schwartz (of the committee) works on some of the freighters and those companies are being contacted,” Harrison said. “We're trying to reach shipping companies that are helped by the Mackinaw today and of course companies that helped to build the Mackinaw.” The idea is that a company such as Fairbanks-Morse, which built the icebreaker's giant engines, may contribute to the preservation of the ship and in turn design display signage for the interior that would tell the company's story and how their product was built for the ship.

In addition, the committee has made a request of the Coast Guard to identify what items will be taken from the ship following its June 9 decommissioning and what equipment or items will be left behind. Harrison said there are some equipment items that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may want removed for use on another vessel, but that much of the ship's inventory should remain for all to see as a museum display. “We're saying to the Coast Guard that we realize what they'll want off the ship,” she said. “We've requested from them what we want to stay on the ship. This way it's in writing and we have a chance to identify what we'll have before decommissioning day arrives.”

The group is also planning a fund-raising concert by folksinger Lee Murdock for March 11 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.

From the Cheboygan Tribune


Capt. Triner Reassigned to DC Job
Skipper of new Mackinaw who was relieved of duty has operations desk slot

2/22 - Cheboygan - Capt. Donald Triner, who served as the first commanding officer of the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw from its keel-laying until delivery to Cheboygan, has been reassigned to a new post in Washington, D.C., the Coast Guard confirmed Friday. Triner's new job, while not aboard a ship, appears to be a desk job that will have his finger on the pulse of Coast Guard operations worldwide.

The former Mac captain, 43, will become the chief at the Office of Current Operations in Washington. The office houses two divisions: the Coast Guard Command Center and the National Response Center. The position reports to the commandant of the fleet. The Coast Guard Command Center team coordinates operational information flowing to senior Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, headquarters program managers, and Area and District staffs to ensure their situational awareness.

The National Response Center serves as the sole national point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, biological and etiological discharges into the environment. It has the same responsibility for handling suspicious acts of terrorism and facility security breaches anywhere in the United States or its territories.

Triner must complete four major administrative processes to take on the job, a process for which he is presently qualifying and could take a year to finish.

He was permanently relieved of the Mackinaw's command January 11 and temporarily assigned to the Milwaukee office of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. Triner has remained unavailable for comment since his temporary relief as the new Mackinaw's captain December 12.

From the Cheboygan Tribune


Inside Boatnerd

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 page, or send the information to

Boatnerd Gatherings Scheduled
Another Boatnerd Cruise on the St. Clair River has been added to the schedule for July 15 aboard the Hammond Bay. Check the Gatherings Page for a complete list.

We have been able to schedule a tour of the Port Weller Dry Docks as part of the Welland Gathering on October 13. Details to be finalized. Mark your calendar and plan to attend.

Other events will be posted as they are added.

Boatnerd Trip Raffles
Two new chances to win a trip on a Great Lakes freighter have been added recently to the Raffle Page. Check the trip page for all the available chances.


Maritime Days Coming Up in Cleveland

The annual Great Lakes Marine Community Days and Admiral’s Dinner will be held March 7-8 at the Cleveland Marriot Public Square. Marine Community Day provides a forum for open exchange of valuable information on issues of mutual concern to the Great Lakes marine community and officials from all levels of government and industry.

Guest speaker will be Blaine Collins, vice president of Det Norske Veritas (DNV) North America, who will speak on “Maritime Commerce: Lifeline for the World.” For more information, visit

Reported by Seaway Review/Great Laker


Mittal Buyout Offer Targets 1,000 workers

2/22 - Weirton, W.Va. - Mittal Steel Co. on Monday announced a buyout offer of cash or health care benefits to about 1,000 of its West Virginia employees who are targeted under cutbacks first announced last fall. The reductions are part of the steelmaker's plan to shut down Weirton's blast furnace and essentially make a finishing mill out of an operation that once employed some 13,000 workers and now provides jobs for one-tenth as many people.

Neither the company nor the Independent Steelworkers Union would discuss specifics until worker meetings Wednesday to explain the deal.

Mittal, based in The Netherlands, took control of Weirton in April through a $4.5 billion deal with former owner International Steel Group of Richfield, Ohio. ISG had won a bidding war for Weirton, the nation's No. 2 tin producer, in bankruptcy court in 2004.


Task Force Seeks More Time for Lighthouse Fairport Keeping

2/22 - Fairport Harbor- Lake Erie storms have had more than 80 years to batter a Fairport Harbor lighthouse, and Lake County officials need just a little more time to form their plan to restore it. County leaders have formed a task force to restore the Fairport Harbor West Breakwall Lighthouse, which is at the end of a craggy breakwall just east of Mentor Headlands Beach State Park. Another city lighthouse has been turned into a museum.

The two-story breakwall lighthouse, built in 1925, is one of 301 lighthouses made available to nonprofit groups by the U.S. Department of the Interior under its National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Program. Five of the available lighthouses are in Ohio. The goal is to use the buildings for education and provide public access. "It is a landmark with a lot of emotional appeal," said Bob Ulas, executive director of the Lake County Visitors Bureau, one of several agencies trying to preserve the breakwall lighthouse. "There is a certain romance and allure with lighthouses. It draws visitors, some of whom come to just sit and watch them."

A task force composed of the visitors bureau, county planning commission, Lake County Historical Society and Lake Metroparks wants a delay in the federal government's March 6 deadline for applications. The lighthouses were offered for free to nonprofit groups with plans and money to preserve the historic buildings. The Coast Guard will maintain lights and foghorns at the lighthouses.

Getting into the lighthouses can be challenging. The Fairport lighthouse sits at the end of rocky breakwall that is nearly a mile long. The only ladder is on the opposite side, hanging in the water. "We would have to build an access pier and dock," said Metroparks Recreation Director Brian Fowler, who estimated the group would need about $1 million for the restoration. If nonprofit groups cannot come up with money to save the lighthouse, Fowler said, the government will offer it to private owners.

"It is an icon for Lake County. Its image is printed on all sorts of promotional items," Fowler said. "Everyone identifies with it as a part of the lake. It would be silly to get rid of it or see it crumble." Others in the region agree. Melinda Huntley, executive director of the scenic Lake Erie Coastal Highway Trail, last week gathered visitors bureaus and lighthouse preservation groups from Toledo, Cleveland, Lorain and Ashtabula to explore ways to promote tourism and preservation.

The coastal highway from Toledo through Ashtabula features views of 18 lighthouses, each with its own charm and mystique, she said. "They are all very majestic," Huntley said. "They are some of the few authentic places we have left to preserve." The group seeks federal grants to link the lighthouses and maritime museums on a coastal tour. "Our goal is to help these gems become more visible," she said.

Huntley said in Lorain, the Port of Lorain Foundation raised $500,000 to refurbish the lighthouse interior and install a walkway and landing. "It can help us not only with tourism but with preserving features that make our region unique," Huntley said. "Once they are gone, they're gone."

Anyone interested in assisting in the preservation can e-mail Fowler at

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Norgoma to Get a Facelift; Councillors Ready to Jump Ship

2/22 - Sault, Ontario - The Norgoma's about to get a major sprucing up and will be ship-shape for this summer's tourist season. But City councillors didn't know that before last night's council meeting and some of them were ready to jump ship on the slow-moving waterfront attraction.

"Beginning March 27, nine employees will be on board to waterproof the decks as well as chipping the paint off then totally repainting the exterior of the ship," St. Mary's River Marine Centre Chair Gordon Smedley told "That program [to restore the Norgoma's exterior and entryway] is fully in place and supported by our donors and volunteers," he said. The people staffing the project will have their wages paid by Human Resources Development Canada and are on staff until July 1, said Smedley. "It [the Norgoma] will be essentially ship shape by tourist season," he said.

Smedley can't understand why none of this information appeared in a report prepared by City Commissioner of Community Services Nick Apostle recommending that City Council deny core funding to the Norgoma. The report, requested by Council on January 9, was presented to councillors last night. Council had asked for information on possibly relocating the vessel to the Sault Ste. Marie Canal Historic Site, or alternatively, scrapping it.

Apostle is recommending that Council not provide core funding to St. Mary's River Marine Centre board because it's been unable to develop the Norgoma as a money-making tourist attraction in the 31 years it has been operating the venture. "It appears that most citizens of Sault Ste. Marie do not support keeping the Norgoma, using ongoing municipal tax funding," said Apostle in his report. Mayor Rowswell suggested that the City sit down with the St. Mary's River Marine Centre Board to explore options.

Ward 5 Councillor David Celetti vehemently opposed the idea, saying that people are tired of wasting tmoney on the ship and it's time the City moved forward with a plan to improve its waterfront. Ward 1 Councillor Steve Butland said that he had only one phone call supporting maintenance and restoration of the Norgoma with tax dollars. "It seems like it's almost time to abandon ship," said Butland.

In answer to Council's questions, Smedley said the St. Mary's River Marine Centre Board is prepared to carry on with or without council's financial support and to meet with the mayor as well as any other interested Councillors to discuss options for the Norgoma. He left councillors a letter of response to Apostle's report. In his letter, Smedley cited a numner of major projects undertaken by the board since its takeover of the Norgoma 31 years ago. Those projects have included asbestos removal, electrical upgrades and repairs as well as restoration of decks, quarters and dining areas, he said.

"These works have largely been completed by a committed team of volunteers," he said. "While all this was taking place, over the years we hosted over 100,000 visitors, employed over 100 students and hosted weddings, reunions and other special events." Smedley said that not getting funding for summer students to operate the Norgoma as a tourist attraction set back the board's plan for restoration and development of the ship as a tourist centre. But he says it hasn't scuttled the plan.

"The Norgoma is a very important part of our community heritage and its significance in the region and the province is well documented," he said. "There is also considerable recent support for recognition of its national significance." Smedley said that the Norgoma was once the only reliable way to move goods, people and mail around the North Channel and he said the Sault was the heart of all this activity. He said that the vessel played a vital role in the development of communities such as Richard's Landing, Hilton Beach, Coburn Island, Thessalon and Owen Sound.



Environmental Lecture on Sandusky River, Thursday, Feb.23

Dr. David Baker of Heidelberg College will present a lecture on Conservation and Restoration of the Sandusky River Watershed as part of the 2005-2006 AU Environmental Lecture Series. The lecture will be at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, February 23, in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public and designed for a general audience. The AU community is cordially invited to attend.

Dr. Baker will describe efforts in the Sandusky River watershed to meet requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Total Maximum Daily Load program to support different uses of the river. Factors affecting the Sandusky and other rivers include point and non-point sources of pollution as well as factors affecting stream habitat and hydrology. Dr. Baker played an important role in the formation of the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition (, which provides leadership for the conservation and enhancement of the Sandusky River watershed and its natural resources through community-based planning, education, and action. Dr. Baker will describe some of the efforts and studies underway for the Sandusky River.

Dr. Baker has received numerous career awards from organizations including the EPA Science Advisory Board, The Nature Conservancy, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. Baker retired as the director of the Water Quality Laboratory in 1999, but he continues publication and speaking activities associated with the laboratory and serves as a resource person to students in the Water Resources Program.

Baker has published more than 50 peer-reviewed and scientific publications on water quality, sediment and nutrient contamination and effects of land use on watersheds. He received a B.S. in biology from Heidelberg College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in botany (plant physiology) from the University of Michigan.

Additional information on the 2005-2006 Environmental Lecture Series is available at lecture_series.html , and previous lectures are archived for viewing.


Port Report - February 22

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell arrived outside the Goderich piers at noon on Tuesday, but had to wait outside until the CCGS Griffon cleared a path in the heavy ice into the channel and the MacDonald Marine tugs loosened up the ice along the Sifto Salt dock. The Cresswell started backing in about 3:00 p.m. and was secure at the dock by 5:00 p.m. This is apparently the final load of the season and the February 21, 2006 entry into the port will probably be a record that won't be broken for many years to come, if ever. The Cresswell should be bound for the Detroit area early Wednesday.


Updates - February 22

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Seaway Traffic page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 22

On 22 February 1920, the Goodrich Line’s ALABAMA (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 272 foot, 2,626 gross tons, built in 1909, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) ran aground on a concrete obstruction which was the foundation of the old water-intake crib in Lake Michigan off Belmont Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The SIDNEY O NEFF (wooden package freighter, 149 foot, 346 gross tons, built in 1890, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) took off the ALABAMA’s cargo and then harbor tugs pulled the ALABAMA free. Repairs to her hull took the rest of the winter and she didn’t return to service until May 1920.

February 22, 1925 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 made her maiden voyage.

On 22 February 1878, the 156 foot wooden freighter ROBERT HOLLAND was purchased by Beatty & Co. of Sarnia for $20,000.

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.


Toledo Shipyard to Get New Owner

2/21 - Toledo - A new plan could breathe life into the floundering Toledo Shipyard on Front Street near the Mallard Road overpass in east Toledo. The news of new jobs and new development came out Monday, just a few months after the Wisconsin-based Manitowoc Marine Group pulled out of the site.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is expected to announce Tuesday that Ironhead Marine, headed by Tony and Kathy Lamantia, will take over the shipyard. They have twenty employees already hard at work there, repairing a barge.

The Lamantias plan to demolish the current complex, then build from the ground up. After the new facility is finished, they'll have anywhere from 40 to 80 people working there, doing ship repair and metal fabricating. That's welcome news at Boilermakers Local 85, whose workers will get that work. The union's business manager, Fred Keith, says, "It can be as big as the dream, and we got some people there that want to do some big things." Keith thinks it's possible there'll be up to 300 people working at the new facility. He says, "...that would be a great thing."

