Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Harsen's Island Ferry Service Stopped by Ice

2/28 - Harsen's Island - The car ferry servicing Harsen's Island has been stuck at its dock on the Saint Clair River. An air boat is being used to cross the river to help. Tuesday the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay was working to help the ice move through the channel and allow the ferry to pass.

A spokesman for the United States Coast Guard in Detroit said the ferry has been down because of high volumes of ice. He said it happens every year around this time because there is always a lot of ice.
He said a helicopter will be sent in case of a medical emergency. He said residents are on their own until the ice breaks up and the ferry can ply the waters again.

A police sergeant for St. Clair County said its been a couple of years since there's been enough ice for the ferry to get stuck. He said the residents could be stuck for a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

From Detroit TV-4


U.S.-Flag Carriage on the Lakes Slips 20 Percent in January
Low Water Levels, Lack of Dredging Take Their Toll Again

2/28 - Cleveland—Inadequate depths in Great Lakes ports and waterways again robbed U.S.-Flag vessel operators of hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo January. The fleet moved only 3.3 million net tons during the month, a 20-percent decrease compared to a year ago. The January float was, however, marginally ahead of the month’s 5-year average.

The month’s largest iron ore cargo tells the story. The top load was 62,438 net tons. Yet when high water levels masked the effects of lack of adequate dredging in the late 1990s, 1,000-foot-long vessels carried as much as 72,300 net tons in a single trip. Therefore, January’s largest iron ore cargo represented only 86 percent of the capacity that is available when vessels can load deep.

Only one commodity, limestone, registered a noticeable increase in January, and that was because mild weather at the beginning of the month allowed some quarries to continue shipping a bit later than normal.

From Lake Carrier's Association


c. Columbus Calls off 2007 Soo Visits

2/28 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. -Three planned local visits of the cruise ship c. Columbus during this year have been scrapped, says Jerry Dolcetti, the City's commissioner of engineering and planning.

In a memo to City Councillors, Dolcetti advises that a local agent for the Columbus has advised that the big boat won't be returning to the Roberta Bondar dock this year "due to the continued low water levels being experienced in the Great Lakes." Other ports with similar water problems include Sarnia, Tobermory and Port Huron, which have also been removed from the Columbus's itinerary, Dolcetti says.

After a complaint last year, the City retained Purvis Marine to investigate removal of sediment from the river bottom near the docking location. Council has been advised that most bedrock near the dock is close to or deeper than the 6.5 metres needed by the MV Columbus. The ship's owners are "very happy" with the facilities provided by the City of Sault Ste. Marie and will consider returning here once the river has returned to its required depth, Dolcetti says.

From SooToday


Port Report - February 28

Calumet - Tom T.
The new Mackinaw was working Calumet Harbor on Tuesday. The mountains of salt across river from KCBX are almost gone.


Great Lakes Granddad
Oldest ship on inland ocean gets set for season on Lake Michigan

2/28 - South Chicago - Six years before the RMS Titanic set sail on its doomed maiden voyage, a Great Lakes steamship was launched, and it's still in operation.

Now called St. Marys Challenger, it is the oldest ship still in service on the Great Lakes. This winter, the 101-year-old Challenger is docked in South Chicago while a maintenance crew from Milwaukee does minor repairs to get it ready for spring sailing.

The Challenger often can be seen just east of the S. Kinnickinnic Ave. bridge, unloading thousands of tons of cement into the St. Marys Cement Co. silos. The ship carries cement from St. Marys' manufacturing plant, in Charlevoix, Mich., to Chicago, Manitowoc, Ferrysburg, Mich., and Milwaukee. Challenger is one of only two remaining ships still active on the Great Lakes powered by a Skinner Marine Unaflow steam engine. The other vessel is the car ferry Badger, which is powered by two of these engines.

Lately, Great Lakes ship watchers have wondered how much longer Challenger will keep sailing. "There's a rumor that she might not have many more seasons left. You sure hate to hear that," said George Wharton, a Strathroy, Ontario, retiree who spends his time watching, "chasing" and photographing ships.

The ship's crew has heard such talk for the last 16 years, said Kevin Rogers, the ship's port engineer who oversees winter repairs. There aren't many ships as rugged as Challenger, which took its maiden voyage in 1906 - two years before Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile. "Everything was built strong back then," Rogers said. "This boat has steel plating that's an inch thick."

Challenger was christened as the William P. Snyder when originally launched in Detroit. Over the years, the ship also was known as the Alex D. Chisholm, Medusa Challenger and Southdown Challenger. Medusa, a Greek mythological figure, was a Gorgon, with snakes for hair and the power to turn men into stone. Medusa Challenger, owned then by Medusa Portland Cement Co., featured the head of a Gorgon as its emblem.

In the 1970s, parents in Manitowoc were known to threaten rambunctious children with a trip to the boat docks when Medusa came to town, according to an Aug. 19, 1979, article in The Milwaukee Journal.

Challenger has been one of the most-watched ships on the Great Lakes, said Wharton, who belongs to several marine historical groups and has followed ships on the lakes since the 1950s. "In boat nerd land, the Challenger is a big deal," he said. "It's a bit romantic to see this boat still going after 100 years."

Survived intense storms
Challenger has seen some intense Great Lakes storms, including rogue waves that covered much of the deck of the 551-foot ship. Rogers recalled weather that was so rough, the ship's crew members had to hold onto their plates while having dinner.

The waves were so powerful that one guy got stuck in the bathroom and couldn't get out. "He was banging on the wall. I went up there . . . and this guy was pinned against the wall next to the toilet," Rogers said.
In 1977, Medusa Challenger's crew was credited with saving two people from their capsized boat in Lake Michigan. They had been in the water for more than 15 hours. A third person died in the incident.
Challenger still has its original keel, built in 1906, and much of the equipment from the early 1900s. There's an old crank-operated telephone system, still in use, that would work even if the ship's electrical system failed.

Steam spirit
There aren't many steam-powered freighters left on the Great Lakes, but Challenger's engines could last many more years, said David Hollnagel, owner of Becker Boiler, the Milwaukee company that does the boat's winter maintenance. The steam is created by heating Bunkersea (Bunker C) fuel, a substance Rogers said was like "road tar," to 230 degrees. Steam powers just about everything on the ship, including the main engine, steering system, deck winches, generators and heat in the cabins.

Spare parts are hard to find for some of the old equipment. The port and starboard lights, for example, recently had to be rewired because the original double-filament bulbs were no longer available. "You just try and make things work. That's what engineers do," Rogers said.

In the winter, a handful of Becker Boiler employees live on the ship, docked on the Calumet River. One of the technicians, Bruce Albanese, has done maintenance and repairs on the ship for 30 years. "There aren't many guys that work on steam engines," Rogers said.

Challenger logs about 6,000 miles per season, all on Lake Michigan. The ship is old, but its wheelhouse boasts modern technology, including a satellite navigation system and weather radar. Wind is Challenger's enemy, making the ship hard to handle in the open lake. But its pointed bow helps it push through ice early in the shipping season. The ship's small size, compared with more modern Great Lakes freighters, means it has to make more trips to haul a comparable amount of cargo. But, because of its size, Challenger can access shallower, smaller ports that bigger ships can't touch.

A hull lot of cement
Every year, Challenger delivers 63 loads of cement, valued at $1 million each.

"You can't get a 1,000-foot freighter, loaded with cement, into some places," said John Polacsek with the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, in Detroit. Challenger's life span has probably been extended because it has always been in fresh water, rather than corrosive salt water. The ship also has received meticulous maintenance.

St. Marys Cement is probably waiting for an expensive, catastrophic equipment failure before retiring Challenger and converting it into a barge or giant storage bin. "That's where we come in, to keep a catastrophic problem from happening," Rogers said.

The ship's builders probably never imagined it would still be sailing after 100 years. "There are boats half the Challenger's age that are already retired," Rogers said.

Reported by Dave Borzymowski from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Marine License Expert to Speak to ISMA Lodges

2/28 - Detroit - Chuck Kakuska, of Sea-K's Licensing Service, will be visiting Detroit and Port Huron ISMA lodges twice in the next two weeks. Chuck is an expert in the marine licensing process.

The times and locations for the upcoming talks March 1, 2007 at the Quay Street Brewery in downtown Port Huron. If you plan on attending, contact either Bill Cline (810-987-5344 or John Philbin 519-344-4571

Wednesday afternoon, March 14, 2007 at the Island Cove Marina on North River Road in Harrison Township.

From ISMA Lodge #7.


Updates - February 28

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery updated


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.


Harsen's Island Ferry Stuck In Ice

2/27 - Harsen's Island - A ferry boat carrying residents of Harsen's Island has been stuck in ice in the mouth of the Saint Clair River since Friday, Local TV-4 reported.

Mike Sensoli, whose parents live on the island, said residents on the island are running out of food and fuel. Sensoli said he's considering using a friend's air boat to cross the river to help.

A spokesman for the United States Coast Guard in Detroit said the ferry has been down because of high volumes of ice. He said it happens every year around this time because there is always a lot of ice.
He said a helicopter will be sent in case of a medical emergency. He said residents are on their own until the ice breaks up and the ferry can ply the waters again.

A police sergeant for St. Clair County said it's been a couple of years since there's been enough ice for the ferry to get stuck. He said the residents could be stuck for a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

The boat's crew and passengers are on their own until the ice breaks up and the ferry can make it through the waters again.

From Detroit TV-4


Lack of Draft Slashes January Coal Trade

2/27 - Cleveland—With Great Lakes vessels’ draft severely limited by plummeting water levels and inadequate dredging, coal shipments fell dramatically in January.

Shipments totaled only 1.3 million net tons, a decrease of 35 percent compared to a year ago. The January coal float also was almost 10 percent behind the month’s 5-year average.

Light loading was most severe on Lake Superior. With the Lake’s water level hovering near the record low set more than eight decades ago, the largest coal cargo totaled only 62,437 net tons.

During periods of high water, coal loads on Lake Superior have approached 71,000 tons. Therefore, January’s largest coal cargo only represented 88 percent of the vessel’s carrying capacity.

From Lake Carriers Association


Lowering lake levels complicates coal delivery to Ontonagon harbor

2/27 - Ontonagon - Dredging out the silt at the mouth of Ontonagon River on an annual basis is a matter of vital importance to the Village of Ontonagon. “We need to dredge because the town of Ontonagon will flood if we do not dredge,” Terri Lukshaitis said.

Lukshaitis is the administrative secretary for the Ontonagon County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). She is well-informed on the dredging issue because the depth of Ontonagon’s harbor, located at the mouth of the river, has a major impact on the economy of Ontonagon County.

Smurfit-Stone Container and White Pine Electric Power LLC both depend on coal delivered at the harbor. “Our two largest manufacturers burn coal, and if we were to lose either of those two businesses, we would be in a world of hurt,” Lukshaitis said.

Smurfit-Stone owns its own dock, White Pine Electric Power has its coal delivered at a dock the EDC operates nearer the mouth of the river. The electric utility operates a coal-fired power plant and the paper mill burns coal to make steam and generate supplemental electricity.

“We bring in about 100,000 tons of coal a year by barge and right now that’s about the only way we can get it in here,” the mill’s general manager Chris Broome said. Other coal-hauling options, such as rail, are no longer viable for the mill. “We don’t even have the tracks anymore,” Broome said. “It’s been many years since we brought it in by rail.”

Flooding concerns aside, annual dredging is now necessary to bring ships into the harbor because of Lake Superior’s receding water levels.

“If we don’t get dredged, we can’t bring the boats in; it’s that close,” Lukshaitis said. “I know that Smurfit was impacted very negatively last year because the lake was down and when they were bringing coal in, they couldn’t bring the John G. Munson in fully loaded and that increases their costs.”

The John G. Munson is the freighter that hauls coal into the harbor for Smurfit-Stone. It would be more efficient, and therefore more cost-effective, if the freighter could bring a full load each trip.