Ironhead Marine is due to receive a multi-million-dollar package from the city, county, Port Authority, and federal government -- money that will be used to revamp the shipyard. While ship repair and metal fabricating is the facility's main focus, News 11 learned that building barges and tug boats could also be part of the mix in the future.

A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to officially announce


(Ed Note: It is believed that Ironhead Marine will be the new operator of the shipyard. The yard is owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.)


Powerful Winds Push Two Lakes' Water to East

In a dramatic example of the power of Friday's windstorm, water levels rose 3-1/2 feet in a few hours at the Buffalo end of Lake Erie — and fell nearly that much at the lake's western end. A similar, though less pronounced, change occurred in Lake Ontario.

The primary cause: sustained powerful winds from the west-southwest, which piled up the water at the lakes' eastern ends. "Something on that magnitude happens once every three years or so," said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Hamilton. "On a lesser scale, it's maybe twice a winter."

Water levels at Erie's eastern end rose 3.6 feet from midnight to 7 a.m., when wind in the region reached its peak. Water levels are recorded by gauges maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which makes the data available online. A gauge in Toledo, Ohio, at Erie's western end, showed a drop of 2.9 feet in the same time span.

The water level at Cape Vincent, Jefferson County, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, had risen just more than 2 feet by 9:30 a.m. Friday. Buildups of water are more common in Lake Erie than Lake Ontario, Hamilton said, because Erie is shallower and is aligned southwest to northeast, the direction typically followed by the fiercest prevailing winds in autumn and winter.

The National Weather Service had warned of a potential 6-foot rise at Buffalo and resultant flooding, though none occurred. There was flooding reported along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Jefferson County, Hamilton said. Residents along the Monroe County shoreline reported erosion because of the lake level and wind-whipped turbulence.

As the wind abated later Friday, the water levels began to drop at the eastern ends of the lakes. That marked the start of a phenomenon known as a seiche (pronounced "saysh"), in which the water returns from whence it came, and then rebounds. "The initial 2- to 3-foot rise is what you get with a hurricane, a surge. The water then sloshes back to Toledo, and then it sloshes back here again. That's the actual seiche," Hamilton said. By 4 p.m. Friday, for example, the water level in Buffalo had already fallen more than 5 feet from its morning high.

The water-in-a-bathtub effect of seiches continues for many hours on a predictable cycle, with levels rising a little less each time, until the lake returns to a state of relative equilibrium. The lore of the Great Lakes include tales of spectacular seiches, including several on Lake Erie that caused the water level in Buffalo to be as much as 15 feet higher than that in Toledo.

Lake Michigan also has seen many huge seiches, including one on July 4, 1929, that caused the drowning deaths of 10 holiday beach-goers in Michigan.

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Port Report - February 21

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Saginaw arrived at Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, at 9:30 a.m. Monday for dry docking.

Saginaw was placed in the graving dock upon arrival. Assisting were tugs Bayship, and the Selvick tugs William C. Selvick, Jimmy L., Sharon M. Selvick and Susan L. She went over the graving dock sill at noon.

The Saginaw had a tough trip through the ice in the Straits of Mackinac while heading to Sturgeon Bay from Sarnia.  The vessel became stuck on Sunday and required the assistance of the USCG Mackinaw to pass through the Straits. The Mackinaw spent about 4 hours escorting the Saginaw until reaching the ice edge in the vicinity of White Shoal Light, on the west end of the Straits.


Updates - February 21

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Seaway Traffic page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 21

The EDWIN H GOTT arrived at Two Harbors. Minnesota (her first trip) February 21, 1979, with the loss of one of her two rudders during her transit of Lake Superior. Also the other rudder post was damaged. She was holed in her bow and some of her cargo hold plating ruptured as a result of frozen ballast tanks. Even the MACKINAW suffered damage to her port propeller shaft on the trip across frozen Lake Superior.

At Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. the keel of the new bow section for the HILDA MARJANNE was laid on February 21, 1961, while at the same time the tanker hull forward of her engine room bulkhead was being cut away.

On 21 February 1929, SAPPHO (wooden propeller passenger ferry, 107 foot, 224 gross tons, built in 1883, at Wyandotte, Michigan) burned at her winter lay-up dock in Ecorse, Michigan. She had provided 46 years of service ferrying passengers across the Detroit River. She was neither repaired nor replaced since the Ambassador Bridge was nearing completion.

Data from: 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.


Updates - February 20

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 20

On February 20, 1959, Interlake Steamship Co.’s HERBERT C JACKSON (Hull#302) was launched at Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Michigan.

The Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker DES GROSEILLIERS (Hull#68) was launched February 20, 1982, at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd.

On 20 February 1903, the straight deck steamer G WATSON FRENCH (steel propeller, 376 foot, 3,785 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. (Hull#608). She lasted until 1964, when she was scrapped by Lakehead Scrap Metal Co. at Fort William, Ontario. The other names she had during her career were b.) HENRY P WERNER in 1924, c.) JOHN J BOLAND in 1937, and d.) ALGOWAY in 1947.

Data from: Jody Aho, 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.


Inside Boatnerd

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 page, or send the information to

Boatnerd Gatherings Scheduled
Another Boatnerd Cruise on the St. Clair River has been added to the schedule for July 15 aboard the Hammond Bay. Check the Gatherings Page for a complete list. Other events will be posted as they are added.

Boatnerd Trip Raffles
Two new chances to win a trip on a Great Lakes freighter have been added recently to the Raffle Page. Check the trip page for all the available chances.


Port Report - February 19

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
Gale force winds in the 50 to 60 MPH range caused a seiche condition on Lake Erie during Friday morning. Ten to 12 foot waves were crashing over the seawalls from the Bufalo Outer Harbor down to the Hamburg area. The lake had been running nearly two feet above low water datum as the storm surge crested at eight feet and caused some minor flooding along the waterfront.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell was backing into the Sifto Salt dock Saturday evening at 8:00 pm. There are moderate ice conditions in the channel and inner harbour that had blown in with the stiff westerly winds on Friday. This load should be heading to the Detroit area, with one additional load booked for the first of next week. The Cresswell becomes the latest arrival in port on record, breaking the previous one set on February 15, 2005, by the Canadian Progress. If all goes well the Cresswell should be down bound by noon on Sunday.

St. Clair River - James Taylor, Gordy Garris & Frank Frisk
The Saginaw departed her Winter Lay-Up at the Cargill dock in Sarnia, ON harbor around noon Saturday and headed downriver to the Shell Fuel dock to fuel. Around 5pm, the Saginaw departed up bound headed for Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin for the remainder of her Winter Lay-Up. With her departure, Sarnia harbor can expected a vessel to take her place at the Cargill dock for Winter Lay-Up, (possibly the Peter R. Cresswell).


Updates - February 19

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Seaway Traffic page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 19

The b.) TROY H BROWNING, c.) THOMAS F PATTON was towed from the James River with two other C4s, the LOUIS MC HENRY HOWE, b.) TOM M GIRDLER and MOUNT MANSFIELD, b.) CHARLES M. WHITE, to the Maryland Dry Dock Co., Baltimore, Maryland, February 1951, to be converted to a Great Lakes bulk carrier according to plans designed by J.J. Henry & Co., New York, New York.

Wolf & Davidson of Milwaukee sold the JIM SHERIFFS (wooden propeller, 182 foot, 634 gross tons, built in 1883, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) to Kelley Island Line on 19 February 1887.

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.


Erie Shipyard opens dry dock for first time in 9 years

2/18 - Erie Shipyard opens dry dock for first time in 9 years According to an article in the Erie Times-News, the Buckeye will enter the Erie shipyard's graving dock sometime in the next few days, officially bringing the ship repair and building industry back to Erie, Pennsylvania.

It's been nine years since a ship has been dry-docked at the Erie shipyard.

The dry dock -- set 26 feet below the bay's water level -- is longer than four football fields and is one of two on the Great Lakes capable of holding a 1,000-foot ship.

The facility works like a bathtub, first filling up with water so the ship can pull into the dock, and then being drained so that the hull of the ship is exposed.

"This is what this place was built for," said Bob Brown, who has worked for three businesses at the shipyard, including the new Erie Shipbuilding LLC. "Everyone's excited to see it happening."

Erie Shipbuilding moved into the former Litton shipyard in October, just months after Metro Machine left.

Company President Dirk Van Enkevort, a former ship captain, impressed the Port Authority with his company's hefty lineup of projects, including $100 million worth of work in five years.

The largest project will start this fall, with the construction of a new 740-foot barge and 135-foot tug.

But Erie Shipbuilding's first project starts now, as the Buckeye is brought into the dry dock. It will be turned into a barge in a $9 million conversion.

The Buckeye, built in 1952, was known as the Sparrows Point until 1991. It hauled iron ore and stone all over the Great Lakes.

In addition to working on the Buckeye, a tug for another barge will also be pulled into the dry dock and undergo a $5 million engine conversion at the same time work on the Buckeye is being done.

It will take welders, electricians and laborers to do the work at the shipyard. Already, 35 have been hired. Van Enkevort expects to hire another 25 once the ship and tug are in dry dock.

He is hoping to have the massive shipyard buzzing with 200 workers or more by the end of 2006. "We'll ramp up as we go," Van Enkevort told the Erie Times-News Bob Brown was one of the first to be hired by Erie Shipbuilding.

He's far from a newcomer to the shipyard, however. He's worked here before, first for Erie Marine and then for Metro Machine. Both times he lost his job when the companies went out of business.

For more than 50 years, crews of about 25 men slept in bunk beds on the Buckeye, took their meals in the galley and played cards in the lounge.

Ghostly reminders of their presence are still everywhere. You can find them in a drawing of a forest scene left taped to the wall in the equipment room. They're in the gray lockers, where a yellow raincoat hangs, and in the logbook that still hangs on a nail near the captain's quarters. The shipyard was built in its current location in 1968. That was the year construction of Litton Industries' $20 million Erie Marine Division began.

The plant operated only five years but it constructed part of two vessels, including the Stewart J. Cort in 1971 and the Presque Isle tug and barge in 1973. The Presque Isle is being laid up this winter in Presque Isle Bay.

Tenants have come and gone ever since Litton departed. But the size and type of jobs Erie Shipbuilding is undertaking has many business leaders hopeful that the shipyard has found a tenant that will last, and be profitable for the entire community.

Beyond that, watching the dry dock used for the first time in nine years will be a thrill, said Jake Rouch, the chief executive of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.

"Erie Shipbuilding is exciting for two reasons," Rouch said. "First, for the number and high quality of the jobs it brings to the region. But also, they're bringing a real-life shipbuilding experience back to the Erie region. Shipping is such a huge part of our history it's exciting to have our waterfront active in that way again."

The dry-docking process will start as soon as weather permits, Van Enkevort said. Workers are hopeful weather will allow them to flood the dock Saturday and bring the Buckeye in sometime early in the week, he said.

The projects are expected to be completed by spring.

Reported by Erie Times-News


Updates - February 18

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Seaway Traffic page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 18

IMPERIAL ST CLAIR participated in an historic special convoy with DOAN TRANSPORT, which carried caustic soda, led by C.C.G.S. GRIFFON arriving at Thunder Bay, Ontario on February 18, 1977. The journey took one week from Sarnia, Ontario through Lake Superior ice as much as six feet thick, and at one point it took four days to travel 60 miles. The trip was initiated to supply residents of the Canadian Lakehead with 86,000 barrels of heating oil the reserves of which were becoming depleted due to severe weather that winter.

The b.) JOSEPH S YOUNG, a.) ARCHERS HOPE, was towed to the Great Lakes via the Mississippi River and arrived at the Manitowoc Ship Building Co., Manitowoc, Wisconsin on February 18, 1957, where her self unloading equipment was installed. This was the last large vessel to enter the Lakes via the Mississippi. She was the first of seven T-2 tanker conversions for Great Lakes service. Renamed c.) H LEE WHITE in 1969, and d.) SHARON in 1974. SHARON was scrapped at Brownsville, Texas in 1986.

The Murphy fleet was sold on 18 February 1886. The tugs GLADIATOR, KATE WILLIAMS and BALIZE went to Captain Maytham, the tug WILLIAM A MOORE to Mr. Grummond, the schooner GERRIT SMITH to Captain John E. Winn, and the tug ANDREW J SMITH to Mr. Preston Brady.

Data from: Jody Aho, 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.


Ashtabula Man Sentenced for Hoax Distress Callls

2/17 - Cleveland - An Ashtabula native was sentenced Feb. 7 for making hoax distress calls to Coast Guard Station Fairport Harbor.

Shawn T. King was sentenced by Judge Donald C. Nugent to the Bureau of Prisons for 18 months with three years supervised release. King was ordered to pay resititution of $84,000 to the Coast Guard at the rate of 25 percent of gross monthly income.

"False distress calls not only cost taxpayers money and place Coast Guard members at increased personal risk, but more importantly, they divert limited resources from mariners who are in actual distress," stated Capt. Paul Preusse, chief of response for the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland.

USCG News Release


Duluth Seaway Port Authority Extended Tonnage Figures Released;
Coal now surpasses iron ore

2/17 - Duluth — Total 2005 season waterborne commerce through the Port of Duluth-Superior reached 41.7 million metric tons, a one percent increase from last season’s 41.2 million tons and the Port’s highest tonnage level reached since 1979’s 43.8 million tons.