Currently, the channel’s depth is 22 feet at the entrance and 19 feet at the unloading dock.

Former Ontonagon EDC administrative secretary Dorothy Bussiere submitted an application to Sen. Carl Levin seeking extension of the harbor further inland. Such an expansion is now possible because of the new bridge’s opening east of town.

Lukshaitis is attempting to contact Levin’s office to see if that application also included a request to have the harbor deepened. If it does not, she plans to add it.

Whether either of those requests will be granted is uncertain. Dredging of the Ontonagon harbor is federally funded and the work is done through the Army Corps of Engineers. Harbor extension would also be a federal project.

The Army Corps of Engineers conducted a study on the harbor extension project for the 2004 federal fiscal year. That study concluded: “Due to the regional nature of the benefits, there is not a federal interest in pursuing the subject project.” But the study stated that consideration should be given to the significant unemployment in the area before the project is dismissed entirely.

The harbor is of such small size as to keep it largely off the federal radar screen. “Because of the tonnage they get in that harbor, there’s limited amounts of resources that we have to assist them, unfortunately,” said Steven Brossart, Army Corps of Engineers Duluth Area Engineer.

Because of the size of the harbor, federal funding for the annual silt dredging is not assured, either. Lukshaitis said about 200,000 tons of freight comes into the harbor annually. To be guaranteed federal dredging funding, a harbor needs to take in at least one million tons of freight each year.

This year’s dredging, which will likely take place in June or July, made it in as a line item in the federal budget.

“This year, we did make the president’s budget; my concern is that because we are so small, we are probably not going to always make the president’s budget and what if we don’t?” Lukshaitis said.

In 2006, for instance, the dredging was funded as an earmark, an appropriation added to the federal budget by the legislature. President George W. Bush’s pledge to crack down on earmarks in his state of the union address is what has Lukshaitis worried.

On March 14, Wayne Schloop, chief of operation and maintenance for the Detroit district of the Army Corps of Engineers, will meet with Ontonagon officials to discuss budget issues, harbor funding, and what resources are available for Ontonagon Harbor.

From the Marquette Mining Journal


Share your steamer memories for exhibit

2/27 - Detroit - The Tashmoo sank. It hit a rock and then sank like one, dropping to the bed of the Detroit River at a coal wharf just above Amherstburg. That much, we know for sure. But did the passengers really tell the captain they wouldn't abandon ship because the band was too good?

That's the legend. Maybe you know for sure. Maybe you or your aunt or your grandpa the seaman was there. If you're the authority -- or if you have any other vivid tales or memories from the era of the legendary Great Lakes steamships -- the Dossin Great Lakes Museum wants to hear from you.

Closed for a makeover since Dec. 30, the museum on Belle Isle will reopen March 24-25 with a special exhibit about the luxury liners of the lakes. As part of the new installation, the museum is asking for memories, photos and souvenirs from the golden age of cruising -- not cruising Woodward Avenue, but the kind of cruising that sank out of sight after America discovered freeways.

Joel Stone, curator of the exhibit, says the South American, the City of Detroit III and some of the other Great Lakes steamships were as fancy as any hotel. They had lounges, libraries, ballrooms and top-end dining. Now we have airlines that charge you for peanuts and aisle seats. So much for progress.

Stone, 51, used to work on the Bob-Lo boats, but they don't quite qualify for the exhibit he's calling "Era of Elegance." The glory years ran from the 1880s into the early 1960s, though Great Lakes steaming had largely dried up by then. Before the age of air conditioning, you might cruise from Detroit to Port Huron just to cool off. Before highways, and before people felt comfortable wearing swim trunks onto jetliners, a trip from New York to Chicago might involve a train trip to Buffalo and then an overnight voyage to Detroit before a cab ride to the Michigan Central Depot.

"They were called night boats," Stone says, "because you'd board about 5 o'clock, listen to the band, have dinner, watch the stars and then wake up where you were going." The ships had their own branded china and silverware. The City of Detroit III had a pipe organ. After World War II, none of it mattered.

Travelers had options. They had schedules to keep. "By 1950," Stone says, "most of the companies were out of business," meaning their passengers "are kind of like World War II vets. They're disappearing."

If they can't be preserved, at least their memories can. Send recollections, photos or whatever else you'd like to Cruising, Detroit Historical Society, 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. Some of the submissions might be used in the exhibit, some might be used later, and all will be appreciated -- but please note that none will be returned. The deadline is March 5.

As for the Tashmoo, it was chartered for a midnight cruise by the Pals Club of Hamtramck. The date was June 18, 1936. Chugging out of the Sugar Island Channel near Grosse Ile on her way back to Detroit, she bashed a submerged rock that tore a hole in her hull.

While the Jean Calloway orchestra played and dancers twirled, water rose to waist-deep on the crewmen in the engine room. The Tashmoo made it to the closest dock -- and "nobody wanted to leave," Stone says. "The band was too good."

The captain prevailed, the ship emptied, and 10 minutes later, it sank. If you recall what the band was playing, or if any other part of that era is still music to your ears, the museum will appreciate it if you drop a line.

From the Detroit News


Updates - February 27

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

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.


Charles M. Beeghly Renamed

2/26 - Sturgeon Bay -  According to sources inside the shipping industry, the steamer Charles M. Beeghly has been renamed Hon. James A. Oberstar. (Pictures in the Boatnerd News Photo Gallery confirm the change.)

The change honors the U. S. Representative (D) from Minnesota who has been friendly to Great Lakes shipping interests.

Oberstar has been a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1975, representing Minnesota's 8th congressional district, which includes Duluth. With the Democrats' victory in the 2006 midterm elections, Oberstar became chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The Beeghly was built for the Shenango Furnace Company in 1959 as Shenango II. She was sold on March 1, 1967 to Pickands Mather's Cleveland based Interlake Steamship Co. The Shenango II was quickly renamed Charles M. Beeghly before entering service in 1967.

The laker's namesake was Mr. Charles Milton Beeghly who was born October 6th, 1908 and served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer for Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. (an important Interlake customer) until retiring on December 31, 1968. Mr. Beeghly died February 18, 1999.

A complete history of the Beeghly can be found in the Boatnerd Fleet Photo Gallery.


Lake fails to yield much to massive Canadian ship

2/26 - Cleveland - If Lake Erie played in an ice hockey league, its record would be 2-0-1 this weekend.
After twice turning back the U.S. Coast Guard ice cutter Neah Bay -- sending it home empty-handed after long bouts both Friday and Saturday -- the stubbornly frozen lake played to a virtual tie with the Canadian Coast Guard's best boat Saturday afternoon.

The gargantuan Samuel Risley -- a 230-foot, 3,200-ton ship, had planned to go farther up the Grand River to alleviate ice pressure and prevent future flooding. Instead, it spent nearly three hours pounding into line after line of "windrows," fractured ice reconfigured by northerly wind into rock-solid barriers jutting up from the surface of the frozen lake. Soon after nightfall, the Risley was sent on another mission to accompany a tanker across the lake, a Canadian spokesman said.

"They did what they could outside the entrance to the mouth of the river," Canadian Coast Guard spokesman Bill Southcott said in a telephone interview late Saturday. "The Risley, however, had other obligations and could not stay to finish the fight."

Those windrows had stopped the Neah Bay after half-day voyages, which only got the boat outside of the Chagrin River in Eastlake. The U.S. boat, a 140-foot, 660-ton ship, had hoped to meet up with the Canadians Saturday to double-team the ice buildup. But the Neah Bay's captain, Lt. Eric Peace, had said that southeastern winds expected as early as today, although possibly bringing icy rain, may also work to push some of the windrows in the other direction -- back out into the lake.

The Canadians agreed with that analysis on Saturday. "We've done what we can to relieve some of the pressure. It's up to Mother Nature now," Southcott said. that's hopeful news for Fairport Harbor residents, who have been warily eyeing the frozen river mouth for several weeks. "If we get a good, quick thaw, it would be very bad," said Dennis Sholtis, a Fairport Harbor Port Authority board member. "Anything the two Coast Guards can do would be a big help for us because after ice comes water, and we don't need that."

Reported by Rex Cassidy and John Morris from the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Tests this week could decide pace for partial opening of Toledo's Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge

2/26 - Toledo - Toledo city officials expect operational tests to be performed this week on the first of four drawspan quadrants installed on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge, and hope for a second quadrant to be barged into place by week's end.

How long it will take after that to reopen the King to traffic or to install the remaining two drawspan quadrants remains to be determined, project officials said Friday. David Welch, the city's commissioner of the division of streets, bridges, and harbor, said negotiations have begun between project contractor, National Engineering, and the U.S. Coast Guard regarding how construction can proceed once a March 15 deadline to reopen the river to vessel traffic has passed.

Lt. Richard Minnich, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office in Toledo, confirmed that the subject of post-March 15 river closings has been broached but that there is little to negotiate until project officials submit a formal proposal. Lieutenant Minnich said he isn't expecting to receive one until after the second drawspan quadrant is installed.

But he warned that if installation of later quadrants takes as long as the first one has, river closings aren't likely to be allowed until next winter. "They're going to make their first try at raising that first span [tomorrow]," Lieutenant Minnich said. "It was put in on the 17th. They are not going to get a 10-day closure at any time during the shipping season if that's how long it's going to take," Lieutenant Minnich said.

Mr. Welch and Kristin Cousino, the project engineer for the city, said their plan is to request river closings of no more than four days, with an expectation that later quadrants will go faster than the first as the contractor becomes more efficient at the task.

Work started early last month to replace the King's drawspans - the sections raised to allow ships to pass through - with four new sections manufactured in Wisconsin and assembled on the Toledo waterfront. Original plans called for the two drawspans to be replaced one half at a time, in phases so that traffic could be maintained across the bridge most of the time during the work. The only exceptions were to be for stretches of up to a few days when the active part of the bridge had to be in the raised position to maneuver parts being removed or added.

But project officials quickly determined that concrete work to modify the bridge structure to accommodate the replacement drawspans was taking longer than expected.

Soon after a Jan. 26 announcement that the bridge would have to close to traffic for 18 days to help meet the March 15 deadline for reopening the river, workers found cracking concrete inside the drawspans' anchor piers that needed to be replaced. The discovery extended the closing indefinitely. Mr. Welch said all necessary concrete repairs have been made, and the counterweight on the first new drawspan quadrant was finished.

While city officials hope a second quadrant - which will allow one lane of traffic in each direction to resume using the King - will be floated into place late this week, Mr. Welch said that's "uncertain because of the high winds we've been having." Ms. Cousino said that if the second quadrant's installation goes smoothly, a third quadrant could be barged in before the March 15 river reopening deadline. If that is accomplished, she said, it will be left in the raised position until the final quadrant is installed. "I think the contractor is capable of doing it. It's just a matter of us pushing them to do it," the engineer said.

Lieutenant Minnich said any river-traffic shutdowns after March 15 will have to be approved on a case-by-case basis. Closings will only be allowed during periods when no commercial vessels are expected on the river, he said.

National Engineering's original contract to replace the King's drawspans, replace its control towers, and do related construction was for $33 million. But with completion delayed a year by a design error and further complicated by this year's construction problems, the cost has been pegged at $40 million and climbing. Early last week, city officials reported they are seeking a $4.75 million federal grant to help pay for the bridge work.

Bill Franklin, the city's director of public service, said the city had planned to ask for that money to help pay off state loans it has taken out for the project, but now some, if not all, of it could end up spent on cost overruns. The amount depends on the outcome of a city lawsuit against the contractor and two engineering firms over the design problems and construction delays.

The drawspan replacement is the second phase of an overall King bridge renovation that began in October, 2001, with rehabilitation of concrete-arch viaduct spans across the Maumee River. Renovating the concrete arches cost slightly more than $10 million and was finished in early 2004.

From the Toledo Blade.


Port Report - February 26

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The shifting of winter raw sugar storage cargoes began Sunday afternoon when McKeil's tugs Jarrett M. and Wyatt M. (the former Atomic and Progress) pulled Canadian Miner from Pier 35 into the Redpath Sugar slip. Unloading is expected to begin Monday. Storage cargoes remain aboard Canadian Provider and Canadian Leader.
The island ferry Ongiara continues running to Hanlan's Point as the ice build-up at Ward's Island is still too thick to attempt docking there.
The firetug Wm. Lyon Mackenzie has been out breaking ice almost daily.
Of the five vessels on the move today, four were built by Russel Bros. at Owen, Sound.


Updates - February 26

News 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.

February 25
CREEK TRANSPORT was launched this day in 1910, as a.) SASKATOON (Hull#256) at Sunderland, England by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co.

February 26
On this day in 1932, Captain Charles Mohr was awarded the Congressional Medal for saving 27 lives in five separate rescues during his sailing career on the Great Lakes. On September 26, 1930, on the steamer WILLIAM NELSON, he rescued 7 when the last commercial sailing ship on the lakes, OUR SON, sank on Lake Michigan. On July 25, 1929, on the steamer J MC CARTNEY KENNEDY, he rescued four men and two women from an overturned motor boat on Lake Erie. On November 23, 1927, on the E G MATHIOTT, he rescued four men shortly before their yacht sank during a snow storm on Lake Erie. On November 12, 1926, also on the E G MATHIOTT, he rescued three men from the yacht VALENCIA on Lake Erie. On June 6, 1922, then on the E W OGLEBAY, Captain Mohr rescued seven individuals from a sinking yacht on Georgian Bay.

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: Roger LeLievre, Joe Barr, Joe Barr, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, 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.


Mackinaw in Marinette

2/25- The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw will enter Green Bay at Rock Island Passage on or about the first of March and will operate in Green Bay the first two weeks of March. While in Green Bay, Mackinaw will be performing a series of operational tests to evaluate and record the performance of shipboard systems in ice. The cutter will base their operations out of the Marinette Fuel Pier, east of the Ogden Street Bridge, Marinette, WI. This will require daily transits of the Menominee River as well as operations in Green Bay north of a line drawn from Peshtigo Reef Light east to Sherwood Point along the Door Peninsula. USCGC Mackinaw will transit along the charted Lake Carriers Association (LCA) track lines upon entering and exiting the bay of Green Bay. The specific ice trials will occur in the triangle between Green Island, Chambers Island and Sherwood Point.

The USCGC Mobile Bay will also be participating in these ice trials. Based in Sturgeon Bay, WI, Mobile Bay will begin daily transits of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal from the Michigan Street Bridge to Sherwood Point. Recreational ice users along this channel, especially in the vicinity of Pottawatomie State Park, should be aware of this icebreaking transit.

Recreational users of the ice should plan their activities carefully, use caution near the ice and stay away from shipping channels and the charted LCA track lines.

Report by USCG


Port Report - February 25

Grand Haven Recap - Dick Fox

The last vessel to visit for the 2006/2007 season was the Wilfred Sykes on January 24. The Sykes was the most frequent visitor delivering 14 cargos to the Lake Michigan Port.  The season total was 89 cargos received, 14 shipped out on 15 different boats. This compares to the 2005/2006 season with 112 received, 13 out, on 20 different boats.


Updates - February 25

News Photo Gallery updated


Wind Driven Ice Blocks River

2/24 - Fairport, Ohio - Ice piled by strong northwest winds, prevented the Coast Guard's Neah Bay from reaching its ice-breaking mission at the mouth of the Grand River in Fairport Harbor.

Whether that will mean flooding in Fairport and nearby Grand River may depend on when the weather warms and the winds turn - or if Canadian forces arrive first.

The weather is expected to turn by Sunday, when National Weather Service forecasters say southeastern winds will bring some rain and temperatures above freezing to Northeast Ohio. That could move enough ice offshore for the U.S. boat to make another run at Fairport Harbor on Sunday.

The Canadians should arrive a day sooner. A spokeswoman for the Canadian Coast Guard said late Friday that the Samuel Risley, an ice cutter about twice the size of the Neah Bay, would leave Ontario "at first light" today and could be in Fairport by mid-afternoon.  "But there's no guarantees on Lake Erie when it's ice-covered," said Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Carol Bond.

The Americans are well aware of that. Neah Bay Capt. Eric Peace said the 140-foot, 662-ton ship was turned back by line after line of frozen chunks on Friday. "It's just too slow - we'd make it there, but not until sundown," he said about 1 p.m. Friday, after he ordered the boat to head back to its home harbor in Cleveland.

Peace called the formations "windrows," lines of buckled ice chunks created by gale-force winds from the north, which he said pounded the Northeast Ohio shore overnight.

At times on Friday, the windrows slowed the Neah Bay down so much that it would travel only a football field's length every 15 minutes. "We're not stuck - you can't get this boat stuck," Peace said. "But it is too slow to do any good."

From the moment the boat left the breakwater at Cleveland, Peace and his crew were concerned by the white walls of ice out on Lake Erie.

"It looks like Krypton out there," said Coast Guard spokesman Bill Colclough. "Or like a cemetery of frozen ice blocks."

Similar blocks are jamming not only the Grand River, but also the mouth of the Chagrin River in Eastlake.

But Peace said the Chagrin runs too shallow for the Neah Bay to be of any help to Eastlake and without a bigger boat, Fairport Harbor would have had to wait a few more days, too. As of late Friday, the two rivers weren't dangerously high yet - but chances are they will be, local and national experts predict.

"Once ice decides it's time to move, nothing can stop it," said Patricia Weyrick, who manages a nationwide database of ice dams for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Ice dams are a common cause of flooding and can be extremely dangerous - both because of the large chunks of ice and the damage they can cause and the flooding water," she said.

By the end of the day Friday, after six hours of bashing into ice formations, Peace was reflective in apparent defeat.

"It's not uncommon for these windrows to stop a ship, even the bigger Canadian ship," he said. "You just get up the next day and try again."

Report by Bill Kloss from the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Port Report - February 24

Western Lake Erie - Erich Zuschlag

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was escorting the Algosea through the ice fields of Western Lake Erie Friday.


Storm sediment still a port risk, officials caution

2/24 - Toledo - Maumee Bay and the Maumee River channels leading to the Port of Toledo remain deep enough for ships to carry full loads, but conditions elsewhere in the Great Lakes system mean some ships calling here will have lightened loads, an industry representative told the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

But port authority officials themselves said Toledo's port is vulnerable to a rush of sediment from a heavy rainstorm or if Lake Erie's water level drops.

"We're one bad Lake Erie storm short of the port closing," Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon said.

Glen Nekvasil, secretary of the Great Lakes Maritime Coalition, yesterday told port authority officials that shallow channels elsewhere cost the shipping industry thousands of tons per load, and are the result of inadequate dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps' budget is being constrained by a financial sleight-of-hand in Washington, he said.

"Every ton of cargo pays into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which is supposed to pay for dredging," Mr. Nekvasil said.

"But the trust fund has a $3.5 billion surplus. They're using the surplus in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund as a way of masking the federal deficit. When you pay a tax for a service, you kind of expect to get that service in return, don't you?"

While Lake Erie's water level on Feb. 9 was 11 inches above its long-term average, Mr. Nekvasil said, Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan are all 11 inches or more lower than average, which affects all cargoes shipped between Toledo and Upper Lakes ports.

James Hartung, the local port authority's president, said the Toledo port has maintained adequate water depth only because dredging has been concentrated on the center of the shipping channel, which leaves vessels vulnerable to running aground if strong winds or currents push them even slightly off course.

The Toledo harbor channel is the longest in the Great Lakes.

Mr. McCrimmon and Mr. Nekvasil gave similar testimony last week before the subcommittee on energy and water development of the House of Representatives' appropriations committee. Mr. Nekvasil said he now is touring Great Lakes ports to rally support for a higher dredging budget.

In a Feb. 8 letter he co-signed with three other regional senators and sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate committees for appropriations and for environment and public works, U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) protested the Great Lakes' channel dredging budget in comparison with money spent on Mississippi and Missouri river channels.

"The Great Lakes are a national treasure and central to America's shipping infrastructure," the letter said. "Our country cannot afford to neglect the maintenance of the harbors along the nation's fourth coast."

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) is "mindful of the lake carriers' and port operators' concerns about dredging shortfalls," agreed Steve Katich, a spokesman for the congressman.

"It is a Great Lakes problem, and one that many Great Lakes legislators have been looking at," he said.

From the Toledo Blade


Mackinaw Programs Airs in Detroit

PBS TV in Detroit will broadcast "Breaking Ice" Tuesday, 2/27 from 9-10 p.m. Veteran broadcaster Mort Crim narrates this documentary which takes viewers along on the final mission of the Mackinaw after 60 years on the Great Lakes. The journey follows the "Mighty Mac" as it breaks ice in the picturesque St. Mary's River and through ice-choked Whitefish Bay to open commercial shipping lanes.
Breaking Ice chronicles the "changing of the guard" as the World War II era veteran yields to the new Mackinaw, a 100-million dollar, ultra-modern replacement. After the commissioning ceremony, the crew puts the new cutter to the test in ice over 2 feet thick in Green Bay.

 This video is also available for sale from the main page of BoatNerd.


Updates - February 24

News Photo Gallery updated - Pictures of the Mystery Wreck found off Duluth

Public Photo Gallery updated


Cleveland-Cliffs crushes revenue records

2/23 - Duluth - Iron ore producer Cleveland-Cliffs smashed plenty of rock and a lot of records in 2006.

The Cleveland-based iron ore supplier, manager and owner or part-owner of three mines in Minnesota and two in Upper Michigan, set new revenue records for the year.

Revenue from product sales and services in 2006 reached $2 billion, a 15 percent increase over the previous record set in 2005. Operating income hit a record $387.5 million, a 9 percent jump, and sales margin jumped 12 percent to an all-time high of $435.8 million.

Cleveland-Cliffs, and the entire North American steel industry, have benefited from continued strong worldwide steel demand.

Sustained steel demand in Asia is projected to remain strong into 2007, company officials said. “Our outlook regarding industry conditions during the coming year is very encouraging,” Joe Carrabba, Cleveland-Cliffs president and CEO, said in a news release. “Domestically, we see the recently reported corrections in steel inventories continuing, which should result in firmer prices by mid-year. Entering 2007, Cliffs is serving a reinvigorated North American steel industry and expanding its presence in the world’s fastest-growing steel-related material markets.”

Hibbing Taconite Co. led all six Cliffs-managed mines in 2006 with 8.3 million tons of taconite pellet production. Northshore Mining Co. in Babbitt and Silver Bay produced 5.1 million tons; United Taconite, 4.3 million tons; the Tilden Mine in Upper Michigan, 6.9 million tons; and the neighboring Empire Minem, 4.9 million tons. Wabush Mine in eastern Canada produced 4.1 million tons.

All Cleveland-Cliffs’ North American iron ore operations are expected to operate at or near capacity in 2007, company officials said.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $83.7 million, and $293.8 million for the year. That compares to net income of $66.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2005 and $277.6 million for the year.

A boost of 5.28 percent in 2007 world iron ore pellet prices also is expected to benefit the company in 2007.
Cliffs-managed mines expect to produce about 36 million tons of iron ore pellets in 2007, up from 33.6 million tons in 2006.

Pellet inventories as of Dec. 31 were 2.6 million tons compared to 3.3 million tons at the end of 2005.

In 2008, the planned restart of an idled furnace at Northshore Mining Co. would boost annual production there by about 800,000 tons.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Got a story about cruising the Great Lakes?

2/23 - Detroit - Quietly, on Belle Isle, metro Detroit’s maritime museum is getting a makeover. And museum officials are looking for help from the public. (And we’re not talking about donations — for the moment, anyway.) Workers at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum are painting, refurbishing and repairing the 47-year-old blue brick building in preparation for its re-opening March 24.