Strong performance in western coal shipments and increased international grain shipments boosted Port tonnage above last year’s level despite slightly reduced iron ore shipments. Highlighting bulk cargo activity was Midwest Energy Resources Company’s record-breaking year of low-sulfur coal shipments as its Superior facility moved 18.8 million metric tons. This was nearly 13 percent above the previous season’s 16.7 million tons and the highest level reached for the facility since it began operations in 1976.

According to the Farm Service Administration, about 166,000 metric tons of wheat and beans (six transshipment laker vessel loads) were rerouted this season through the Port of Duluth-Superior from the Mississippi River due to hurricane damage along the Gulf Coast. Coupled with a strong fall wheat harvest, Port grain exports reached 2.8 million metric tons, nearly 12 percent above last season’s 2.5 million tons.

Iron ore shipments of 16.6 million metric tons reflected a decrease of seven percent from last season’s 17.9 million tons, due mainly to a third-quarter softening of the domestic steel industry. Industry experts forecast a strong production year in 2006, with worldwide demand, a weakening dollar and a stabilized economy contributing to steady production.

Total international cargos of 12.7 million metric tons surpassed last season’s 12 million tons by nearly six percent. Domestic trade of 29 million tons represented a less than one percent decrease from last year’s figure of 29.1 million tons.

Coal surpassed iron ore in 2005 as the Port’s tonnage leader, representing 45 percent of total commerce. The Port’s three principal cargoes of coal, iron ore and grain combined represented 92 percent of total commerce, with iron ore’s shipments of 16.6 million tons making up 40 percent and grain movements of 2.8 million tons contributing seven percent.

The Port continued during the 2005 season to see the development of major distribution and trans-loading activity within the pulp/paper and lumber industry, and to serve as the entry point for major project cargoes related to Canadian tar sands and Midwest wind farm developments.

The 2005 season’s first commercial vessel arrival was Interlake Steamship Company’s Lee A. Tregurtha on March 26. The Bahamian-flagged Utviken was the first full Seaway transit, arriving April 11. The season’s last vessel to transit the Seaway was the British West Indies-flagged Federal St. Laurent on December 19. The Montreal Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway System saw it last vessel traffic December 29, and the Welland Canal closed December 30.

The Port’s last outbound cargo vessel of the season down bound through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was Interlake Steamship Company’s Mesabi Miner, which left January 13. The Soo Locks officially closed to vessel traffic at midnight January 15, and will open again to spring vessel traffic March 25.

Interlake Steamship Company’s James R. Barker marked the Port’s last vessel movement of the season, arriving for winter berthing on January 17. There were 11 vessels wintering in the Port this season. Information on the 2006 First Ship Contest will soon be available on the Port Authority’s website at . The winner of the contest will receive a “Visit Duluth” weekend, including hotel accommodations, meals and passes to local attractions. The annual contest is sponsored by Visit Duluth, 92 KQRS Minneapolis and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

Total vessel arrivals in 2005 of 1,138 represented an increase of 49. There were 755 U.S.-flag, 253 Canadian-flag and 130 overseas vessels.



Port Report - February 17

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
On Tuesday, the Stewart J. Cort came out of the drydock all repainted. Assisted by Selvick tugs, she was rafted off the Paul R. Tregurtha. Now rafted outside the Cort are the St. Clair and David Z. Norton.

Also this week the former Washington Island Lines C/F Voyageur came out of the building where she was being renovated for her new/present owners, Shoreline Marine, Chicago. Still with much work to go and repainting needed, she has a distinctive hull configuration change. Her after deckhouse has been lowered down (with a dining area added within) by a deck in height to fit under the Chicago bridges and her bulwarks has been wrapped. Quite classy looking. Once painted and placed in the water later on, she should make a nice looking addition to Shoreline Marine's fleet.


Updates - February 17

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Seaway Traffic page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 17

In heavy weather on February 17, 1981, the WITSUPPLY, b.) TRANSTREAM foundered in the Caribbean Sea off Cabo de la Vela, Colombia. She was being towed to the scrap yard at Cartagena, Columbia when she sank.

February 17, 1977 - The CITY OF MIDLAND 41 shortly after departing Ludington encountered a heavy ridge of ice that snapped all the blades off her starboard propeller. One of the blades ripped a hole two feet long by three inches wide which caused the 41 to take on water, but pumps were able to keep her afloat. SPARTAN came out to free her but also became mired in the ice. On February 18 the cutter MACKINAW freed them.

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.


St. Helena Island Lighthouse Gets Thorough Polishing
End in sight for historic facility's long restoration

2/16 - Mackinaw City - The lighthouse on St. Helena Island in the Straits of Mackinac never stopped shining, but certainly needed a polish. Two decades of lighthouse restoration nears completion, although continued maintenance remains a priority, said Dick Moehl, president of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. The Mackinaw City-based group works with 370 lighthouses in the Great Lakes, but has owned St. Helena Island Lighthouse since 1997.

"It was automated in 1922 and it's still a major navigational aid," Moehl said. Although it continued to operate, the lighthouse building was reduced to shambles by the time restoration began in 1986. Vegetation was overgrown, and two fires scorched the interior of the structure that was missing the roof and all windows and doors. "It really was a mess," Moehl said of combined deterioration and vandalism.

About $1.3 million so far has been spent to return the dilapidated lighthouse to its original splendor, with volunteers each summer working on the building and grounds. Two projects are scheduled this summer, including work on the interior of the lantern room and rebuilding trolley tracks from the shoreline to the restored boathouse. The transformation was splendid enough to draw the attention of an anonymous retired couple from northwestern Lower Michigan, avid boaters who stopped by the lighthouse a couple of times. They pledged money to fund continued work and maintenance at St. Helena Island Lighthouse, a $2 match for every $1 donated in 2006, up to $25,000. "This will preserve this thing for another 100 years," Moehl said.

The donors were impressed to see the vintage lighthouse was not restored for tourism, he said, and remains without running water or electricity. Boy Scouts and other youth groups return to the isolated island for service projects and there's also an annual workshop staged for maritime heritage educators. The island is in Lake Michigan, just offshore from Gros Cap, west of St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula's Mackinac County. However, the lighthouse can easily be seen from Mackinaw City on clear days. Both federal and state tax deductions are available for donations made to the St. Helena Island Lighthouse Endowment Fund. Call (231) 436-5580 for more information.

From the Traverse City Record Eagle


Port Report - February 16

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The navigation season opened at Toronto Wednesday, with the departure of the Stephen B. Roman early in the morning.

The Port Authority began hauling construction trailers to the island airport today using the derrick barge T.H.C. 50 and tug William Rest. Construction of the new ferry terminals should begin shortly. The tug Radium Yellowknife came into port from the Humber Bay breakwall project and tied up at Pier 27.

Late Tuesday evening the McKeil tugs turned Canadian Ranger around in the Redpath slip. Unloading of the Ranger's sugar cargo continued today.


Inside Boatnerd

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 page, or send the information to

Boatnerd Gatherings Scheduled
Another Boatnerd Cruise on the St. Clair River has been added to the schedule for July 15 aboard the Hammond Bay. Check the Gatherings Page for a complete list. Other events will be posted as they are added.

Boatnerd Trip Raffles
Two new chances to win a trip on a Great Lakes freighter have been added recently to the Raffle Page. Check the trip page for all the available chances.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 16

The EDWIN H GOTT sailed on her maiden voyage February 16, 1979, in ballast from Milwaukee, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota. This was the first maiden voyage of a laker ever in mid-winter. She was in convoy with three of her fleet mates; CASON J CALLAWAY, PHILIP R CLARKE and JOHN G MUNSON, each needing assistance from the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW to break through heavy ice 12 to 14 inches thick the length of Lake Superior. The GOTT took part in a test project, primarily by U.S. Steel, to determine the feasibility of year around navigation.

The JAMES E FERRIS was launched February 16, 1910, as the ONTARIO (Hull#71) at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

On February 16, 1977, a four hour fire caused major damage to the crews' forward quarters aboard the W W HOLLOWAY while at American Ship Building's South Chicago yard.

February 16, 1939 - The state ferry CHIEF WAWATAM was fast in the ice in the Straits of Mackinac. She freed herself the next day and proceeded to St. Ignace.

The little tug JAMES ANDERSON burned on Long Lake near Alpena, Michigan on the morning of 16 February 1883. Arson was suspected.

Data from: Max Hanley, 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.


New Mackinaw Gets its Feet Wet in Lake Huron

2/15 - Cheboygan - Two short trips out into Lake Huron have helped the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw's crew to continue gradually easing its way into familiarity with new surroundings and systems for handling the ship. The training comes just in time for certification by a District Nine evaluation team from Cleveland, scheduled to arrive Tuesday.

“We're ready to proceed with certification drills and evaluation by the District,” declared Ensign Matthew Kempe, the Mackinaw's public affairs officer. “A team comes up and checks us out to see how well we get underway and how well we run drills, how good a job we do at training ourselves, really. It should take three or four days. The process will verify that we are well on our way to becoming a fully commissioned Coast Guard cutter.”

One short trip last week took the new Mac up the St. Mary's River to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., where the ship docked for the night at the Sector Sault Ste. Marie Coast Guard Base before returning the next day. The cutter did not transit the Soo Locks, which are currently closed.
“We saw some ice near Lime Island, but nothing thicker than about 12 inches,” Kempe reported. “It wasn't really anything to test our icebreaking capabilities.”

The new icebreaker also took on fuel at Rogers City, and had the experience of backing out of the fuel dock through a light ice mass. “We backed through some ice in Rogers city and that was a good learning situation for us, too,” Kempe said.

More recently, the high-tech cutter spent a few days in Northern Lake Huron, staying east of Bois Blanc Island and south of DeTour Passage. While there, the vessel confined itself to an 18-mile long navigational box to make turns, test systems and conning officer training well out of the shipping lanes in deep water. “We learned a whole lot,” Kempe confirmed. “It was a success in every sense. We got a lot of training done and met all our objectives for training.”

Kempe said the Mackinaw's crew performed training drills for damage control, navigational training, man overboard situations and conning officer training, all done to help them feel more comfortable with the equipment. “We did engineering casualty drills for the guys in the engine room, too,” he added, “just to be ready if something breaks. What happens if the power management system goes down and you have to do it by hand? Well, now we can do it.”

Kempe said the environment was perfect for concentrating on training. “We had no deadlines for port calls or anything like that,” he continued. “We all feel better about our ability to respond with the ship.”

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Port Report - February 15

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Work began Tuesday morning unloading the sugar storage cargo from Canadian Ranger. This is the first of four winter storage cargoes which will be unloaded one per week. McKeil's harbor tugs Progress and Vigilant 1 will be shifting the vessels in and out of the Redpath slip.

Work continues on the new Humber Bay breakwall project, just to the west of Ontario Place. The mild winter weather has allowed to project to move ahead faster than anticipated.

McKeil tugs turned Canadian Ranger late Tuesday to facilitate unloading the stern hatches. No ice in the harbor, but buildups along the shores. Police patrol boats, the fire tug Wm. Lyon Mackenzie, and the Island Yacht Club tender are still running, along with the Island airport ferry Maple City and the Island ferry Ongiara.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The G.L. Ostrander/barge Integrity has returned to service after a brief lay-up in Milwaukee. The Integrity was seen making its way to Alpena late Tuesday night among snow showers, with its spotlights on. Another vessel, possibly a tug was observed out in the bay at the same time making sure the Integrity had no problems with ice and getting into port. The Ostrander got into Lafarge sometime after midnight on Tuesday.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 15

In 1961, the HARRY R JONES, a.) D G KERR arrived at her final port of Troon, Scotland where she was cut up for scrap the same year.

Data from: 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.


Lake County Ohio Leaders Trying To Save Historic Lighthouse
61-Year-Old Structure Listed In National Register Of Historic Places

2/14 - An ad hoc assembly of Lake County agencies and organizations is looking to find someone to carry the torch in saving the historic Fairport West Breakwater Coast Guard lighthouse on Lake Erie. The 61-year-old structure is about midway along the federal government's breakwater at the mouth of the Grand River just east of Headlands Beach State Park in Painesville Township.

The group is working against the clock. It has until March 6 to apply to the federal government after having already exhausted two 60-day extensions. The two-story structure is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, which maintains a navigational foghorn and light system on the building. However, the federal government wants to divest itself of the structure, keeping only the duties of maintaining the light and horn. So Uncle Sam is hunting for an entity to take over the building. The government's only stipulation is that whoever acquires the building must keep the structure's historic significance intact.

The loose-knit local group includes officials representing the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Lake Metroparks, Lake County Historical Society and Lake County Planning Commission. They have been meeting regularly to construct a group to assume ownership of the lighthouse. "We're trying to be the facilitator to make this happen," Rick Stenger, Lake Metro parks' community relations director, said of his agency's role in the group.

Built in 1925, the lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse has become something of a Lake County icon, notes Kathie Purmal, the historical society's executive director. "But it's more than just a tourism symbol," Purmal said. "It's also been a portal to Lake County and Lake Erie. It's our front door."

Spearheading the organizing group is Brian Fowler, Lake Metroparks' recreation department head. Fowler has taken the lead in contacting people and trying to find a workable mechanism to acquire, fix up and manage the lighthouse. He noted that the federal government is working to shake loose its lighthouse holdings throughout the Great Lakes. Many communities have taken up the cause, acquiring their respective surplus lighthouses, sprucing them up and using them for educational and tourism-driven purposes, Fowler said.