One of the new exhibits is entitled “Era of Elegance,” which will recall the period from about 1880 to the 1960s when Detroit was the home port of such richly appointed steamships as the North and South American, City of Detroit III, the Tashmoo and Put-In Bay. They made both day trips and overnight cruises to a number of Great Lakes destinations.

That’s where the public comes in. The museum wants to hear from people who traveled or worked on these ships. They want stories, anecdotes, even tales of waterborne romance. “People who remember the City of Detroit III are like World War II vets,” said Curator Joel Stone. “They’ve got some great memories, but they are disappearing.”

Vicky Colwell has memories. She has kept them in a scrapbook, and it is headed to the Dossin. Colwell, of St. Clair Shores, worked as a teenager on the Aquarama, a fancy car ferry that traveled between Detroit and Cleveland from the mid 1950s to 1962. The ship was an old troop carrier that had been refitted with, among other features, a sleek-looking superstructure.

It seems almost amazing now that people 50 years ago would spend six hours and whatever the fare was to travel by water to Cleveland when they could drive there in three hours or so. “But it gave you the feel of being on a cruise,” Colwell said Wednesday.

Colwell, freshly out of Grosse Pointe High School (now Grosse Pointe South), worked as an assistant purser and made public address announcements. “They had bingo and about six restaurants. “It was eating, drinking and dancing and pretending you were on a great big cruise ship.”

Along with “Era of Elegance,” the museum will also unveil “Maritime Marvels,” which will feature waterborne engineering developments, such as the first outboard motor, Detroit’s once-huge shipbuilding industry and the city’s early water system. When the Dossin re-opens, visitors will see spruced-up versions of the longtime exhibits, including the Gothic Room, from the steamer City of Detroit III, the ship collection and the Boblo boat.

Like its parent, the Detroit Historical Museum on Woodward, the Dossin is now run by the Detroit Historical Society, the non-profit organization that assumed control last year from the cash-strapped city of Detroit.

For the “Era of Elegance” exhibit, send your memories by letter to Cruising, Detroit Historical Society, 5401 Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI 48202. Or by E-mail

Detroit Historical Museum 


Chances for great developments along the St. Lawrence

2/23 - Morrisburg - With the 50th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and a related power project coming next year, two local senior citizens with long memories are looking for a celebratory gift from the province.
Mike McInnis and Les Cruickshank, both 77, say shoreline land acquired by the provincial government back in the 1950s and left idle since should now be freed up as a source of revenue rather than remaining a liability to taxpayers. "Scrub brush, goldenrod and wild geese do nothing for local businesses," they say.

The St. Lawrence Parks Commission, a Crown corporation, owns about 5,000 acres along the Seaway from Cornwall west to Iroquois, the men point out. While McInnis and Cruickshank acknowledge there have been spinoff benefits, including jobs, from a fraction of the land containing such commission-operated attractions as Upper Canada Village, Upper Canada Golf Course, a bird sanctuary and campgrounds, they suggest it's "not that significant."

Detrimental Policy?
Overall, the land-holding policy has been "very much to the detriment of the ratepayers," they contend. Both McInnis and Cruickshank are past members of the commission's board of directors. McInnis is a retired lawyer and former municipal councillor and Cruickshank is retired from the family road construction business. They insist they have no other motivation than a deep love for the area. Several years ago, they raised $20,000 to create a video about the St. Lawrence River and area.

As for timing of the intervention, McInnis said it's connected to the upcoming 50th anniversary and to next fall's provincial election. Neither man intends to be a candidate. "The province should, in co-operation with local municipalities, look at either sale or long-term lease of some of the land, using careful planning and environmental considerations," they say.

The pair won't have to work too hard to persuade the commission, said acting general manager Bruce Fitz-Gibbon. It recently completed an extensive study of its holdings and is now seeking cabinet clearance to lease or sell some of them for possible residential, retail and tourism development, Fitz-Gibbon said. "Some of the land is environmentally sensitive and must be protected," he said. "But we have identified pockets where development could occur."

In lieu of full property taxes, McInnis and Cruickshank say, local municipalities currently receive "a mere pittance" from the province. As a result, property owners in the counties pay additional taxes and are thus twice impacted by the loss of revenue. "There needs to be a greater balance between development and preservation," they say.

Back in 1958, they say, residents looked forward to growth with the arrival of the Seaway and power project. However, growth has been limited and the retail sector hasn't realized its full potential in the shoreline villages of Morrisburg, Iroquois, Ingleside and Long Sault.

The men say the tourist-drawing power of Upper Canada Village and other St. Lawrence Parks attractions isn't what it used to be. While an outstanding heritage site, the recreated 1860s pioneer village is "aging and needs maintenance and renewal," McInnis and Cruickshank argue. Fitz-Gibbon agreed, saying the attractions need major upgrades that could be financed by the sale or lease of some of the lands.

The former commission directors said the Mike Harris government undertook a study of the St. Lawrence land holdings that recommended divestiture of a portion of the lands. "Very little has happened since that time."

From the Ottawa Sun


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.


Welland Canal Opening to Establish New Record

2/22 - St. Catharines - The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) will open the Welland Canal on March 20th at 8:00am DST, establishing a record for the earliest opening date. The decision to open on the 20th stems partially from Seaway clients requesting an earlier start, and was made after carefully reviewing maintenance schedules and environmental considerations.

“Our system enjoyed excellent traffic results in 2006. We are building on this momentum and extending a number of incentives to encourage more shippers to utilize the Seaway” stated Richard Corfe, President and CEO of the SLSMC. “Within our system’s existing locks and channels, we have the capacity to increase our cargo volume by over 60 percent. This opportunity is very significant, in light of clogged land-based arteries and an increasing desire among organizations to improve their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission performance.”

Mr. Corfe’s U.S. counterpart, Collister (“Terry”) Johnson, Jr., Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, concurred. “The Seaway continues to play a vital role as a gateway connecting North America’s manufacturing and agricultural heartland markets to global commerce,” he said. “The new navigation season historically focuses on staple bulk cargoes, but we’re excited about the sustained improvements in project cargo trade, especially strong growth in petroleum-mining activities in Alberta and wind turbines.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the fourth Welland Canal, which predates the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Welland Canal was an engineering marvel at its inception and today the Seaway, as a whole, is yet again on the vanguard of technology. Improvements underway include the testing of a hands-free vessel mooring system, a vessel self-spotting system to enable crew members on the bridge to precisely judge their approach into a lock, and a sophisticated 3D charting system which provides an accurate model of the channel bottom, with the potential to enhance navigation and available vessel draft.

The Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the Seaway is slated to open on March 21st at 8:00am DST. Opening and closing dates are set after careful deliberation, taking into account a host of factors and the interests of a diverse group of stakeholders.

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

From the St. Lawrence Seaway Management


Duluth Mystery from the Deep

2/22 - Duluth - Ice anglers walking off the sand beach of Duluth’s Park Point have found what may be an uncharted wreckage of a Lake Superior vessel.

The outline of the wreckage was first spotted Sunday through the 10 inches of crystal-clear ice that now covers much of Lake Superior off Duluth. It sits about 150 feet out from the shoreline off the 2600 block of Minnesota Avenue, in water 10 feet deep.

Other anglers have drilled holes in the ice and lowered an underwater video camera to take a closer look.

Maritime historians say it’s not clear if the finding is a discovery of an uncharted wreck or if it’s a documented wreck that somehow was moved by currents or shifting sands. Shipwreck maps document several sunken vessels off Duluth, but all are closer either to the Duluth Ship Canal or to Superior Entry.

It’s also possible that sand covering the wreckage had been moved off the area and that the near-record low Lake Superior water level may have made the wreckage easier to see.

Either way, it seems astonishing that no one has ever noticed the wreck before. And it seems even stranger that anything that substantial could have moved very far.

“I’ve boated over that spot and swam over it and never saw it before,’’ said Isaac Ginsberg of Duluth. Ginsberg, a professional photographer, happened on the anglers who found the wreck. He took still photographs of the underwater camera’s monitor. The photos show the outline of a large wooden vessel and a driveshaft.

“We could also see the propeller, and it was big… maybe three feet across,’’ Ginsberg said, adding that it appeared too big to move much. “Maybe they beached it and burned it or something.’’

Thom Holden, director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center in Duluth, said he knew of no wreck in that area. He noted that chunks of wrecks, along with other items — such as the mystery crib recently washed ashore in Duluth — have surprised Lake Superior buffs before.

“There’s nothing I could find that’s supposed to be in that spot. How it got there, or why no one ever noticed it before, who knows?” Holden said.

Steven Sola, who was with Williams on Sunday, said the wreck was clearly visible in less than 15 feet of water.

After happening upon the wreckage, Sola retrieved a small underwater camera used for fishing. The camera revealed the decking timbers and propeller blades sticking out of the sand. "It's amazingly clear," he said. "It was like a PBS special."

After consulting some charts and other ship resources, Sola said he thinks it might be the City of Winnipeg, a wooden passenger ship built in 1870. The Minnesota Historical Society's list of shipwrecks said the City of Winnipeg was partially burned in a fire in 1881 and scuttled at an unknown location in 1898.

Conditions on the ice are unpredictable and can become dangerous quickly. Efforts by a News Tribune reporter and photographer to visit the site Tuesday afternoon were thwarted by a pressure ridge that appeared to have caused a rift of open water.

Jan Saillard, owner of Innerspace Scuba in Duluth’s West End, said he hadn’t heard of any wreckage in that area known to divers but speculated it might be a scuttled boat. “They scuttled tugboats off the point and it might be one of those where the sand shifted recently and exposed something,’’ he said.

While it’s not unusual for the western tip of Lake Superior to freeze enough for anglers to walk out on the lake, it is unusual for the lake to freeze this smooth and clear, and to have little or no snow covering the ice. It’s possible to see through the ice and clear water to objects on the bottom 20 or more feet below.

Reported by Al Miller from the Duluth News Tribune


Port Report - February 22

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Cement carrier St. Mary's Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah arrived in Milwaukee from Charlevoix Wednesday just after 5:00 a.m. and proceeded slowly up to their berth on the Kinnickinnic River where they will go into lay-up.


Port Huron Marine Mart Time Extended

2/22 - Port Huron - The Marine Memorabilia Flea Market scheduled for June 2, at the Seaway Terminal in Port Huron, has extended the open hours to 9:00am to 4:00pm. See the Boatnerd Calendar of Events for additional information.

The departure time for the Boatnerd Gathering Cruise aboard the Huron Lady II has been changed to 5:00pm to accommodate vendors and late shopper who want to join the cruise.

See the Boatnerd Gathering page for additional information.


Boat Watching Season Not Far Off

2/22 - The Welland Canal is opening in a mere 25 days.

The Soo Locks will open in 31 days, and Engineer's Day is only 127 days from today.

Do you have your Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping (Boatnerd) bumper sticker, window clinger of cloth patch?

Click here to order now. Be ready for the new season.


Updates - February 22

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Boatnerd Gathering page updated

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events 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.


Cutter Mackinaw Stops In Escanaba

2/21 - Escanaba - The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw made a brief stop in Escanaba Monday afternoon to pick up additional crew and contractors. The state of the art ice breaker is on its way to the Green Bay area where it will conduct "ice trials" to further determine what conditions the ship can operate in.

The Mackinaw also just finished helping two ships through the ice, both carrying 35,000 barrels of heating oil headed for Chicago.

From TV6 in Marquette


Seaway Lighthouse Lantern Missing

2/21 - Thousand Islands - Oceanside RCMP are seeking help in locating a stolen lighthouse lantern, valued at $20,000, from the Sisters Island lighthouse station located on the small island off the northwest end of Lasqueti Island.

“Someone from Lasqueti Island has stolen it as some sort of trophy is my feeling,” says Oceanside Constable Dave Bezanson. “It’s probably someone’s disco ball. “They are jeopardizing lives by stealing this light.”

Described as 34 inches tall, 21 inches in diameter and weighing approximately 60 pounds, the lantern can be operated either by solar power or can run on 12-volt power.

The incident is believed to have happened some time ago, likely within the last six months. The station, that also houses a caretaker’s residence, is currently vacant and has been victim to break and enters in the past. This time RCMP say vandals smashed windows, shower stall doors and a toilet before making off with the navigational aid.

“It will be quite a lot of work to fly out a new one and have it rewired ... We’re lucky enough to have a small beacon on top,” says Bezanson, adding the station is still able to assist local boaters in navigating the waters.

Anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP at 248-6111 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Reported by Bill Edwards from the Parksville Qualicum News


Updates - February 21

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events 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.


Inadequate Dredging of Ports and Waterways Hurts America

2/20 - Cleveland---Lack of investment in the country’s navigation infrastructure has significantly reduced the efficiency of waterborne commerce said a leading Great Lakes official in testimony before the House’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development on Friday, February 16. James H. I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association and an officer of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, told the subcommittee “Marine transportation on the Great Lakes makes manufacturing in America possible.

The [Great Lakes] region accounts for 70 percent of the nation’s steelmaking capacity, 70 percent of its automobile production, and 55 percent of all heavy manufacturing. Unfortunately, we are not able to take full advantage of our vessels’ efficiencies because of inadequate dredging. Today, three of every four vessels leave the dock ‘light loaded’ because ports and connecting channels on the Great Lakes are not maintained to project dimensions.”

Weakley stressed that even an inch of lost draft has consequences for the American consumer. The 63 U.S.-Flag vessels working the Great Lakes lose more than 8,000 tons of cargo each trip when forced to trim just one inch from their loaded draft. “The economic efficiency lost by not carrying those 8,000 tons is borne by the U.S. economy. Those 8,000 tons of iron ore not carried could have produced steel for 6,000 automobiles. Those 8,000 tons of coal not carried could have produced electricity to power the Greater Detroit area for 3 hours. Those 8,000 tons of limestone not carried could have been used to build 24 homes.”

Weakley further noted the loss of water depth in the Great Lakes Navigation System is more accurately measured in feet. “Ships bound for Saginaw, Michigan, could load an additional 60 inches ifadequate water were available. One of the more tragic Great Lakes infrastructure stories is Dunkirk, New York, because water-based shipments to that port ended in 2005. That means 500,000 fewer tons of coal left Conneaut, Ohio, and Toledo, Ohio. As you can see, it is not a port or individual place at risk; it is the entire Great Lakes Navigation System. It is the industries and the people who depend
on affordable marine transportation whose very livelihoods are endangered.

Weakley made several suggestions on how to address the lack of adequate dredging. The first would be for the Federal Government to appropriate more money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), which was specifically designed to pay for “operations and maintenance” at deep draft ports. “I believe the HMTF contains a surplus of more than $3.5 billion,” Weakley said. “It is time to restore the ‘trust’ to the HMTF by either spending it down or taking it ‘off budget’.”

Weakley also observed that metrics other than tons could be employed to allocate resources. Weakley closed by stressing a “strong marine transportation system … allows American producers, both agricultural and manufacturing, to compete domestically and globally. We must recognize that transportation is the grease that keeps our economy moving and invest appropriately.”

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 18 American corporations that operate 63 U.S.-Flag vessels on the Great Lakes. These vessels carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: Iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, limestone, and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation.... Collectively, these vessels can transport as much as 125 million tons of cargo a year when high water levels offset the lack of adequate dredging of Great Lakes ports and waterways. More information is available at

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force represents 63 companies and organizations involved in all aspects of Great Lakes shipping and was founded in 1992 to promote increased waterborne commerce and related industries.

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association


Soo Tug Parade and Races Planned

2/20 - The annual Soo Tug Boat Parade has been scheduled for Friday evening of Engineer's Day, June 29.

The annual Tug Boat Races will begin at noon, in Soo Harbor, on Saturday, June 30.


DeTour Reef Light Tours, Weekends Scheduled

2/20 - Drummond Island - The DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society has announced the 2007 schedule of lighthouse tours and lighthouse keepers weekend stays at the light.

The restored lighthouse marks the entrance to the St. Marys River, from Lake Huron, and offers and tremendous view of passing traffic.

Information is a available at the organization's website


Trip Raffle to Benefit BoatNerd

Through the generosity of the Interlake Steamship Co., BoatNerd is offering the chance to win a four-six-day trip for four to take place during the 2007 sailing season (between the months of June and September) on the winner's choice of the classic Lee. A. Tregurtha or the Queen of the Lakes Paul R. Tregurtha.

The trip is the Grand Prize of BoatNerd¹s first ever raffle and fundraising event. Other prizes will also be given away.

All proceeds from this raffle will benefit Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, the non-profit support organization for the BoatNerd.Com Web site. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation. Funds raised will be used to upgrade our equipment, expand our services and pay monthly Internet connection charges.

The drawing will take place at 2 p.m. on June 2, 2007 at the BoatNerd.Com World Headquarters in Port Huron, Mich.

Donation: $10 per ticket, 3 for $25, 6 for $50 or 12 for $100.

Click here to order, or for more information. Tickets are also available by mail, or in person at BoatNerd World Headquarters in Port Huron, MI.


Updates - February 20

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 20

In 1957, the ELTON HOYT 2ND, flagship of the Interlake Steamship Company fleet, entered drydock at the American Shipbuilding Company yards in Chicago to be lengthened 72 feet.

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, Russ Plumb, 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 19

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 19

The first steel car ferry was launched at Bay City, Michigan in 1897. Captain James W. Martin, who conceived the idea of a steel car ferry to buck the ice and cross the lake hauling loaded freight cars, sailed the PERE MARQUETTE to Milwaukee on her maiden trip.

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, Russ Plumb, 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.


Mackinaw plans icebreaking operation

2/18 - Door County Wisconsin - The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw is scheduled to enter Green Bay at Rock Island Passage during the week beginning Monday, February 19. From there, the new icebreaker will proceed south to the ice field in the vicinity of Chambers Island to evaluate the conditions there.

The Mackinaw will transit down the charted Lake Carriers Association track lines, then back out along the same track.

Recreational users of the ice should plan their activity carefully, use caution near the ice, and stay away from shipping channels and the chartered LCA track lines.

Further information or specific questions about the exact timing of the operation can be made by phone to Sault Vessel Traffic at 906-635-3232
From the Door County Advocate


Reliance Arrives at Windsor

2/18 - Windsor - The Purvis Marine tug Reliance, pushing the barge PML 9000 with a load of coiled steel, continued down bound in the St. Clair River Saturday under the escort of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon. The tug and barge were stopped by the ice several times.

Shortly after noon the barge was stopped near St. Clair, Michigan and was assisted by the Griffon and U.S. Coast Guard Neah Bay. By mid afternoon, the tug and barge were fighting through the ice at the southern most part of the St. Clair River off Harsen's Island. The Griffon and Neah Bay made continuous passes though the channel trying to get the ice moving and ease the pressure on the barge.

Barges typically have a harder time in the ice as their width and shallow draft caused the ice to be pushed ahead until the tug and barge can make no headway.

The two icebreakers and tug and barge reached the Detroit River after 7 p.m. The upper river was mainly ice free on Saturday and the Reliance reached the dock in Windsor around 10:30 p.m.


Fund drive aims to rescue Buffalo's historic fireboat

2/18 - Buffalo - The walk from his home in the old First Ward to hockey games at Memorial Auditorium invariably took young Mike Higgins past the big red fireboat Edward M. Cotter, berthed near the Michigan Avenue Bridge.

A true son of the Buffalo waterfront whose grandfather, Frank "Sheephead" Dziedzic, once ran the Small Boat Harbor, Higgins dreamed that one day he would pilot the Cotter, which was commissioned in 1900 and is the world's oldest working fireboat. His wish came true 10 years ago when Higgins, now a Buffalo fire captain, was assigned to Engine 20 - the department's designation for the Cotter.

But his tenure will not last unless Friends of the Cotter, a nonprofit civilian group formed in 2005, completes a $250,000 fund drive that would lead to an overhaul of the vessel, named a national historic landmark in 1996. Though the cash-deprived City of Buffalo still owns the Cotter and performs basic maintenance, it is in no position to lay out money for major repairs.

Friends of the Cotter, however, is determined to keep the legend afloat, said Vince Benbenek, a business owner who heads the organization. It will sponsor the Buffalo Boat Bash from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, with proceeds going to the Cotter. Blues music and hors d'oeuvres will be featured. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Benbenek knew little about the fireboat when he joined the support group at the suggestion of a friend and board member but soon found himself drawn to the story.

Originally named the William S. Grattan, the vessel was built in New Jersey and steamed into Buffalo in 1900. Able to pump 9,000 gallons of water a minute - the equivalent of four pumpers - the fireboat fought blazes at riverside industrial plants and aboard vessels in the harbor.

In 1928, a monster fire caused by the collision of a barge and an oil tanker in the Buffalo River enveloped the Grattan, killing the engineer and badly burning four crewmen.

The rebuilt craft returned to service in 1930. In 1954, after a brief period as The Firefighter, it was renamed the E.M. Cotter in honor of the first president of the Buffalo firefighters union.

Once the city's shipping industry began to slide in the 1960s, the fireboat was rarely called into service; the last major fire it fought destroyed the West Side Rowing Club's former building in 1985.

Nowadays, the Cotter occasionally is dispatched to douse shoreline brush and driftwood fires, but its main duties are icebreaking in winter and performing ceremonial tasks like shooting its water cannons to welcome visiting ships or taking people on harbor cruises sponsored by charities. The captain, Higgins, is the only full-time crew member. Firefighters from other station houses are detailed to the Cotter as needed.

Money for the restoration - about $39,000 has been collected so far - is managed by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, which has pledged a $100,000 matching grant to the project. "It's really a feel-good story," Benbenek said. "We want to keep the Cotter going, not so much as a working fireboat but as an ambassador for city."

From the Buffalo News


Buffalo Waterfront Development Moves Ahead

2/18 - Buffalo - The redevelopment at the Union Ship Canal site in Lackawanna took a major step forward in mid February.

Another 60 acres was added to the 75 acres recently acquired to bring the total project up to nearly 250 acres. $5 million will be spent to extend the current roadway and infrastructure improvements on the South side of the Union Canal out to Tift St.

Industrial contamination on certain parcels of the property will need remediation before further building construction can take place, but much of the property is considered cleaned up and shovel ready. $7.5 million worth of parkland improvements to the area directly surrounding the Union Ship Canal was set to begin during the summer of 2007.

The design includes landscaped bike trails, shrubs, and a pedestrian bridge over the canal for quick access to either side of the nearly 5,000 foot long waterway that cuts through the property beginning at the South end of Buffalo Outer Harbor. This slip was originally cut to serve Frank Goodyear's Buffalo & Susquehanna Iron Company and the Pennsylvania Rail Road Ore Dock during the early 1900's.

Remaining industrial operations ceased with the closing of Hanna Furnace and the Shenango mould making facility in the early 1980's leaving behind a fairly well polluted "brownfield" before clean up started with taxpayer money from local governments in the late 1990's. In recent years recreational boaters, car thieves looking to dump a vehicle, salvage divers, and fishermen have taken the place of large lake vessels, ship unloading machines, and blast furnaces on the property surrounding the canal.

Once complete, the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park with have removed a total wasteland and eyesore from the waterfront while putting abandoned former industrial property back on the tax rolls. The parkland development on the South side of the Union Slip will give Lackawanna residents their first waterfront public access in over 100 years.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski from the Buffalo News


Updates - February 18

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events updated


Former grocery supplier killed

2/18 - Bill Jorden, former owner of Cross River Store in Schroeder Minnesota, was killed in a skiing accident Thursday the 15th of February while skiing at Lutsen Minnesota. Bill went out of control and hit a tree.

Bill had supplied boats at Taconite Harbor with groceries since the 1970's. A few years ago he moved to Silver Bay and started his sausage business in Beaver Bay.


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.