Efforts in Lorain and Ashtabula are "ahead of the curve" in achieving this goal, Fowler said. A group preserving a lighthouse on Lake Huron spent $1 million on the job, Fowler said. Even so, such an expense would prove worthwhile for the Grand River lighthouse, he said. "Every time I walk in there, climb the steps and look out at the lake, I say, 'Oh, my gosh, this is the best place on the lake,' " Fowler said .

As Lake Metroparks envisions a finished lighthouse, tours could be arranged with access by way of a ferry from Fairport Harbor Village, Fowler said. This is preferable to having people clamber over the huge slabs of mined rock that make up the breakwater, which can be treacherous to walk upon, Fowler said. "A bigger vision would be to create a boardwalk to the lighthouse, and maybe even make it a terminal point in our Greenway Corridor bike trail," said Fowler.

First up, the ad hoc body says, is to seek another extension. Dino DiSanto, district director for U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Concord Township, said the congressman will try to work with U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine and George V. Voinovich, both R-Ohio, in seeking a six-month to one-year extension.

Such an extension would buy time for the creation of a lighthouse-managing entity, the organizing group said. "I believe we need to tell the government that we're working hard together to explore how to take it over and rehabilitate it at some point," DiSanto said. Fowler noted that by law, Lake Metroparks cannot own the site and then deed it over to another entity.

As one of the initial steps in the process, Lake County commissioners could take over temporary ownership of the property. Lake Metroparks approached the commissioners this week about the subject. But more information about the specifics and legal responsibilities is needed before commissioners would decide whether to assume temporary ownership, said Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy. "It's a landmark, and it has some aesthetic value being there," Troy said. "My position would be, if there is no liability or maintenance cost, we'll hold it for a short term until maybe turning it over."

Troy also wondered what the alternative would be if no one takes over ownership of the property. Fowler said the property could be sold at auction, in which case it could go to a developer, who could operate a commercial business on the site. The property was already almost sold to a Florida developer. But he backed away when he heard Lake Metroparks and other Lake County organizations want to save the lighthouse, Fowler said. "We can't sit back and wait for the lighthouse to crumble into the ground," Fowler said.

Individuals or groups interested in the lighthouse acquisition and preservation can contact Fowler at or Purmal at

From the Lake County News-Herald


Detroit Historical Society Appeal for Donations

2/14 - For more than 75 years, the Detroit Historical Society and the City of Detroit have worked together to preserve the vibrant history of Southeastern Michigan for future generations. With recent City budget cuts, the Society has been asked to assume greater responsibility for the funding and operations of the three Detroit Historical Museums and we need the help of the entire community to make that possible!

We need your help today to ensure that three cultural treasures – the Detroit Historical Museum, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and Historic Fort Wayne – remain open to the public.

Note that all gifts made before June 30, 2006 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Masco Corporation Foundation.

Please visit the following link for more information, to make an online donation, print a donation form, or become a member of the Detroit Historical Society:


ISMA represented at Memorial Service for USCGC Blackthorn in Tampa, FL

2/14 - On Saturday, Capt. Mary Taylor, representing ISMA Lodge No. 7 and the Propeller Club, Port of Detroit, placed a wreath at the USCG Memorial Service for the Cutter Blackthorn. The Blackthorn sank in Tampa Bay in 1980 with the loss of 23 lives.

The Memorial site is on the North pier of the Old Tampa Bay Bridge, Tampa, Florida. The wreath was laid on behalf of the Propeller Club, Port of Detroit and Detroit Lodge #7, International Shipmasters Association. The wreath was in memory of all Great Lakes Mariners. Capt. Taylor was joined by Capt. Tom Allor. Capt. Mel Riecher and Capt. Mike Mastenbrook.

Admiral Mike Collins (USCG) gave a stirring talk on the value of the Coast Guard. There was a flyover by a Jayhawk chopper and a C130 as the Service started. A USCG band provided music for the ceremony.


Port Report - February 14

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell returned from a trip to Detroit early Monday evening. With a strong SSW wind blowing, she entered the inner harbour to make the turn. It is expected that this will be a salt run to Chicago, before returning to do a couple of more trips to the Detroit area. She should be departing sometime Tuesday morning.


Updates - February 14

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Historical Perspective page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 14

The MESABI MINER (Hull#906) was launched on this day in 1977, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. becoming the fourth thousand foot bulk carrier on the Great Lakes and Interlake's second. She had been built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $45.1 million.

Ford Motor Co., looking to expand its fleet, purchased the JOSEPH S WOOD, a.) RICHARD M MARSHALL on February 14, 1966, for $4.3 million and renamed c.) JOHN DYKSTRA. In 1983, she was renamed d.) BENSON FORD. Renamed e.) US.265808, in 1985, she was scrapped at Recife, Brazil in 1987.

On February 14, 1973, the LEADALE's forward cabins burned during winter lay-up at Hamilton, Ontario and were later repaired.

Data from: 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.


Oglebay Norton To Sell the Reserve for $4 Million

2/13 - Oglebay Norton Marine Services Company LLC., announced Monday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the Reserve to K&K Warehousing, Inc. for $4 million. The transaction is scheduled to close at the end of the month. Proceeds from the sale will be used to retire debt.

The Company continues to negotiate the terms of sale for the balance of its Great Lakes fleet.

Source - Oglebay Norton Company


Buffalo Seeking Additional Fireboat

2/12 - City of Buffalo Fire Commissioner Mike Lombardo announced a plan to pursue grants towards the purchase of a new, smaller fireboat to compliment the Firetug Edward M. Cotter. He stated the need to access boat marinas where the Cotter cannot reach due to her deep draft.

The Cotter's water cannons are designed to fight large scale industrial fires and may put out too much volume to effectively fight a small boat fire. Initial cost estimates for a new firefighting watercraft range between a quarter and half a million dollars. The Cotter would more than likely be retained for any large scale emergencies and also to break ice in the winter time.

Built in 1899, she is currently the oldest operational fireboat in the world and the only fireboat to cross an international boundary to fight a fire.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski


Port Reports - February 13

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell returned Saturday evening, backing into the Sifto Salt dock, with moderate ice conditions in the channel. She was assisted into port by the MacDonald Marine tugs on a cold moonlit evening sky, with no wind. Having returned from Milwaukee, she was on the dock at 7:30 pm and should be leaving for the Detroit area early Sunday morning.

Port Colborne - Charlie from Buffalo
The John D. Leitch is showing bow damage.

The Canadian Progress has smoke up, as of Saturday,  with all lines on the dock and workers still working on the deck/hall area.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Joseph L. Block arrived Bay Shipbuilding for winter lay up Sunday. She went to the wall adjacent to the West Side City Dock. Selvick Marine tugs assisted and rafted the Edward L. Ryerson to her outboard side.


Updates - February 13

News Photo Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery Historical Perspective page

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 13

The POINTE NOIRE was launched February 13, 1926, as a.) SAMUEL MATHER (Hull#792) at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

February 13, 1897 - The PERE MARQUETTE (later named PERE MARQUETTE 15) arrived in Ludington on her maiden voyage. Captain Joseph "Joe" Russell in command.

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.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 12

RED WING was launched February 12, 1944, as a.) BOUNDBROOK (Hull#335) at Chester, Pennsylvania by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., a T2-SE-A1 Ocean Tanker. She was renamed b.) IMPERIAL EDMONTON in 1947. In 1959, she was brought to Port Weller Drydocks for conversion to a bulk freighter for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., renamed c.) RED WING. Scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1987.

Data from: 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.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 11

On 11 February 1994, the tug MARY E HANNAH and an empty fuel barge became trapped in the ice in the Pelee Passage on Lake Erie. The vessels were freed by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter NEAH BAY and the Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker SAMUEL RISLEY.

The E B BARBER (Hull#111) was launched in 1953, at Port Arthur, Ontario by Port Arthur Ship Building Co. Ltd.

The NIXON BERRY was sold to Marine Salvage for scrap on in 1970, she was the former MERTON E FARR.

BEN W CALVIN (Hull#388) was launched in 1911, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

The keel was laid for the ROY A JODREY (Hull#186) on February 11, 1965, at Collingwood, Ontario by Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd.

The tanker IMPERIAL CORNWALL was retired on February 11, 1971.Albert Edgar Goodrich, the founder of the Goodrich Steamboat Line, was born in Hamburg, New York, near Buffalo on 11 February 1826.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, 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


Neebish Island Ferry Runs Well Past Normal Season

2/10 - Again running well past its nominal lay up time in January, the Neebish Island Ferry may well be in another full year of operation if the weatherman does not cooperate. Normally scheduled to run from late March to mid-January, the ferry has continued to keep a reduced winter schedule nearly a month after the last commercial ship cleared the West Neebish.

Chuck Moser, director of the EUP Transportation Authority, said the Neebish ferry Neebish Islander II continues to make six crossings daily on weekdays and four on weekends as ice formation on the channel has come slowly. “I don't think we have much choice but to run it until there's an ice bridge,” Moser said on Tuesday. He said the ferry will continue to run, despite growing losses, until solid ice in the channel allows crossings by snowmobile.

As of Tuesday, little or no ice covered the channel separating Neebish Island from Barbeau though a week of sharply colder winter weather may change that situation in time. Full ice coverage was reported at Sawmill Point, south of the Neebish Rock Cut, on Monday but that ice was not considered strong enough to support over-ice travel. Upstream, at the normal snowmobile crossing point off Barbeau, a wide expanse of open water extended to the northern horizon. After two nights of good ice-making weather, a thin skim may be forming, but Moser warned that thin ice does not make for a safe over-ice passage.

Operators of the Neebish ferry continue to operate the vessel under an extender clause written into their contract with EUPTA, which subsidizes the Neebish ferry. Though several freeze-thaw cycles normally precede a solid freeze in most winters, Moser said the Neebish Islander II has not encountered ice troubles so far this year. Water temperature in the Neebish Rock Cut suggested the current cold snap has a way to go before significant ice can be expected in the W. Neebish Channel. As of 8:00 a.m. Thursday, water temperature at Rock Cut gauges read 38.1 degrees, six degrees higher than 32-degree freezing point.

Coming after a solid freeze in January last year, this year's protracted thaw appears to fit an alternating-year thaw pattern that has held over the last seven or eight winters. Warm winter weather this January approached an all-time record in nearby Sault Ste. Marie, where the month was the second-warmest on record there.

Two years ago - for the first time in more than a century - Arnold Transit ferries ran through the winter from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island as solid ice did not form over the deep passage all winter long. This year, Arnold laid up its passenger ferries shortly after the start of the new year but not because the ice forced them to the wall. With only “skim ice” covering Moran Bay by early February, Arnold's ferries were laid up because skyrocketing diesel fuel prices made continued passenger service uneconomical.

Light winter passenger traffic and high fuel costs convinced Arnold Transit officials to call an end to regular ferry service even though little or no ice covered the short hop to the nearby island. Normally an “ice-to-ice” ferry operation, Arnold Transit opted to pull the plug on ferry service to avoid winter losses. Arnold's ice-worthy freight ferry, the former Drummond Islander, continues to make periodic runs to Mackinac to move goods back and forth across still-liquid stretches of Moran Bay and the passage to Mackinac.

Like other public officials, Moser at EUPTA refused to describe or predict when “safe ice” may appear between Neebish Island and the mainland. In a normal winter, EUPTA relies on a small group of experienced island ice observers to declare when the West Neebish ice can carry snow machines and ATVs commuters use in the cold weather months. Required to operate despite running ferry losses, Moser acknowledged the Neebish Islander II may not shut down at all before March brings the return of shipping.

From the Soo Evening News


Gates at Iroquois Dam 'Dipped' to Lower Level of Lake St. Lawrence

2/10 - Ontario Power Generation employed an operation at the Iroquois dam Tuesday more typical in spring than in winter. The water control gates at the dam were "dipped" Tuesday, Ontario Power Generation reported, to help relieve and prevent higher water levels on Lake St. Lawrence. "We're at the high elevation now," said Mike Boutilier, operations manager of the R.H. Saunders Generating Station west of Cornwall.

Strong southwest winds Sunday and Monday this week drove water levels, on bodies of water commonly covered with ice this time of year, higher than normal. "We did get a few calls," said Boutilier of water levels on Lake St. Lawrence, the body of water around the Saunders generating station, about 50 kilometres east of the Iroquois dam.

Atypical weather for the month of January and early February has contributed to slightly higher water levels, from rain and spring-like runoff, in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Water levels are more noticeable this year because of a lack of ice and weather will be a factor in how long the gates at the dam are dipped, Boutilier said. "The gates may be down for a week or a few days," he said. "There are many variables."

The gates will be raised again when conditions permit and recreational boaters and anglers, like a few who were out on the river last week during a few days of warm weather, should take notice. The higher than normal levels on Lake St. Lawrence were not the only unusual occurrence on the St. Lawrence River the past six weeks.

Brockville's Fred Gilbert was one of those people out on the water last week and he couldn't get over the fact there was no ice off the docks at Gilbert's Marine."This is more like the end of summer water levels," Gilbert said Tuesday. "I think we had half the spring runoff in January." Gilbert said he cannot remember ever seeing the river, at this time of year, with such a lack of ice.

Even when the main channel of the river remained open a few years ago, Gilbert said there was 300 or 400 feet of ice out from the shoreline. "It's never been this open to the shoreline in my memory," he said.