New Mackinaw makes its first assist through the ice

2/17 - Cheboygan - It's first ice assists completed, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw returned to its Cheboygan homeport Thursday to await a call to help the next ship transiting the Straits of Mackinac. The 240-foot icebreaker logged four days of work, clearing and grooming a track to the east and west of the Mackinac Bridge, using the U.S. Coast Guard station at St. Ignace as a rest stop.

“The ability to utilize the dock at St. Ignace was a key factor in the success of our mission,” said Cmdr. John Little. “It saves us a lot of fuel to be able to stop there and then we're quickly accessible to the Straits again. It's also easy to drive personnel or materials up from Cheboygan if needed.”

The Hannah Marine Corp. had two tug/barge combinations passing through this week. The Mary E. Hannah and the James A. Hannah each carried 34,000 barrels of fuel oil and encountered ice beginning east of Round Island Passage in Lake Huron on their way to Lake Michigan. The Mackinaw cleared a track ahead of the vessels and returned via the same route to maintain a safe passage.

“These were the first real ice assists in the Mackinaw's career,” Little explained. “We met them about 4 a.m. Wednesday east of Mackinac Island and made about six or seven knots in our westbound transit. We were concerned that they might get stuck out near the ice edge, but they made it through into Lake Michigan and are on their way.”

The Mac's skipper reported varying ice conditions enroute in the Straits. “We saw plate ice that was 12 to 20 inches thick in the area surrounding the Mackinac Bridge,” Little said. “The ice edge is out at Lansing Shoals. The roughest brash ice was at the outer edge. The southwest winds grated the edges of the ice and packed it in on the edge. Some of it was about six feet thick and we broke through it just fine.”

Little said that the Mackinaw's unique twin propulsion pods performed a task as yet unseen in Great Lakes icebreaking. The ability to move a lot of broken ice in any direction desired is relatively new to the business. The ship broke a path equal to its 58-foot beam, then turned the pods to force the chopped-up remains away, creating lots of open water. “We flushed a lot of that ice right out into the lake,” he noted. “The winds were from the northeast at the time and that helped. It was a combination of modern technology working together with nature, so to speak.”

The gasoline tanker Michigan is scheduled in from Chicago, headed for Cheboygan, on Monday - allowing the Mackinaw several days at home before heading out to escort the ship through the ice. Ironically, the time spent in port will be preparing for the spring buoy-commissioning season, a task only recently completed when the same buoys were all picked up for maintenance in the yard at the Millard D. Olds Memorial Moorings.

“We'll get our work list together and get going with replacement of batteries, lenses, anything that they need done,” Little said. It's quite a job to do so we'll chip away at it and get some things done before we go out helping ships again. We also have some contractors coming aboard to familiarize themselves with our systems and equipment.”

Little said that the Mackinaw's manufacturer's warranty has expired, so some new contractors are being brought aboard to familiarize themselves with the equipment.

Written by Mike Fornes for the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Reliance Heading for Windsor

Friday afternoon the Purvis tug Reliance was downbound on Lake Huron off Lexington, Mi towing the Barge PML 9000. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Neah Bay escorted the tug and barge downbound. The Reliance stopped above the Huron cut and appeared to switch to pushing the barge. Pushing a barge offers better control of the barge when moving through the current in the St. Clair River.

The Reliance stopped for the night at Buoy's 11 & 12 shortly after 5 p.m. Friday evening. The tug and barge waited for the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon to escort them downbound. The barge is loaded with a cargo of steel coils from Algoma Steel in the Soo destine for Windsor.

The Reliance continued downbound Saturday morning following the Griffon. The tug and barge became stuck at times in ice in the Huron Cut and required the Griffon to break the tug and barge free.


Museum ship Willis B. Boyer could be headed for scrap yard

2/17 - Toledo - She was the “Queen of the Lakes” when she launched, but what was once the world's largest bulk freighter is destined for the scrap yard if she doesn't soon receive some needed support.

The S.S. Willis B. Boyer Museum Ship, which has graced the eastern banks of the Maumee River for nearly 20 years, is in jeopardy of deteriorating to an irreparable state due to a lack of funding from the City of Toledo, which purchased the ship in 1986, said Paul LaMarre, the Boyer's executive director. For the second consecutive year, he said, the ship has had to operate without an operating budget because of the city's fiscal constraints.

“With our current funding situation, we can only do so much to fight the deterioration that's taking place,” LaMarre said. “In all reality, on her current course, the ship could survive one or two more years before being destined for the scrap yard.” “The ship structurally and aesthetically is in dire need of restoration,” he said.

Though the Boyer is braving what may be the greatest challenge in its storied history on the Great Lakes and in its ports, LaMarre said the ship won't go down without a fight. He is spearheading a grassroots campaign with Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority President and CEO James Hartung to raise funds through the private sector to save the ship. With those moneys, along with a $300,000 federal grant he is applying for through U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's office, LaMarre said he could provide for the ship's dry-docking and its structural rejuvenation.

The Boyer, LaMarre said, is in its current state because the ship's annual capital improvement budget of $50,000 has been eliminated as city coffers have been depleted. It's literally rusting out from beneath your feet ona daily basis," he said.

Symbol of the port
In front of hundreds of onlookers along the shore of an Ecorse, Mich., shipyard, the Boyer launched July 1, 1911. Then called the S.S. Col. James M. Schoonmaker, after the Civil War hero, the ship carried 12,650 net tons of coal from Toledo to Sheboygan, Wis., on its maiden voyage. The spot it sits today is nearly the exact site where it loaded its first shipment, LaMarre said.

When the Titanic was the largest passenger ship in the world after its 1912 launch, the Boyer was the largest freight vessel on the planet, LaMarre said. It is the only ship to sail the Great Lakes ever to claim the “world's largest” designation. The ship's accommodations were said to have rivaled those of transatlantic express steamships such as the Lusitania and Olympic, LaMarre said, which was unheard of for a working vessel. “Her interior is the most luxurious of any ship that sailed the inland seas,” he said.

After changing hands between various shipping companies, the ship, renamed the Boyer in 1972, was acquired by the City of Toledo from the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co. for use as a museum. It opened to the public in Toledo on July 4, 1987. “It really has been Toledo's ship and Toledo's symbol of the port for a century,” LaMarre said.

Hartung, who said he is acting as a concerned citizen in his effort to save the ship, said he would do whatever he could to stimulate interest from businesses to help provide operating funds for the Boyer. He said the ship's improvement would fit nicely with other projects planned for the Marina District and International Park areas. “The Boyer is a natural symbol of an age when maritime commerce dominated the Great Lakes,” Hartung said. “When you look at the developments that we have envisioned for the waterfront ... it's going to be continuous, it's going to be diverse and it's going to have appeal for most everyone to come and visit. “The Boyer just seems to be a perfect fit.”

Port Authority board member A. Bailey Stanbery agreed the Boyer is a symbol of Toledo's port status and should not be lost. “The history of the Boyer is related to the seaport,” Stanbery said. “As a citizen of Toledo, I feel strongly that it should be preserved and enhanced as a museum for the port.”

Sinking ship
When LaMarre took over as the ship's executive director in June, he and volunteers pumped 60,000 gallons of water from the ship that were sitting on the bottom of its starboard ballast tanks, he said. The ship, he said, needs to be examined from beneath its hull to determine the source of the leak. Dry-docking the ship would allow that to happen. After fixing the ship's hull, LaMarre said he hopes to restore the Boyer to its colors of an emerald green hull, white cabins and a black smokestack.

“I want to combine the old with the new to create a new era in this ship's life,” LaMarre said. “That's the ultimate goal. “This ship was once called the ‘Queen of the Lakes,'” he said. “We are basically aiming to witness the return of the ‘Queen of the Lakes.'” Though just more than 2,500 visitors boarded the Boyer from June to the end of October, LaMarre said he believes upgrades could give the ship an enhanced status from a tourism standpoint. There's no reason the ship museum cannot be as successful as a similar attraction in Duluth, Minn., he said.

The city's budget priorities are somewhat misguided, LaMarre said, though he understands the Boyer is non-essential at a time when fire and police services are difficult to fund. “I find it interesting that we have a brand new bike path next to the Boyer, yet we have a historic vessel which is soon going to be a National Historic Landmark deteriorating away with no attention whatsoever,” he said.

Don Moline, interim director of the city's parks, recreation and forestry department, the agency that oversees the Boyer's operation, did not return calls seeking comment. Toledo City Council President Rob Ludeman supports LaMarre's efforts, but said it is going to be a tough year for several city capital improvement projects. “I think it would be a real shame to let it go to the point where it would simply be scrapped,” Ludeman said. “It's an asset and needs to be treated as such.”

Hartung said the Boyer needs to become a showcase for Toledo and its waterfront. He said the ship symbolizes the quality of life and attitude Toledoans represent. The time is now to save the “Queen,” Hartung said.

From the Toledo Free Press


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.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 16

The ARTHUR M ANDERSON was launched at the American Shipbuilding Yards at Lorain in 1953. The 647-foot freighter became part of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company fleet.

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.


Cross-lake ferry aims for year of profitability

2/15 - Muskegon - It may not be a "make-or-break" year, but Lake Express cross-lake ferry officials are approaching 2007 as a "make-a-profit" year.

The Lake Express high-speed ferry service to Milwaukee began taking reservations this week and announced another increase in fares. It will begin its sailing season two weeks early this year, starting April 14. "This is a key year," said Ken Szallai, president of Lake Express. "We are in year No. 4 and we need to show profitability but we feel very good about what we are seeing for this year."

As a private company, Lake Express does not report passenger numbers nor financial data. However, company officials indicated that the ferry service was more profitable in its first year than the second and third due to the recent spike in fuel prices. In general, the ferry carries substantially more than 100,000 passengers each year. Lake Express and all transportation services have been hit by high fuel prices. In the past two years, the company added a fuel surcharge that could fluctuate with the volatile diesel fuel prices. This year, Lake Express added the fuel charge into the fares, which increased between 3 percent and 20 percent depending on the category.

Lake Express began its 2006 season with a $5-a-ticket fuel surcharge on each one-way passenger fare. When adding those charges into the 2006 fares and comparing them with 2007 prices, adult one-way fares are up 14 percent to $68.50, children's one-way fares up 17 percent to $41, adult roundtrip up 6.6 percent to $112 and children's roundtrip up 3.3 percent to $62.

Meanwhile, the Lake Michigan Carferry's S.S. Badger will begin taking reservations Feb. 26 and fares will be announced soon. The Ludington-to-Manitowoc, Wis., service begins May 11.

Szallai said when adjusting fares for 2007, the company wanted to give the most consideration to roundtrip travelers, the bulk and foundation of the company's business. One-way vehicle charges for 2007 will be up 20 percent to $78.50. The Lake Express carries 46 vehicles plus room for motorcycles and bicycles and 250 passengers.

Lake Express will begin its two-round-trip-a-day schedule Saturday, April 14 and continue that through April 26, when it will go to its traditional three round trips a day. The summer schedule will continue to Sept. 30 and then be scaled back to two round trips a day from Oct. 1 until the end of the season Oct. 31. The ferry will depart Muskegon at 11:15 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. in the spring and fall and 10:15 a.m., 4:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. in the summer. Trips across Lake Michigan take about two and a half hours. The ferry begins and ends each of its sailing days in Milwaukee.

This will be the first year that the Milwaukee-based Lubar & Co. -- owners of the Lake Express -- will have total control of the ship's operations. The first three seasons the maritime operations had been handled under contract by Hornblower Marine Services. "Taking complete control of the operations allows us as a company to grow within the Great Lakes and in other markets," Szallai said. Without giving any specifics, Szallai said that Lake Express continues to explore expansion of the company on other ferry routes and possibly in other marine transportation businesses.

On the Muskegon-Milwaukee route, Szallai said Lake Express has extended the sailing season as far as it can in the spring but still will look at continuing operations into November in future years. Last year, the ferry service was hit by many days of rough weather on Lake Michigan in the second half of the season. Szallai said the weather in 2006 was outside the norm.