From the Brockville Recorder & Times


Lighthouse in Milwaukee's Olmsted-designed Park Emerging as Museum

2/10 - Milwaukee - More than a century ago, an accident of history put Milwaukee's North Point Lighthouse in the middle of a crown jewel of the city's park system. The lighthouse that warned sailors of the Lake Michigan shore became surrounded by something new - an elegant public park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of landscape architecture and designer of New York City's Central Park, among scores of parks he mapped out across the nation. "We think it's the only lighthouse that's in a Frederick Law Olmsted urban park," said Cindy Rewolinski, executive director of the North Point Lighthouse Friends Inc. "We think we have a special story to tell at the North Point Lighthouse."

Olmsted couldn't touch the two-acre federal lighthouse site that divided the park, so he made it a centerpiece by putting elaborate stone bridges with lion statues across adjacent ravines, connecting to a walkway past the lighthouse. "What he did is he created one of the most beautiful focal points in the park, the lion bridges," Rewolinski said. "It's gorgeous, and it's a treasure for people here." That was in the 1890s, but walkers, joggers and bicycle riders still pass the lighthouse that hasn't been used as a navigational aid since 1994. Now it's emerging from years of neglect into a glistening restored structure to serve as a museum and meeting place.

In recent months, the lighthouse had its cast iron and steel sandblasted clean of old paint and repainted, inside and out. Many of the original brass parts are being restored and put back in place. It's actually two structures in one. The cast iron section at the top was built in 1888 and stood 39 feet tall, replacing an 1855 lighthouse that was 100 feet to the east until erosion threatened to topple it. By 1909, the growth of surrounding trees obscured the lighthouse, so the government built a new steel base and put the existing lighthouse on top, raising it to 74 feet.

"We have a couple of versions of how it was taken apart and put on the new base," said John Scripp, a local lawyer and board president of North Point Lighthouse Friends. "One version is that it was done with a crane, intact. Another version is that it was taken apart in pieces and reassembled." Either way, it was a monumental task. While the lighthouse looks like an airy, graceful structure from the outside, the inside view reveals that the bottom section is built of steel girders like those of a bridge; the top features rows of heavy-duty bolts holding the cast iron pieces in rock-solid position. A two-story keepers' quarters built in 1888 and later converted into a duplex is also due for restoration this year to house the museum, offices and conference rooms.

Scripp said the goal is to re-create the site to its condition in 1915, complete with a frame passageway such as the one that once linked the lighthouse and the building. "That was long gone when we were there," said Ed Werner, 77, a retired Coast Guard lieutenant commander who lived at North Point in 1945 and 1946 when his father spent Coast Guard duty as a keeper. Werner, now the historian at the restored Southport Lighthouse about 40 miles to the south in Kenosha, said living in Lake Park was great, especially compared with the life of keepers stationed at remote spots.

But years later, the disrepair of the North Point site was a growing concern for area residents involved in neighborhood and park preservation, Scripp said. "It was languishing and there was speculation as to what would happen to it," he said. The concern led to the proposal for restoring the site and creation of the North Point Lighthouse Friends. In 2003, the property was transferred from the federal government to Milwaukee County to be operated by the Friends "for public and park purposes."

The project won a U.S. Department of Transportation enhancement grant for $1.23 million, although that included $246,000 in matching funds the group had to raise, Rewolinski said. Now the goal is to open in September, and the approach will be low-key, with small tours scheduled in advance and nominal admission fees, she said. The lighthouse is already drawing interest as a destination for lighthouse tours, and it's a likely draw for fans of Olmsted and maritime history.

"The wonderful thing about this lighthouse is it's in an urban area, so it's accessible for people to see it," Rewolinski said. "You don't have to get in a boat to go see it." Werner said lighthouses have a special mystique to go with their significance in history. "There's something about lighthouses. When you look at it, it just conjures up images of the sea," he said.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - February 10

Soo Canada - Howie Wilcox
Algosar was at the Purvis Marine dock unloading petroleum products on Thursday.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Joseph L. Block's arrival in Escanaba Thursday is the last ship expected there for a few weeks. They expect to begin shipping again in early March.

Toledo -
Sarah Spencer is in the dock and on the blocks at Toledo Shipyard. Her articulated tug Jane Ann IV is moored in the Maumee River near the dry docks.


Updates - February 10

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 10

UHLMANN BROTHERS was launched February 10, 1906, as a.) LOFTUS CUDDY (Hull#341) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

The MARKHAM (Twin Screw Hopper Suction Dredge) was delivered February 10, 1960, to the Army Corps of Engineers at Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1998, the Ludington Daily News reported that a private investment group (later identified as Hydrolink) was planning to start cross-lake ferry service from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee running two high-speed ferries.

On 10 February 1890, NYANZA (wooden propeller freighter, 280 foot, 1,888 gross tons) was launched at F. W. Wheeler's yard (Hull #63) in W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. In 1916, she was renamed LANDBO and she lasted until abandoned in 1920.

In 1975, a fire onboard the CRISPIN OGLEBAY a.) J H HILLMAN JR of 1943, caused $100,000 damage to the conveyor and tunnel while she was laid-up at Toledo. The forward end of CRISPIN OGLEBAY now sails as the CANADIAN TRANSFER (C.323003).

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, 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.


Manitowoc Awarded Contract for Two Hot Oil Tank Barges

2/9 - The Manitowoc Company announced Monday that Moran Towing Corporation has awarded Manitowoc Marine Group a follow-on contract for construction of two ocean- class, double-hull, hot oil tank barges. The vessels, which will be built by its Bay Shipbuilding Co. (BSC) subsidiary, are identical to a pair of tank barges that BSC constructed and delivered to Moran in 2004 and 2005.

Measuring 425 feet in length by 78 feet in width, Moran's newest tank barges will be configured with ten cargo compartments that provide a 100% cubic capacity of 118,836 barrels of petroleum products. The barges will also feature an onboard heating system to maintain consistent cargo temperatures of 135 degrees F. A stern notch and Intercon coupling system will link each barge to a customer-supplied tug. Vessel deliveries are expected in the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2008.

"We are extremely pleased that Moran Towing has once again chosen Manitowoc Marine Group as its yard of choice for building the next vessels in its contract towing fleet," said Bob Herre, president and general manager of Manitowoc's Marine Group. "As more vessel owners replace their single-hull tonnage to comply with the OPA-90 mandate, our yards are ideally staffed and equipped for building this class of vessel."

Manitowoc News Release


Entrepreneur Eyes Lake Ontario Ferry Service

2/9 - St. Catharines, Ont. -  A Toronto entrepreneur is hoping to launch a ferry service between Toronto and the Niagara region as early as this summer. Dale Wilson said both areas are losing millions in tourist dollars because visitors don't want to make the two-hour car trip between them. He said his proposed 25-minute water link would increase that figure dramatically.

Wilson will be sailing against the prevailing winds of history with the project. In the last 20 years, all previous attempts to run a ferry service across Lake Ontario have ended in financial grief. Earlier this month, the city of Rochester, N.Y., announced it was scuttling its high-speed service to Toronto after forking out $32 million to purchase an Australian-built catamaran from a private operator last year. Operating costs and low ridership turned the ambitious project into a $40 million failure after only 11 weeks of service last year. The city is now trying to resell the luxurious vessel.

Wilson said he believes that project's demise has opened a wider window of opportunity for his planned service to St. Catharines or Niagara-on-the-Lake. "We're centre stage now. There's light at the end of the tunnel." He said the Rochester ferry was doomed to fail because the massive boat — which could accommodate 775 passengers and 225 cars — was too costly to keep afloat.

By contrast, his 33-metre craft would have a seating capacity of only 155, with no cars, and would whip passengers across the lake in 20 to 35 minutes, up to three times a day. The trip would cost $12 to $15. Wilson estimated it will cost about $10 million to put his boat in Lake Ontario and said he has raised about 70 per cent of the funds from private investors so far. He said he is currently negotiating for landing sites.

From the Toronto Globe and Mail


Updates - February 9

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated

Boatnerd Gathering page update.

Win a freighter trip page updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 09

EAGLESCLIFFE, loaded with 3,500 tons of grain, sank two miles east of Galveston, Texas on February 9, 1983, after the hull had fractured from a grounding the previous day. She began taking on water in her forward end en route to Galveston. To save her the captain ran her into shallow water where she settled on the bottom in 20 feet of water with her bridge and boat deck above water. All 16 crewmembers and one dog were rescued.

The ALEXANDER LESLIE was launched February 9, 1901, as a.) J T HUTCHINSON (Hull#405) at Cleveland, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

The HOMER D WILLIAMS suffered extensive fire damage to her side plating and forward lower cabins during her lay-up at Toledo, Ohio on February 9, 1971. The fire was started by a spark from welding that caused the tarpaulins stored in the hold to catch fire.

February 9, 1995 - The founder of Lake Michigan Carferry, Charles Conrad, died at the age of 77.

In 1899, JOHN V MORAN (wooden propeller package freighter, 214 foot, 1,350 gross tons, built in 1888, at W. Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler & Co. (Hull#44) was cut by the ice and developed a severe leak during a mid-winter run on Lake Michigan. The iron passenger/package freight steamer NAOMI rescued the crew from the sinking vessel. The MORAN was last seen on the afternoon of 12 February 1899, drifting with the ice about 20 miles off Muskegon, Michigan. She was a combination bulk and package freighter with hatches in her flanks as well as on her deck.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, 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.


Navy Boat Falls into Roadway

2/8 - Buffalo - A former Coast Guard boat fell off its trailer today in Buffalo while en route to Panama City, Fla.

The Coast Guard turned over the 21-foot rigid hull inflatable boat to the U.S. Navy today, along with two out-board engines and a trailer. While leaving Buffalo, the 21-foot boat fell off its trailer and onto the roadway. No one was injured.

The boat was on its way to Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, Fla. The boat was transferred to the U.S. Navy as excess government property.

USCG News Release


Mackinaw Heads Out in Search of Ice

2/8 - Cheboygan - The return of winter weather to the Straits of Mackinac, however short it may be, will allow the original U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw to head to sea today for some much-needed training.

The giant icebreaker's crew has been eagerly waiting the chance to actually break some ice - a non-existent commodity on the big lakes this winter. “We didn't see any last week when we were out,” stated Ensign Beth Newton, the Mackinaw's public affairs officer. “Up in the St. Mary's River there was some build-up around Lime Island all the way up to Mud Lake, but other than that it was pretty well open water. There was nothing to break up.”

Several new officers in training are undergoing testing and training as new officers of the deck. Newton is one of them, along with Ensign Jiah Barnett, Bosun's Mate 1st Class Michael Hiatt and Bosun's Mate 1st Class Eric Koch. “We're all looking forward to the experience,” Newton admitted. “I'm really excited about actually driving the ship. It's going to be fun.”

All four have had plenty of experience on the ship's bridge, assisting with navigation duties and familiarizing themselves with commands for the engine room and for steering. “This time out it will be our turn to do this while in some ice, if we can find some,” Newton said hopefully. “It's amazing when the whole ship responds to your commands. I like the feeling of responsibility, the control that you have when everything responds properly.”

Newton said that driving the 290-foot long Mackinaw through ice fields is an art, one that prepares a track for vessels much larger to follow through. “We are looking for the straightest possible route through the ice, and we groom turns a little wide so that the 1,000-foot ships can make those turns too,” she explained. “They will follow us so we have to keep their needs in mind.”

Newton said the ultimate test may be running the ship in reverse. “When we back up, it's just you and ‘rudder amidships' to get us there - it's quite a thrill.”

The Mackinaw may assist vessels en route with escort duty and has already heard from one ship which may need help, the Algostar. The trip is not expected to be a long one and the Mac could return in a few days.

From the Cheboygan Tribune


ISMA Grand Lodge Elects New Officers

2/8 - The International Ship Masters’ Association (ISMA) has just completed its 116th annual Grand Lodge Convention hosted by ISMA Chicago Lodge #3 at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in downtown Chicago, IL. Mariners from the US and Canada who operate on waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway met from February 1–4 to discuss items of mutual concern and conduct organizational business.

The event incorporated Lodge #3’s annual Industry Day on Friday, February 3, featuring speakers and panelists from the US Coast Guard, the National Weather Service, the US Maritime Administration, and various emergency agencies involved in incident response.

Newly-elected ISMA Grand Lodge officers were installed at a ceremony on Friday evening. They are: Captain Ronald L. Brezinski, Grand President; Captain Russell D. Brohl, Grand 1st Vice President; Captain Robert Haller, Grand 2nd Vice President; Captain George R. Skuggen, Grand Secretary-Treasurer.

Other officers include: Fr. James P. Keating,  Grand Chaplain; Amy Seeley, Grand Marshal; Christine Rohn Tielke, Grand Warden

ISMA news release


Photo Gallery Updates - February 8

News Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated

Boatnerd Gathering page update.

Win a freighter trip page updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 08

While in lay-up on February 8, 1984, a fire broke out in the WILLIAM G MATHER's after accommodations killing a vagrant from Salt Lake City, Utah who had started the fire that caused considerable damage to the galley.

On 8 February 1902, ETRURIA (steel propeller freighter, 414 foot, 4,653 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. (Hull#604). She was built for the Hawgood Transit Company of Cleveland but only lasted three years. She sank in 1905, after colliding with the steamer AMASA STONE in the fog off Presque Isle Light in Lake Huron.

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.


Boatnerd Gathering Schedule Coming Together

We are busy preparing arrangements for the 2006 series of Boatnerd Gatherings. Three events have the dates established.

Click the "2006 Boatnerd Gatherings" icon on the Boatnerd home page. Mark your calendars. Check back regularly as further details are posted. Note that some events require advance reservations. Don't be left out.