The Lake Express continues to be a major booster of the Muskegon tourism market, officials said. The ferry service is one reason the past few years were record-breaking for the local tourism industry, according to Sam Wendling, director of the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Lake Express has become an important part of our tourism year," Wendling said. "They bring hundreds of people through Muskegon three times a day all summer long."

From the Muskegon Chronicle


Port Reports - February 15

Soo - Bonnee Srigley
Wednesday morning, the USCG Ice Breaker Katmai Bay was leading a parade down the frozen St Mary's River. The Purvis Tug Reliance is towing the Barge PML 9000 followed by the Tug Avenger IV. They have a cargo of coils of steel from the Algoma Plant. The coils have been trucked in on flat bed trailers by local trucking companies to the Purvis dock, then loaded onto the barge by equipment movers. Previous coiled steel cargoes have been delivered to Detroit and Windsor.

Rouge River - Mike Nicholls
The G tug Wyoming was breaking ice in the Rouge River off the Gaelic Tug Dock. She assisted the John Spence and Mc Asphalt 401 into Marathon later Tuesday.


Capt. Billy's tugboat keeps Chicago water running

2/15 - Chicago - By Friday morning, Billy Schmidt has been living on his tugboat for eight days straight, breaking ice on Lake Michigan.

It's 4 below zero, which is only half the problem. Billy points to an orange windsock flapping on shore. "The wind can be worse than the cold," he says, his left hand gripping the steerer in the tugboat's wheelhouse, plowing through the ice south of Navy Pier. "That's where you get real problems. We'll be out here awhile."

If you brushed your teeth this morning, running your brush under the cold water that pours from your bathroom faucet, you can thank Billy for that. He and his crew, out here in the winter gloom, are the guys who keep that water flowing. "When you get a cold snap like this one," he says, "you just keep working the ice, going from crib to crib. You sleep when you can."

Billy Schmidt is captain of the James J. Versluis, a Chicago Water Management Department tugboat that ferries maintenance crews miles out into the lake to six water-intake cribs. Most of the water used by Chicago and dozens of suburbs flows into these cribs, where it is piped to shore, filtered and treated, and pumped to all of us. Though we take it for granted, it's a fairly impressive achievement at any time -- all of this clean, fresh water magically showing up in our sinks and showers -- and in winter, it approaches the downright amazing. When Chicago gets this cold for this long, just keeping the cribs from freezing solid is a challenge.

Which is where Billy and his boat come in. The powerful Versluis, a tugboat custom-made for the Water Management Department in 1957, is designed to break up lake and river ice. Its bow is sharply cut back, allowing it to ride up onto the ice and crush it. Twenty inches of frozen water is nothing to 126 tons of tugboat. Even when the lake is at its iciest, the Versluis can crush its way to the water cribs, where deckhands using various (and, for security purposes, somewhat confidential) de-icing tricks keep the waterworks going. "The real skill is just endurance," says Billy. "You don't go home."

Working his way up Fortunately for Billy, the Versluis, in a way, is his home. He's a fourth-generation Great Lakes sailor. Billy's dad, Don Schmidt, was a tugboat pilot for Great Lakes Towing and, later, for the Chicago Fire Department. Don probably towed about 3,000 big ships -- from places like Korea and Russia -- in and out of the ports of South Chicago.

Billy's grandfather, Joe Schmidt, was a tugboat deckhand. During World War II, Joe worked on a tug that hauled a submarine from Canada to New Orleans, pulling the barge that carried the sub across the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi. Joe was killed in 1973 when a steel cable linking a tugboat to a ship snapped free and whipped back like a rubber band, splitting Joe's head. He died on the boat while the helpless captain -- Don Schmidt -- grieved.

Billy's great-grandfather from Prussia also worked on tugboats. And Billy has a daughter, one of his four kids, who's in training with the Coast Guard. "You'd see what other dads did," Billy says. "Then you'd go to work with the old man, and he's towing 750-foot Japanese freighters, and he's got two cigarettes in his mouth."

Billy, 49, worked for a while for one of the big towing firms that haul industrial materials, but he couldn't see a future in it. "We'd leave here with a barge of benzene and haul it to Detroit," he says. "We'd be gone 14 days, then get a week off. I did that for three years, and all I saw were guys getting divorces." Billy worked 22 years in the engine room of the Versluis before moving up to captain in 2002. In a kind of apprenticeship that echoes Mark Twain's dues-paying scenes in Life on the Mississippi, Billy had to work five years in the wheelhouse under the eye of other skippers before he could even take the captain's exam.

Billy's own marine engineer on the Versluis is Ed Popelas Jr., who's only 30 but seems to know everything about engines, electrical systems, plumbing and the like -- all crucial to the proper functioning of a tugboat. Ed's dad was once captain of the Versluis and is now captain of the Fire Department's boat. Rounding out Billy's crew -- and responsible for doing the work on the cribs -- are two deckhands, Tom Courtney and Rich Mika, and the boat's work coordinator, Virgil Silva.

One last crew member, in spirit anyway, is WGN-Channel 9 weatherman Tom Skilling. "Everybody on the water listens to Skilling," Billy says.

'I get a kick out of this' "How can you not like this?" Billy asks me. We're crashing through ice about 8 inches thick, child's play. But if I step outside the wheelhouse, I can't take notes before my hands go numb. If I lean too far to the right as I slip back in the door, I might fall into the lake. But I know what Billy means.

"Being outdoors, running the boat, I get a kick out of this," Billy says. "I get a kick out of moving barges up and down the river. I like when it's bad, with 10-footers, and 5 below zero, and I'm putting this boat up against that crib out there." Billy sees Chicago floaters in the spring -- dead bodies popping up as the ice thaws. He sails the Versluis up to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., for repairs. On the most ice-bound Chicago mornings, he revels in a view of the city -- tall buildings soaring above white steam -- that few others ever see.

He does good and honest work.

Of course, I know what he means. 'It must be in the blood' On Sunday, two days after my ride aboard the Versluis, I call Billy on the phone. He's still on the Versluis, still working night and day, still taking his showers there, eating there. He's still darting from water crib to water crib. He's still sleeping in a narrow bunk below deck, far from the comforts of his Edgebrook home.

"For a sailor, this is nothing," he says. "It must be in the blood."

From the Chicago Sun-Times


Great Lakes Maritime Center announces entertainment events

2/15 - Port Huron - The Great Lakes Maritime Center, at Vantage Point in Port Huron, has scheduled a series of events for winter entertainment.

On February 16, Dan Hall will sing of Great Lakes folk lore, beginning at 7:00pm.

A combination of dogs and equipment, demonstration of sled team and inside programs on Dog sledding beginning at 4:00pm on March 4. Admission is free.

Sweetwater Journey Concert will appear on March 17 at the Maritime center at 2:00pm. Tickets are $10.00 available at the GLMC. Seating will be limited.

The Great Lakes Maritime Center is located at Vantage Point in downtown Port Huron.


Updates - February 15

News Photo Gallery updated

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Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 15

In 1951, the keel was laid at Great Lakes Engineering Works for Hull No. 298. The hull was later named J L MAUTHE and is still in operation today as the barge PATHFINDER.

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: Russ Plumb, 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.


Ice Flow Captures Ferry Daldean

2/14 - Marine City - A large ice flow combined with a strong Northeast wind landed passengers and crew aboard the ferry Daldean of Chatham a little off course Monday night around 5 p.m.

The International ferry which crosses between Marine City, Mi. and Sombra Ont. spent over an hour trying to free itself from being pinned by the heavy ice onto the seawall just south of the Holy Cross Church on the Marine City side of the St. Clair River.

By 7 p.m. the ferry was back in operation.

Reported by Glenn Terbush

Pictures on Boatnerd News Photo Gallery


Davie Shipyard to Build Two Ships

2/14 - Montreal - On Tuesday Davie Quebec shipyards of Levis announced a deal to build two construction ships for a Norwegian company specializing in pipeline installation and mooring systems/risers and subsea structures used in oil pipeline construction. The shipbuilding contracts are reported to be worth US $132.6 million each with the firm Cecon AS (pronounced seacon) of Norway.

Construction of the two state-of-the-art 10,000 kW offshore ships measuring 130 meters in length and 28 meters in width and featuring a crew capacity of 100 will run from August 2007 to August 2009. With both ships slated to be entirely built at the Lévis facility, specialized workers will be gradually recalled starting in March 2007 and will number over 600 at the peak in July 2008. Options on four additional ships are included in the contract.

In addition to today's two firm contracts, Davie Québec management has options on four other similar specialized ships valued at US $530.4 million. The buyer, Cecon AS, has until February 15, 2008 to exercise these options.

The deals, signed with the Norwegian firm Cecon, come about four months after Davie was bought by Norwegian investors. The 130 metre-long ships are to be built at the Levis yards between August 2007 and Aug. 2009.

From Davie Quebec Press Release


Port Report - February 14

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
The barge St. Mary's Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah were at the Kinnickinnic River terminal making a delivery only. The tug and barge should depart as soon as the weather clears.


Updates - February 14

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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 her 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. Built in 1910, at Great Lakes Engineering Works (Hull#77) as a,) HARRY YATES, for the American Steamship Co. renamed b.) CONSUMERS POWER in 1934, c.) FRED A. MANSKE in 1958 and d.) LEADALE in 1962. Scrapped at Cartagena, Columbia in 1979.

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.


Corps will study harbor dredging

2/13 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes it can convince President George W. Bush that shallow-water, recreational ports are a valuable commodity so he'll place money for dredging such ports back into his annual budget.

“We've had no funding for shallow drift or recreational harbors the last four or five years,” Wayne Schloop, Chief of Operations for the Detroit Region of the Corps told The News-Dispatch this week. “It's not a Corps decision. It's not part of the president's budget plan.” Schloop said Tuesday the Corps has commissioned a study to pinpoint the amount of use and its financial effect on shallow harbor communities in order to prove the harbors have worth.

Currently, the federal government supplies money to the Corps only for deep-water harbor dredging at places like the Port of Indiana and the Cal-Sag Harbor. Funding has been short for the last four or five years, Schloop said.

The lack of funds hasn't stopped the Corps from continuing its shallow-water dredging yet, thanks to Congressional earmarks that have kept the program going. Relying on Congress's good graces, though, won't always guarantee the work will get done. “One challenge for the Corps is to realize the economic impact of shallow-draft harbors on their communities,”  Schloop said. “This study is in its final stages and should be a really important document to really give some validity to the economic impact.”

Second District U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly said Saturday he wasn't aware of the study, but added he's been abreast of funding issues for shallow harbor dredging for some time. He placed a great deal of importance on Michigan City's harbor and said he'd work to make sure the Army Corps either continues to receive funding through Congressional earmarks or through a renewed allocation in the budget.

“I'll try to get a copy of that study this week,” Donnelly told The News-Dispatch. “But I am aware of the issue and I intend to work non-stop to make sure Michigan City doesn't lose that funding. “I realize how incredibly important (Washington Paek Marina and the city's harbor) are to the economy in our area.”

Michigan City Harbor Master Tim Frame said this week that the Corps dredges the Trail Creek channel every three years. Most recently, the channel was dredged last season. The year before, the Corps did emergency work at the mouth of the harbor after sand built up making it nearly impossible for the U.S. Coast Guard to maneuver its 47-foot boat onto Lake Michigan.

Frame said a lack of funding to dredge the channel would likely hurt the city's marina. “If they're scaling back even more, that will certainly change things a bit,” Frame said. “The corps is always short of money, it seems.”

Frame said recent issues at the harbor have been near the channel mouth and have been taken care of by the Army Corps. Anything past that, he said, tends to fall to the city.

Trail Creek itself hasn't been dredged in “six or seven years,” Frame said, but hasn't shown a real need. The port authority looked into paying to dredge the basin - where boats moor in the marina - a few years ago, but let the bids lapse because the cost was too high. “We looked at the bids and honestly we got a case of sticker shock,” he said. “We let them go because that was just more than we wanted to pay.”