New Freighter Trip Raffles

Two new chances to win a trip on a Great Lakes freighter through raffles have been posted on the Trips page.

Click the "Win a Trip on a Great Lakes Freighter" icon on the Boatnerd home page.


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

New events are being added almost daily. Check back on a regular basis.


Port Report - February 7

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell returned Tuesday morning after waiting out the high winds for two days in the St. Clair river. She entered the inner harbour to make the turn with a strong WNW wind blowing. After loading at the Sifto Salt dock, where she was tied up at 9:30 am, she will be proceeding to a Lake Michigan port.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 07

The HURON (Hull#132) was launched February 7, 1914, at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

In 1973, the ENDERS M. VOORHEES closed the Soo Locks down bound.

In 1974, the ROGER BLOUGH closed the Poe Lock after locking down bound for Gary, Indiana.

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.


Great Lakes water levels sink with mild winter
Lake St. Clair water evaporating without usual ice covering

2/6 - Despite a mild winter and a lack of ice on Lake St. Clair, Jim Krause is optimistic about the 2006 boating season. "I have lived here my whole life and have never experienced weather like this before," said Krause of Belle Maer Harbor in Harrison Township. "I can remember as a kid we'd be skating on Thanksgiving and skate until March. Even the interior canals hardly have any ice this year." Krause said water levels at Belle Maer -- home to 850 boat slips and 110 dry dock slips -- are "about the same as last year."

"When you get mild temperatures it creates a lot of evaporation," Krause, 68, said. "But I'm not looking for a drastic water level reduction this summer. Based on water levels last year we're going to end up about the same. It's going to be a good year. Maybe we'll get a nice summer like last year with a lot more rain."

Tim Calappi, a hydraulic engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office in Detroit, said a lack of ice cover on Lake St. Clair this winter has "increased evaporation rates." "You get a little more evaporation when there's no ice," Calappi said. "Lake St. Clair is a little different than the big Great Lakes. The bigger lakes' peak evaporation is in the fall, but with Lake St. Clair it's much smaller and it tends to evaporate a little bit more." Through Friday, water levels on Lake St. Clair were 8 inches lower compared with this time last year.

"It looks to be a little lower than this time last year," Calappi agreed. "But levels are pretty close to average for February." Calappi, however, noted that low water levels this winter could be even lower by early spring and summer. "We will be below average this year as we get closer to summer," he said. Calappi said Lake St. Clair water levels will be about 8 inches below the average this summer.

By comparison, last summer Lake St. Clair was 5 inches below average. "That's another 3 more inches below average this year," Calappi said. "Lake Huron didn't get its seasonal rise last year, which will hurt Lake St. Clair levels." Overall, the Great Lakes are 2 to 12 inches below the levels of a year ago. "The water is not as low as it's ever been -- we're not down a foot down here on Lake St. Clair," Krause noted. "We're right where we were last year. Then again we had a lot of rain the last 10 days. But who knows. I don't believe in time frames for weather cycles."

Lake Superior is expected to fall 2 inches over the next month, while Lake Michigan and Lake Huron should decline 1 inch over the next 30 days, according to a weekly report submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office in Detroit. Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario are all expected to remain steady over the next 30 days, the report said, while levels over the next few months on all the Great Lakes are expected to remain lower than 2005 levels.

Calappi said so much depends on weather conditions, and pointed out that a strong Alberta clipper that swept across the Great Lakes basin last week led to snow showers and chilly temperatures. And though some moderate ice growth was seen on the lakes last, overall the Great Lakes are mostly ice-free.

From the Macomb Daily


Full-Steam Ahead
McKeil Marine sees unprecedented growth as business turns to our waterways to move cargo

2/6 -Growing highway congestion, back-ups at the border, maxed out railway lines and smoggy air are simply business opportunities for Hamilton's McKeil Marine.

The 50-year-old company has already jumped ship from its traditional focus on port, berthing, salvage and tug services into the growing demand for Great Lakes transportation. Running a deck barge from the St. Lawrence Seaway across the Great Lakes to Canadian and U.S. ports can take up to 300 transport trucks off the road. What a barge lacks in terms of speed it makes up for in moving large volumes, said Blair McKeil, president of the Hillyard Street company, who took over from his father about 13 years ago.

Plus, there is never a traffic jam on the lakes. It's estimated border delays cost the North American economy $13.6 billion each year. And tonne for tonne, a single litre of fuel in a barge can move one tonne of cargo 230 kilometres. That drops to less than 100 kilometres by rail and less than 30 kilometres by truck.

Mariners like McKeil say the water is the obvious answer to many economic and environmental problems today. "Our waterways are our natural highways. Let's use them. People who never looked at it before are looking at it today. It's a new way to move things that's creating efficiencies. There is still a truck or rail car waiting at the end but this is intermodal." McKeil has operated the largest tug and barge fleet on the Great Lakes for years, but expects the next five years to bring unprecedented growth. "We're creating a niche in the transportation sector in large volumes. A barge can carry between 8,000 and 12,000 tonnes in one movement. Everything arrives at once and everything clears customs at once."

McKeil barges mostly carry commodities such as steel rolls or slabs, aluminum ingots for the automotive industry, steel byproducts, slag, wooden chips or pulp. It's typically loaded on in a Great Lakes port and then shipped to Quebec City where it's off-loaded onto mammoth 60,000-tonne ships that cross the ocean. The barges can also be used for oversized loads too big for road or rail, such as parts for power plants, or for hazardous cargo. McKeil added two deck barges to its fleet last year which transport trucks can drive on, unload its trailer and then drive off. Cargo can also be loaded with forklifts or cranes at the port. The plan is to add a new deck barge to the fleet each year for the next five years to meet growing trade with booming economies such as China and India.

McKeil is part owner of Heddle Marine, next door to its Hillyard Street yard. He and Rick Heddle, friends since childhood, began the operation 15 years ago to repair McKeil's boats. Now, three floating dry docks and 120 employees later, they are building and repairing boats for a long list of customers. The partners also converted two liquid barges into integrated tug-barges for McKeil's fleet last year. The tug locks into the rear of the barge -- up to 500 feet in length. It's pushing instead of pulling, which is more efficient, faster and much less likely to suffer downtime in bad weather. They are also a huge investment at about $10 million each, but McKeil says the company needs to add one each year to its fleet through 2011.

McKeil barges run up and down the East Coast and to Great Lakes ports in Baltimore, Toledo, Chicago, New York Toronto, Oshawa, Quebec City and Montreal. The company's Quebec operation is managed out of offices in Montreal. McKeil is anticipating 10 per cent to 15 per cent growth for the next five years, coming off the company's best year ever in 2005. It didn't start out that way when McKeil lost one of its biggest customers to receivership. "We had to hustle to find new customers. We had to fight, everyone had to work really hard. Everyone got into the boat and rowed in the same direction."

It used to be that McKeil Marine rowed that boat much closer to home. When the company was founded by Maritimer Evans McKeil in 1956, it operated tugs, pulling the ships into the steel mills in Hamilton Harbour. There was also money to be made in dredging harbours, salvaging ships, spill cleanup and building and repairing bridges and docks. "When my father started, that was everything. We've had to completely reinvent ourselves in the last three to four years."

When the federal government handed over responsibility for ports to local port authorities, much of the infrastructure work disappeared, says McKeil. That meant a wholesale change in the way the company thinks of itself. "No matter how long you've been around, you have to embrace change. There is no other way. You won't survive otherwise."

Though the company still runs about 40 tugs and port services in Hamilton, the Welland Canal, Toronto, Oshawa and Montreal, transportation is the focus now. McKeil sees a huge chance for growth in container shipping which now stops in Montreal to be off-loaded on to trucks or rail cars. "We see an opportunity as a feeder service. We could take 300 to 400 containers on barges to Toronto, Hamilton, Chicago and then take the empty containers back to Montreal. It's a natural progression for short- sea shipping." And at some point, bridges and docks and other port infrastructure will need to be upgraded and McKeil expects to get some of that business. In the meantime, the company had to forge its own path.

Evans McKeil passed away about three years ago, but McKeil Marine, winner of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce's Iron Man award in 1996, is still solidly a family operation. There are cousins and now some second-generation family members among the 200 employees. Blair McKeil's brother and sister are also in the marine business on the West Coast. "I guess it's in the blood," laughed McKeil, though he resisted it at first. As a teen, his father would send him to far-away ports or out on ships for much of the summer to keep him out of trouble. So while his friends back in Winona were "picking fruit, chasing girls and having a great time, I was stuck out in the middle of nowhere."

McKeil also remembers a Christmas when he and his brother spent the day out in the Welland Canal with their dad breaking up ice so that the tugs could get through and the workers could get home to their families. "I hated being on the boats. I found it really restrictive and confining. I got out as soon as I could." But the reprieve didn't last long. During McKeil's first year at the University of Guelph, his dad asked him to return to help out with managing the business. The elder McKeil's health was failing. By the time Blair McKeil was 26, he had taken over the reins. He fully acquired the company at 33.

"It's exciting to see where we've come from. We're about 30 times bigger than we were when I took over. I wish my father was around to see what it's become," said McKeil, as a large picture of his dad as a young man behind the wheel of ship looks down from a bookshelf. "It's the biggest gift I could give my dad, seeing his name on all these boats."
"Our biggest challenge and biggest surprise are all in one. This took place in early January 2005. One of our largest customers, which represented about 30 per cent of our overall business, suddenly and without warning went out of business. They knew they had a problem, but kept us in the dark. In addition to writing off a large receivable, we lost that volume of business. It was a brutal surprise and left us in a tough position. We had high-cost single purpose assets dedicated to their service.

"Our challenge was to quickly restructure our business and to reconfigure these assets for different trades. By the end of 2005, we managed to more than replace the business with a portfolio of large multinational customers. The equipment is now multipurpose and can service many different types of business."

Best advice to give: "If you believe in what you are doing, never give up." Secret to success: "Willingness to accept change and adapting to it quickly. And our people. There is a real can-do attitude here. This is a private, family business and it's run that way."

From the Hamilton Spectator


Minnesota Man Hopes to Complete Frozen Lake Superior Trek in '07

2/6 - Edward Shively, 48, of Isanti, Minn., says he's currently training to accomplish an unlikely feat one year from now: He wants to cross Lake Superior on foot. If ice conditions permit, Shively plans to leave Sault Ste. Marie Jan. 29, 2007, bound for Whitefish Point. From there, he aims to trace the South Shore all the way to Duluth. Shively said he'll ski, snowshoe, run and possibly even swim for short distances, pulling a floatable sled en route to his destination.

Shively said that while he'd prefer not to enter the water, he is prepared to swim short distances between rifts in the ice. Should that be necessary, he'll make use of a drysuit and flippers. He hopes to make the 420-mile journey in seven days, but he'll carry enough provisions for 21. He'll be shadowed along the way by a buddy on shore who can offer help or call for assistance if needed. Shively plans to travel by night and sleep by day. He explained that he hopes to fight the cold winter nights by staying active. Shively also pointed to another advantage of the strategy: Winds often die down after dark.

He began training for the trip in June 2004, while nursing a very tender knee. At the time he could barely run to the end of his driveway and back. Shively explained that six months earlier he underwent surgery to reconstruct his anterior cruciate ligament. Today, his training regimen involves three 15-mile snowshoe runs each week. By October, Shively said he aims to be tackling 60-mile runs three times per week.

As for his motivation, Shively said he wants to inspire young people to recognize what they, too, can accomplish. "If you set small goals and meet them, you can achieve big goals," he said, explaining that he'll attack his trek in reasonable bites, one day at a time.

From the Duluth News Tribune


New Thousand Islands and Bay of Quinte overnight cruises
aboard the Georgian Clipper

2/6 - Heritage Cruise Lines Ltd. announces that the MV Georgian Clipper is now home porting in Kingston, Ontario and starting on June 3 through October 11, 2006 she will be cruising on a five night-six day schedule in the magnificently beautiful and culturally rich Thousand Islands and Bay of Quinte region of Eastern Ontario.

The Georgian Clipper, refurbished with interior and exterior upgrades for the 2006 season, is an intimate 78 feet long cruise vessel, capable of hosting 18 guests in 9 attractive private cabins, each with a large picture window and washroom, including shower. The Clipper has an enclosed restaurant, lounge, bar and an attractive open upper observation deck, which is ideal for photography in this charming region of Canada. Heritage Cruise Lines operates with an "Open Bridge" policy and invites all guests to enjoy the atmosphere of a working ship’s wheelhouse, where they will be able to read the charts, understand how a GPS works and listen in to radio-traffic and communication along the mighty St. Lawrence River.

The five night-six day itinerary will start and end in the charming 19th century city of Kingston, Ontario, with other ports of call including Picton, Brockville, Rockport and Gananoque.

For more information please call Heritage Cruise Lines at 1-888-271-2628 or visit the website at


Former Supervisor of Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge Dies

2/6 - Don Bowen, who was one of just three living Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge supervisors, passed away in Mesa, Ariz., this week. He was 89. Bowen spent 25 years as an operator in the bridge house, including five as the boss. He was the last operator to work with the old cable system before the system was computerized in the early 1980s.

When the News Tribune interviewed the elder Bowen in September for the bridge's 100th birthday, he said he only wished he'd carried a camera all those years. "I should have been into photography. I saw some of the most beautiful sunrises with the ships coming in and everything. And sometimes a storm can be really pretty, too," said Bowen, who retired in 1982.

He was born in Duluth and grew up on the Iron Range. After a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then holding various other heavy equipment and maintenance jobs, Bowen started work on the bridge in 1957. For 25 years he replaced electrical wiring, greased cables, replaced boards and fixed everything, including plumbing and rivets. He earned a reputation for being able to work in extreme cold.

"I think what he was most proud of was their great safety record," Ralph Bowen, his son, said. "When I think about how many times they have to go up and down, it's amazing." Don Bowen was a member of community organizations and was the founder of an East Duluth Boy Scouts troop.

The two remaining living bridge supervisors are Steve Douville, who replaced Bowen and ran the bridge until he retired last year, and current supervisor Ryan Beamer, who worked on the bridge for seven years before getting the big promotion in April.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Photo Gallery Updates - February 6

News Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 06

On 06 February 1952, the LIMESTONE (steel propeller tug, 87 foot 10 inches) was launched at Bay City, Michigan by the Defoe Shipyard (Hull #423) for the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company. Later she was sold to U.S. Steel and in 1983, to Gaelic Tug Company who renamed her b.) WICKLOW. She is currently owned by the Great Lakes Towing Company and is named c.) NORTH CAROLINA.

The LORNA P, a.) CACOUNA was damaged by fire at Sorel, Quebec which was ignited by a welder's torch on February 6, 1974.

ALVA C DINKEY (Hull#365) was launched February 6, 1909, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

 The HALLFAX (Hull#526) was launched February 6, 1962, at Port Glasgow, Scotland by William Hamilton & Co. Ltd.

On February 6, 1904, the PERE MARQUETTE 19 went aground on Fox Point, Wisconsin approaching Milwaukee in fog. Engulfed in ice and fog, she quickly filled with water.

On 06 February 1885, Capt. William Bridges of Bay City and A. C. Mc Lean of East Saginaw purchased the steamer D W POWERS (wooden propeller freighter, 140 foot, 303 gross tons, built in 1871, at Marine City, Michigan) for the lumber trade. This vessel had an interesting rebuild history. In 1895, she was rebuilt as a schooner-barge in Detroit, then in 1898, she was again rebuilt as a propeller driven steamer. She lasted until 1910, when she was abandoned.

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.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 05

The ASHLAND in a critically leaking condition barely made Mamonel, Colombia on February 5, 1988, where she was scrapped.

February 5, 1870 - Captain William H. Le Fleur of the Pere Marquette carferry fleet, known as "the Bear" was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On February 5, 1976, the carferry WOLFE ISLANDER III was inaugurated into service between Kingston and Wolfe Island Ontario. The Minister of Transportation, the Honourable James Snow, headed the list of officials attending the ceremony. Speakers included Keith Norton, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, Wolfe Island Reeve Timothy D. O'Shea and Mayor George Speal of Kingston. Later that night, two blocks over, a Kingston resident noticed the captain turning off the running lights of the 'ol WOLFE ISLANDER as she joined her already winterized sister, the UPPER CANADA.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Johnson, 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.


McGuinty's Plan to Shut Coal Plants Takes a Hit
Keeping promise would put energy supply at risk, Ontario electricity manager says

2/4 - Toronto -- The Ontario government should reconsider its plan to shut down all its coal-fired power plants within the next three years, the agency that manages the province's electricity system says. The Independent Electricity System Operator said yesterday in a report that "prudence" requires that coal stations at Lambton, near Sarnia, and at Nanticoke on Lake Erie be kept in operation beyond planned shutdown dates. It said it is worried about delays in providing replacement power by the dates the government wants to close them. The IESO also repeated an earlier warning that the Greater Toronto Area faces rotating blackouts by the summer of 2008 unless power generation is added.

The government wants the four remaining coal plants closed between the end of 2007 and early 2009 and replaced with cleaner-burning fuel sources. The plants provide 6,500 megawatts of electricity or about 19 per cent of the province's power supply. The IESO report adds another voice to the chorus charging that the government's coal policy is unrealistic. Its cautionary words are particularly noteworthy because it is the provincial agency mandated to maintain electricity supplies from day to day, and also assess the short-term reliability outlook.

But the IESO says this is a "challenging and complex task" that requires not only new sources of energy but a major restructuring of the entire power system. "The move to cleaner forms of generation is not simply about replacing 6,500 MW of supply," the report warns. "Given the interdependency of the system, any significant change will affect other parts of the system." The IESO suggests that Lambton, which has a capacity of 1,975 MW, be kept open after its planned shutdown by the end of next year because the process of gaining local approval is taking longer than expected. Transmission requirements mean the 3,920-MW Nanticoke plant should be kept in operation, the report said.

The Liberals initially pledged during the 2003 election campaign to shut down all the plants by 2007. It has revised that schedule slightly, to 2009, but observers suggest the government is leery of further revisions that could be seen as breaking an election pledge. Opposition critics said the IESO report is proof that energy policy under Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty is unworkable and threatens the reliability of electricity supply. "The only way the McGuinty government can keep their so-called promise by 2009 is by running the real risk that they create on brownouts and blackouts," New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said.

The government has not done enough to create new energy supplies and transmission lines or to discourage consumption through conservation and energy efficiency to justify the pledge to shut down the plants, he said. Progressive Conservative infrastructure critic Tim Hudak charged that the Liberal energy strategy is "misguided and dangerous." He said the government should be investing in clean-coal technology.

Energy Minister Donna Cansfield was not available for comment but spokeswoman Erika Botond, said "our government has set aggressive targets and we're committed to our timeline, but we've always said we'll carry out our plan in a prudent and responsible manner." Ms. Botond said the coal plants wouldn't be closed until reliable alternative supplies were assured, but the IESO warned that they would not be there for contingency purposes without proper planning to secure coal supplies, keep up maintenance and retain adequate staff.

The plants' operator, Ontario Power Generation, reported recently that it is not buying coal beyond 2007 for Lambton and beyond 2009 for Nanticoke. Industry sources say it is also having difficulty retaining staff and planning maintenance. The carefully worded report does not actually say the government is wrong on its phase-out schedule but it uses a number of phrases that suggest this is the case. For example, it notes that several projects to provide replacement electricity "face a number of challenges" and notes that regulatory approvals for new power plants "can be time-consuming."

The report came the same day the government unveiled plans for a series of public forums across Ontario about the electricity industry. Ms. Cansfield said yesterday that three days of hearings in 12 cities will be held this month to give people a chance to voice their opinions about how the province should get its energy in the future. The hearings will focus on a report last month by the Ontario Power Authority, which recommended spending up to $40-billion to refurbish existing nuclear reactors and to build new ones.

From the Toronto Globe and Mail


Port Report - February 4

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell made her way into the harbour around midnight Friday after returning from a Detroit/Sandusky run. She is still loading Saturday morning under damp conditions and 3C degree temperatures. With a heavy snow advisory out for Saturday afternoon, the Cresswell should be well on her way for a return trip down the river.


Photo Gallery Updates - February 4

News Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 04

The two sections of the a.) WILLIAM J. DE LANCEY, b.) PAUL R TREGURTHA) were joined at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. and float-launched on February 4, 1981, (Hull #909).

February 4, 1904 - Captain Russell of the PERE MARQUETTE 17 reported that Lake Michigan was frozen all the way to Manitowoc.

On 04 February 1870, the Port Huron Weekly Times reported that “a Montreal company has purchased all the standing timber on Walpole Island Indian Reservation [on the St. Clair River…] A large force of men are employed in hewing, cutting and delivering the same on the banks of the river in readiness for shipment… The proceeds of the sale of timber on Walpole Island will probably amount to $18,000 to $20,000, to be distributed among the Indians of the island to improve their farms.

In 1977, the ROGER BLOUGH arrived at the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, Ohio for winter lay up and a 5-year hull inspection. She had departed South Chicago after unloading on Jan 25th and the trip took 10 days due to weather and heavy ice.

Data from: Max Hanley, 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.


Lansdowne Refloated

2/3 - The Landsdowne had been resting on the bottom of Presque Isle Bay in Erie, after taking on water on Christmas day.

Crews were seen actively working on the Lansdowne on Thursday afternoon, with pumps running to remove the water that had collected in the hull. Friday morning, the ship has been refloated, and the salvage crews have departed.

The Erie city council has ordered the Lansdowne be removed from its current location at Sassafras Pier, as a convention center is to be built on the pier.

Reported by James Robinson


Mittal Shutting Down W.Va. Mill
Cutting up to 100 more jobs

2/3 - Weirton, WV. - Mittal Steel Co. plans to shut down the sheet mill at its West Virginia operation, eliminating as many as 100 jobs in addition to the more than 800 cuts announced last fall. General Manager Brian James said the mill is no longer accepting orders for galvanized steel, or steel that is coated with a protective layer of zinc. The mill will be shut down within three months, he said. Lightweight steel causes the production line to run slowly, which James said costs Mittal productivity and profit.

On Nov. 29, Mittal announced it would shut down a blast furnace and permanently cease production of raw steel because historically high raw materials and shipping costs have made Weirton Mittal's highest-cost producer. Weirton will instead focus on tinplate and will use steel slabs shipped in from lower-cost mills in Cleveland and Sparrows Point, Md. That leaves about 1,300 union workers and makes a finishing mill out of the massive factories that once employed some 13,000 workers across the Ohio River from Steubenville, Ohio.

"It's a shame that the sheet mill is of such small interest to Mittal that they don't care," Independent Steelworkers Union spokesman Dave Gossett said Thursday.
Mittal, based in The Netherlands, took control of Weirton in April through a $4.5 billion deal with former owner International Steel Group of Richfield, Ohio. ISG had won a bidding war for Weirton, the nation's No. 2 tin producer, in bankruptcy court in 2004. Already the world's largest steelmaker, Mittal last week announced a $22.5 billion takeover bid for Spanish rival Arcelor SA, but said its offer would not mean job cuts.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Cliffs stock leaps to dizzying heights
Steel's resurgence good news for Cleveland iron ore company

2/3 - To say Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. is a symbol of America's old economy is putting it mildly. The iron ore mining business dates back to before the Civil War. Yet when it comes to making money for its investors, the firm has been performing like a certain Internet colossus riding the wave of a search-engine breakthrough. If you were shrewd enough to have purchased Cleveland-Cliffs stock at its three-year low and still hold it today, you would know what it's like to hit the investor's equivalent of the mother lode.

Shares of Cliffs, as the company is known, closed Wednesday at $108.25 per share on the New York Stock Exchange. That's more than 14 times the split-adjusted closing price of $7.50 per share back on June 3, 2003. In other words, a $10,000 investment at $7.50 a share would now be worth more than $140,000.

In the last eight business days alone, Cliffs stock has jumped more than 18 percent, riding merger fervor in the steel industry and good news out of Cliffs' Australia operations. One thing going for Cliffs is earnings, gobs of them, since demand for iron ore shot up with the resurgence of the steel industry a couple of years ago. While Cliffs lost $33 million in 2003, its revenue went up 39 percent the same year, foreshadowing what was to come. Profit returned in a big way in 2004 as sales increased 46 percent and earnings of $324 million. When the company releases its 2005 results later this month, they should be robust, too. Sales for the first three quarters of 2005 totaled $1.27 billion, up 45 percent over the previous year. Earnings were up 75 percent to $210.5 million.

Cliffs is one of Cleveland's classic companies, although the bulk of its employees have always worked elsewhere. The firm began as the Cleveland Iron Co. in 1847. When the Soo Locks connecting Lake Superior and Lake Michigan opened in 1855, the first load of iron ore to pass through belonged to the company. The business eventually became the Cleveland Iron Mining Co. In 1890, with William G. Mather at the helm, it merged with another mining concern, Iron Cliffs Co., whose founders included Samuel J. Tilden, the Democratic nominee for president in 1876. The merged company became known as Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. Today, the William G. Mather ore boat is a floating museum in Cleveland's harbor.

The company would expand into oil, gas and shipping, but today it's strictly iron ore. It has stakes in six mines across Michigan, Minnesota and Eastern Canada that produce low-grade ore that is then concentrated and made into pellets for use in steel company blast furnaces, mostly in North America. Last year the company bought Portman Ltd., the third largest iron ore producer in Australia.

Cliffs shares probably were also moved by "very strong" earnings reported earlier this week by Portman Ltd., the Australian iron ore company Cliffs bought last year. Portman is in the process of substantially increasing its capacity, McGregor said, and with an expected price increase that bodes well for the future.
In general, the supply of iron ore should remain tight in 2006, McGregor said, which means global prices will continue to go up, possibly as much as 20 percent - still far short of the more than 70 percent increase last year. The price increase for Cliffs' business in North America may not be as much, perhaps 10 to 15 percent, McGregor said. Cliffs' bottom line earnings in 2006, however, will depend a lot on increases in such costs as electricity, natural gas, diesel fuel, employee health care and even explosives, he said. "My guess is 2006 will be a pretty good year for these guys as well."

Cleveland-Cliffs has United Taconite, Hibbing Taconite and Northshore Mining in Minnesota, and the Tilden and Empire Mines in Upper Michigan. Two other mines are operated in Canada, plus interests in Australia.
From the Cleveland


Port Huron Marine Mart set for Saturday, June 3 - 9:00 AM To 3:00 PM
Boatnerd Cruise to Follow

Buy and sell books and other Great Lakes shipping memorabilia at this annual show sponsored the Port Huron Museum, at the Seaway Terminal from  9:00 am to 2:00 pm. on Saturday, June 3. Admission to the show is free. The Marine Mart, will feature dealers selling a variety of nautical items, from books and photos to life rings, flags and other memorabilia. Also on display will be the ex-USCG Buoy Tender Bramble, and the Tall Ship Highlander Seas. The Seaway Terminal is a great place to hang out and take pictures of the passing traffic. Boatnerds are joining the fun and calling it the Port Huron Gathering.

Saturday, June 3 - Special Boatnerd Cruise - There will also be a special 2-hour tour of the St. Clair River aboard the Huron Lady II, beginning and returning at 4:00 p.m. Cost is $12.00. Pay as you board with cash or check, but you must make reservations by calling 810-984-1500 or 888-873-6726.The Huron Lady II departs from the southeast corner of Military Street and the Black River, next to the Standard Federal bank and the bridge.


Port Report - February 3

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
From today's Globe & Mail: Firm Plans Hovercraft To Run On lake Ontario. A new company is floating plans to shuttle passengers between Toronto and the Niagara Region. Toronto-based Hover Transit Services said it could have a 150 seat Hovercraft running between Toronto and St. Catharines or Niagara-on-the Lake, as early as this summer. It is negotiating with the city of Toronto for docking and, if approved, will look at getting the nod in St. Catharines or Niagara.

Toronto Police boats and the fire tug Wm. Lyon Mackenzie responded to a break in call at the Queen City Yacht Club. Only booze was stolen.


Photo Gallery Updates - February 3

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 03

In 1960, the Ludington Daily News reported that the S.S. AVALON, formerly the S.S. VIRGINIA, had been sold to Everett J. Stotts of Artesia, California.

On 03 February 1899, the steamer GEORGE FARWELL (wooden propeller freighter, 182 foot, 977 gross tons, built in 1895, at Marine City, Michigan) burned while laid up near Montreal, Quebec. She had just been taken from the Great Lakes by her new owners, the Manhattan Transportation Company, for the Atlantic coastal coal trade, The loss was valued at $50,000 and was fully covered by insurance. The vessel was repaired and lasted until 1906 when she was lost near Cape Henry, Virginia.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes .


Coast Guard is on Duty for Super Bowl XL

2/2 - Detroit - On land, sea and air -- and underwater -- security is on high alert in Detroit this week. On Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard showed off its 225-foot, 2,000-ton cutter, as part of an intensive security effort on, under and above the Detroit River. Between Cobo Center and the Detroit Renaissance Center -- General Motors Corp.'s headquarters -- boats are prohibited from coming within 300 yards of an area cordoned off by yellow buoys, said Coast Guard Lt. Catherine Mellette.

The Port Huron-based Hollyhock was a last-minute addition to the plan, since the Coast Guard was expecting ice on the Detroit River and the need for ice breakers. Warmer weather means no ice.

Also, officials from United States and Canada announced Tuesday that the two governments had reached agreement that allows members of both countries' law enforcement to enforce either countries' laws. Several members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have temporary powers as U.S. Customs officers -- and vice versa. "We're working in close cooperation with our Canadian partners and have been for a long time," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Immigration, Customs Enforcement in Michigan.

But so far, no boats have come near the zone. In fact, the Coast Guard hasn't seen any pleasure boats on the Detroit River -- which isn't uncommon. Underwater, Michigan State Police dive teams are patrolling.

From the Detroit


Operation Fertile Virgo – Super Bowl XL Exercise

2/2 - USCG Air Station Detroit participated in Operation Fertile Virgo, last week on Thursday, in preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Two Air Station Detroit HH-65s completed six Rotary-Wing Intercepts while an Air Station Cape Cod HU-25 Falcon was the "Fast Moving" target for three intercept runs by USAF F-16 and Canadian F-18 fighters.

Participants included the U.S. Coast Guard, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), North East Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Canadian Defense forces, Civil Air Patrol and included simulated attacks from US and Canadian airspace.

All participants will be back on Feb. 5 for Virgo XL which will enforce/secure a 30 nm temporary flight restriction (TFR) surrounding Ford Field in downtown Detroit for Super Bowl XL.

USCG Operational Summary


Mittal Wants Majority Stake in Takeover Bid

2/2 - Mittal Steel Co.'s Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said Wednesday that his company will not accept less than a 50.1 percent stake in a merged Mittal-Arcelor company and that the 18.6 billion-euro ($22.5 billion) bid would not lead to job cuts. The takeover bid, announced Friday, would join the world's No. 1 and No. 2 steelmakers, with an almost 10 percent share of global steel production and a market capitalization of close to $40 billion. Mittal, the biggest, is based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and has units in the U.S.

Mittal Steel is the biggest U.S. supplier of high-grade, high-margin auto steel; Arcelor occupies the same position in Europe. The new company would have almost 350,000 employees at 61 plants in 27 countries - but few areas of overlap that could cause antitrust problems.

"The shareholders we have met have generally been very satisfied, very positive about the whole deal ... we are confident we will succeed," said Mittal, adding he also received positive feedback from German steel rival Thyssen-Krupp AG and United States Steel Corp. Mittal, who held meetings with top European Union officials, told reporters the offer for Arcelor SA was "not a hostile bid" and was "conditional on obtaining 50.1 percent in Arcelor

The governments of both Luxembourg and France have expressed opposition to the deal on the basis that it will cost jobs. Arcelor, created in 2002 from a merger of French, Luxembourg, Belgian and Spanish steel interests, employs just over 94,000 workers: almost 30,000 in France, 12,500 in Belgium and 6,000 in Luxembourg, where it is the country's largest employer.

Mittal said that the entire industry is in the midst of a new wave of consolidation that was needed to safeguard European jobs. "We believe consolidation is a good step for the industry," he said. Cost-savings would come from slimming down the companies' purchasing, distribution and operational businesses, not from layoffs, he said. Arcelor's Dolle said Wednesday Mittal's takeover plan was aimed mainly at garnering cash needed to modernize its own obsolete factories.

From the Buffalo News


Tourism Officials Pushing Lake Huron History

2/2 - Alpena - Tourism officials have come up with a new marketing twist for the trip up US-23 along the Lake Huron coastline - a lesson in maritime history. The state's Travel Michigan Web site is adding the US-23 route to its list of suggested ''maritime tours'' for tourists interested in making road trips linked to Great Lakes history. Tours already featured on the site include following the Lake Superior shoreline along the last voyage of the Edmund Fitzgerald and visiting historic harbor towns along southern Lake Michigan.

The new Northeast Michigan tour is scheduled to make its debut Feb. 24 on the state's tourism Web site, according to Deb Pardike, director of the Alpena County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The tour is expected to cover the route between Standish and Mackinaw City, focusing on the 1913 voyage of the steamer J.F. Durston during a tremendous storm on Lake Huron, Pardike said Tuesday. ''The stories are the things that get people excited, and that's the idea of using the Durston,'' she said.

The Web page will direct travelers to points of interest along the tour and provide links to related Internet sites, such as local chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus. ''This is so they can go to the Tawas Point Lighthouse, stand there and look out and say, 'Wow, I can imagine what they went through,''' said Thomas Ferguson, director of the Michigan Sunrise Side Travel Association.

The Lake Huron maritime heritage tour will be called ''The Lights of Northern Lake Huron'' on the Travel Michigan site, Pardike said. The hope is that people will visit the Lake Huron lighthouses located along the route, she said. Pardike said the tour was created by the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Agency and local tourism officials will unveil the Web page Feb. 24 at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, 500 W. Fletcher St., Alpena.

People can view the current maritime tours at

From the Bay City Times


Battle for Museum Ship USS Edson Begins in Earnest

2/2 - Bay City isn't the only Great Lakes port with a mind to berth the destroyer USS Edson. The Wisconsin Naval Ship Association, based in the Milwaukee area, wants to snatch the museum ship and put it in Sheboygan, Wis. The group declares itself a competitor of the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum for the Edson.

It's a serious challenge to the almost 10 years of fund-raising in these parts to bring a destroyer to the Saginaw River for use as a museum ship. There's no point lobbing bombs at the cheeseheads on the wrong side of Lake Michigan and this issue.

The fact is the USS Edson is a recently renovated museum ship in perfect condition. It's so desirable that our local group in 2003 abandoned efforts to bring a destroyer like those built in Bay City here in favor of the Edson. The Wisconsin group late last year scuttled its quest to bring the heavy cruiser USS Des Moines to Sheboygan in order to pursue the Edson.

Our local group is ahead of the game, with a berth picked out, enough money to bring the Edson here and an application for the ship already sent to the Navy. If anyone is on the fence about helping bring this ship here, now is the time to jump in and lend a hand. And charge full speed ahead to bring the Edson here.

The Wisconsin group will have six months to also apply for the ship if the Navy deems the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum paperwork in order. Then the Navy and Congress will decide where the Edson goes. May the best port win.

Editorial from the Bay City Times


Obituary: Chief Engineer Sam McLeod

Samuel Archibald McLeod, retired Chief Engineer for Upper Lakes Shipping died in Collingwood, Ontario on February 2, 2006 after a long battle with cancer.

He shipped out at the age of 16 in 1944 starting as forward end crew then transferred to the after end gang and worked his way up through the engineering ranks. He spent many seasons on some "Boatnerd" favourites including 2nd Engineer on the JOHN ERICSSON, Chief on the RED WING, and his final 16 seasons as Chief on the CANADIAN MARINER.

He retired in 1988. Sam is pre-deceased by his wife Billie and he has 5 daughters, 2 sons and 4 grandchildren who will miss him dearly.


Rochester Settles a Ferry Debt
Nearly $3.2 million paid to ship's manager; contract buyout pending

2/1 - The city has settled up with Bay Ferries Great Lakes LLC for debts covered by the ferry manager, cutting the company a check for nearly $3.2 million. Doing so drained more than one-third of the $9.4 million that City Council agreed to loan from city insurance reserves to pay expenses for shutting down the ferry service. City officials still must negotiate a buyout of their three-year contract with Bay Ferries. Monday's check for $3,192,374.59 was for expenses Bay Ferries covered to date for the city-created Rochester Ferry Co. More than one-third of the total was spent on fuel for the 774-passenger ship.

Mayor Robert Duffy decided Jan. 10 to end the Rochester-Toronto service after the operation lost $10 million in 10 months. Rochester Ferry was broke and Bay Ferries had covered an estimated $2.5 million in expenses at the time of Duffy's announcement. In a Jan. 12 letter to City Council, Duffy noted that and shutdown costs were "best estimates at this time" for shutting down the service.

A follow-up memo was sent to City Council members before their Jan. 17 vote authorizing the $9.4 million internal borrowing. The memo itemized more than $650,000 in additional, outstanding debts at various payment stages, resulting in the figure of nearly $3.2 million. That adds to a restructured $40.5 million debt used to buy the ship and pay most 2005 expenses.

Ferry board member Gary Walker, who also is spokesman for Duffy, said the $9.4 million estimate was conservative. The legislation built in a $500,000 contingency. The ferry board will be receiving detailed reports on a monthly basis of expenditures drawn from reserves. The board last met Jan. 24. The next board meeting has not been set.

From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


Port Reports - February 2

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Peter R. Cresswell was making her way into the harbour late Wednesday morning with a stiff SSE breeze blowing. After a run to southern Lake Michigan last Saturday, she will be doing numerous runs to the Detroit area with loads from Sifto Salt.

Toledo -
On this unusually sunny Wednesday, Algosar is loading at the BP Riverfront Terminal. Sarah Spencer lies alongside Toledo Shipyard for work.

Port Colborne - Herb
Canadian Progress arrived overnight to lay up at Wharf 18-3 in Port Colborne, just south of the Canadian Enterprise. It has been mentioned that there may be an early start-up due to the mild winter so one of the lay-up fleet may be departing soon.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 02

On February 2, 1981, the ARTHUR SIMARD grounded in the St. Lawrence River on her way from Montreal to Sept Iles, Quebec with a cargo of diesel oil and suffered extensive bottom damage.

The SAMUEL MATHER, a.) PILOT KNOB (Hull#522) had her keel laid February 2, 1942, at Ashtabula, Ohio by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

February 2, 1939 - The CHIEF WAWATAM went to the shipyard to have a new forward shaft and propeller placed.

Data from: Max Hanley, 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


Photo Gallery Updates - February 1

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

2006 Lay-up List updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 01

On 01 February 1871, the SKYLARK (wooden propeller steamer, 90 tons, built in 1857) was purchased by the Goodrich Transportation Company from Thomas L. Parker for $6,000.

On February 1, 1990, the U.S.C.G.C. MESQUITE was officially decommissioned.

The steamer R J GORDON was sold to M. K. Muir of Detroit on 1 February 1883.

In 1904, the ANN ARBOR NO 1 found the rest of the fleet stuck in the ice outside Manitowoc. She made several attempts to break them loose, she became stuck there herself with the others for 29 days.

In 1917, the ANN ARBOR NO 6 (later ARTHUR K ATKINSON) arrived Frankfort, Michigan on her maiden voyage. The entire town turned out to welcome her.

On 1 February 1886, Captain Henry Hackett died in Amherstburg, Ontario at the age of 65. He and his brother, J. H. Hackett, organized the Northwestern Transportation Company in 1869.

In 1972, the ENDERS M VOORHEES locked through the Poe Lock downbound, closing the Soo Locks for the season.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, 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.


News Archive - August 1996 to present

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping

Comments, news, and suggestions to:

Copyright 1996 - 2004 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Due to frequent updates, this page will automatically reload every half hour