From the Michigan City News-Dispatch


Port Reports - February 13

Milwaukee - John Vogel
The St. Mary's Conquest and its tug Susan W. Hannah were docked at the St. Mary's terminal on the Kinnickinnic River mid Monday afternoon. It is uncertain if the barge/tug was simply making a delivery, or if it was in for layover.

Amherstburg - David Cozens
The CCGC Griffon returned to the Amherstburg CCG Base this Morning.
The lower river remains ice covered with only a few small openings that have attracted hundreds of hardy geese.


Trip Raffle to Benefit BoatNerd

Through the generosity of the Interlake Steamship Co., BoatNerd is offering the chance to win a four-six-day trip for four to take place during the 2007 sailing season (between the months of June and September) on the winner's choice of the classic Lee. A. Tregurtha or the Queen of the Lakes Paul R. Tregurtha.

The trip is the Grand Prize of BoatNerd¹s first ever raffle and fundraising event. Other prizes will also be given away.

All proceeds from this raffle will benefit Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, the non-profit support organization for the BoatNerd.Com Web site. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation. Funds raised will be used to upgrade our equipment, expand our services and pay monthly Internet connection charges.

The drawing will take place at 2 p.m. on June 2, 2007 at the BoatNerd.Com World Headquarters in Port Huron, Mich.
Donation: $10 per ticket, 3 for $25, 6 for $50 or 12 for $100.

Click here to order, or for more information. Tickets are also available by mail, or in person at BoatNerd World Headquarters in Port Huron, MI.


Toronto Marine Historical Society Creates Index

2/13 - The Toronto Marine Historical Society has created an index to over the 300 different vessels that have been featured in their monthly publication "The Scanner".

The publication is in it's 39th year and would be a valuable resource for researchers.

More information is available at the groups website


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.


Port Reports - February 12

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The unloading of sugar storage cargoes from the three ULS ships wintering here, has been set back until the first week of March.
There are a pair of bald eagles wintering on the island. News media cameramen and birdwatchers are flocking to the harbour and to the island on the ferry Ongiara to photograph them.

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
The ice in the Buffalo River looks like it has been somewhat broken up by the Edward M. Cotter over the last few days, but the reach between the Skyway Bridge and the Lakefront is pretty solid and snowed over with just the slightest hint of a broken track showing through as bumps in the ice surface left over from some time ago.
The Sand Supply Co. landing on the City Ship Canal looks to be fairly well depleted of product and in need of a quick top off. They may be in for a quick cargo delivery at the start of the shipping season in the Springtime.
Heavy wind rowed ice could be seen right outside the Buffalo Breakwall, this must have been the pack ice that gave the Samuel Risley & Canadian Transport enough trouble to make them turn back last week. It was hard to see any broken tracks on the ice, so I have no clue exactly how close in to Buffalo they actually got but that stuff looked nasty out there.
The windmill project in Lackawanna seems to be pretty far behind schedule. Initial plans called for the entire operation to be up & running by December, but at this time only one of the windmill towers has its center hub installed with the blades still unattached. The rest of the towers are still receiving their riser tube sections.

Western Lake Erie - Erich Zuschlag
The Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon was heading East Sunday afternoon to an unknown destination.


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.


Canadian ship owners, builders make waves over import tariff

2/11- Toronto - Canadian ship owners and shipbuilders are gearing up for a political battle over scrapping the hefty tariff Ottawa has long slapped on imported foreign ships. The measure is on the table in free-trade negotiations between Canada and four European nations, as well as in similar talks with South Korea.

The Canadian Shipowners Association wants to convince the government to eliminate the 25-per-cent levy, arguing Canada's shipyards can't supply what they need.

Canadian ship makers are worried. They say dropping the tariff could kill their industry, which is one of the smallest in the Western world but still accounts for about 25 shipyards, 5,000 to 8,000 direct jobs, and 2,500 to 4,000 indirect jobs. "We really don't want to be just chopped off and left aside," said Peter Cairns, president of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada, which has about 20 members.

The ship owners call the tariff unfair. "The 25-per-cent duty doesn't discourage anyone from going offshore," said Don Morrison, president of the Shipowners Association. ". . . [Foreign-built ships] are still cheaper when we pay the 25-per-cent duty than if we had built them in Canada."

He represents Canadian-flagged vessels moving goods between ports in this country and to the United States. They want the Conservatives to scrap the tax within three years for new foreign ships, but keep it for second-hand vessels for a decade. Mr. Morrison said Canadian shipyards are too expensive. "Unless there are some drastic, drastic changes in terms of costing within Canadian shipyards, we can't afford to build [here]."

He said his membership needs to buy about $1.3-billion in ships over the next five years, mostly so-called "lakers" of up to 750 feet, as well as shorter-length tankers.

Mr. Morrison said removing the foreign ship duty will help ship owners remain competitive with foreign-flagged and U.S.-flagged vessels also plying local waters. The spinoff benefits could help other industries, said Mr. Morrison, whose members carry 70 per cent of goods passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway annually.

"If we can carry iron ore cheaply from Quebec to Hamilton, we can affect the price of steel production in Hamilton," Mr. Morrison said. "[Then] we don't have to import foreign steel, so the work is done in Hamilton rather than done in Germany somewhere."

The ship owners say they are asking Ottawa to retain a 25-per-cent duty on foreign refitting of ships to help domestic shipyards survive.

Mr. Cairns said slashing the foreign ship tariff is wrongheaded, adding that Ottawa needs to enact regulatory and tax changes that could boost demand for Canadian-made ships. "I don't believe any ship owner has sat down seriously and said 'I want to build ships here, and what can we do so we can build them in Canada,' " Mr. Cairns said.

Last fall, the Harper government quietly resumed long-stalled negotiations on a free-trade deal with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, four countries outside the European Union. The Tories are contemplating scrapping the tariff in the talks.

Norway is a significant shipbuilding power, and protecting Canadian shipyards is the issue that blocked the same trade talks from concluding six years ago under the former Liberal government.

One trade industry source familiar with the European Free Trade Association talks said a bright spot for shipbuilders might be that the deal would only affect civilian vessels, so Ottawa would be free to steer military contracts to Canadian shipyards.

From the Toronto Globe and Mail


Port Report - February 11

Milwaukee - John Vogel
Within the last week the tug Rebecca Lynn and its petroleum tank barge A-410 have joined those in the harbor for the winter lay-up. It is on the west wall of the inner harbor, immediately south of the Nidera Elevator and east of the 1000-footer Burns Harbor. Andrie also manages the tug G. L. Ostrander and barge Integrity and Samuel de Champlain/Innovation tug/barge combinations for the LaFarge Corp., both of which are also wintering in Milwaukee.


Updates - February 11

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Calendar of Events updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


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 a.) 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.


Plans for Buffalo Ethanol Plant Stir Pros and Cons

2/10 - Buffalo, NY - Debate over the proposed Ethanol Plant on the Buffalo River was starting to pick up steam during February. As the design presentations and permit process moved forward, public hearings were held with local media coverage. The high price of corn has also slowed down the effort to get things rolling at the site off Childs St.

Prep work continues on a daily basis at the Lake & Rail elevator and the former Con Agra Flour Mill building. Work crews are slowly reviving the Lake & Rail by restoring the building's mechanical systems while demolition crews are currently gutting the flourmill in preparation for demolition.

Plans to build an $80 million ethanol plant on the Buffalo River drew mixed reactions Tuesday from residents attending a public hearing on the facility. While some were encouraged by the jobs the plant would bring, others feared the potential for a catastrophic explosion at the proposed RiverWright Energy ethanol manufacturing plant and voiced concerns about pollution, odors, noise and rodent problems it could create.

"I don't want to move, but if this plant did come into the neighborhood . . . we would have to move," Maureen Cleary Schaeffer, a First Ward resident, said during the hearing sponsored by the Common Council's Legislation Committee. But Leonard Williams, a resident of the Perry Housing Projects, said that by turning down the project, the city would be sending the wrong message to others seeking to invest in and bring decent-paying manufacturing jobs to the area. "These are jobs that people in Buffalo Municipal Housing will have the opportunity to compete for," said Williams.

The proposed plant would sit on a 23-acre site along Childs Avenue. Council President David Franczyk and South Council Member Michael P. Kearns Monday had accepted an invitation from RiverWright Energy officials to tour an ethanol plant in Rosholt, S.D. Kearns said he was impressed with the safety steps at that plant but vowed the Council would not make a hasty decision about the suitability for such a plant on Buffalo's waterfront. "We're really taking a slow approach to looking at all the details of this project. It's a very cumbersome project with a lot of detail, with a lot things to learn about how ethanol is made," Kearns said Tuesday.

Franczyk said the safety of residents near the plant was his overriding concern. As for odor,he said the smells emanating from the Rosholt plant were not especially unpleasant. "The process was like fermented beer. It smelled like baking bread," he said.

Craig Slater, a lawyer representing RiverWright at Tuesday's hearing, stressed that the process of turning corn into an alternative fuel was not at all like a refinery.
"The No. 1 issue for an ethanol manufacturer is fire safety," Slater said. "There are significant differences between gasoline and ethanol. It's harder to ignite ethanol because the flashpoint is different [from gasoline's]."

However, Judith Einach, a former mayoral candidate and director of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes, insisted that an ethanol plant poses inherent dangers. "Since it takes so much fossil fuel to grow and transport corn, the alternative energy balance is zero or, at best, a very small net gain," Einach said.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski from the Buffalo News


Port Report - February 10

Ludington - The tug Mark Hannah and barge 6301 arrived at the Dow Chemical dock in the early afternoon Friday to load calcium chloride. The tug and barge had little trouble pushing through the 6 to 8 inch thick ice on Pere Marquette Lake. Loading is expected to take approximately 48 hours.


Fr. Peter Vander Linden Funeral Scheduled

2/10 - St. Clair, MI - Arrangements for Fr. Peter Vander Linden's funeral have been completed. Fr. Pete, who was well-known marine historian, died early Thursday in Port Huron Mercy Hospital.

Visitation will be at the Karrer-Simpson Funeral Home, 1720 Elk Street, Port Huron on Sunday from 4:00 to 8:00pm, and on Monday from 1:00 to 8:00pm. Telephone number: 810-985-9605

Funeral Service will be at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 811 Orchard Street, St. Clair beginning at 11:00am. There will be visitation prior to the service from 10:00 to 11:00am

Burial will be at St. Mary's Cemetery in St. Clair.


Updates - February 10

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Calendar of Events 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.


Heavy Ice on Lake Erie Stops Traffic

2/9 - St. Catharines - Heavy ice conditions on Lake Erie prevented a laker from reaching two U.S. ports with a load of road salt.

Wayne Hennessy, director of vessel operations with Seaway Marine Transport in St. Catharines,, says the Canadian Transport was headed back to Nanticoke after trying to reach Buffalo, N.Y. and Conneaut, Ohio. "We tried to access Buffalo a couple of days ago, but the heavy ice conditions made it impassable. We then tried to get into Conneaut, Ohio, but prudence dictated we not get too close there, so we decided to park the boat", says Hennessy.

Sam Babisky, superintendent of operations for Canadian Coast Guard in Sarnia, says the Canadian Transport had been under escort to Buffalo with the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Samuel Risley leading the way. Babisky says there was too much ice at Buffalo, which has a narrow channel, for the vessel to be brought in safely. "The pressure ridges there (at Buffalo) were too high."

Babisky says with ice pushed into the harbour at Buffalo it lowered the depth of the water and if the Canadian Transport had tried to make it in, the vessel could have become grounded. "If a vessel loses its inertia going through the ice, friction can become too great and stop the vessel", he says.

The Canadian Transport, part of Upper Lakes Shipping Group, originally started in the port of Goderich, where took on the load of road salt. Hennessy says the company's intention was to make one of the U.S. ports on the southern shore of Lake Erie with the load.

While the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway were closed to shipping at the end of December, shipping companies do work throughout the season, if possible. "This was normal winter operations", says Hennessy. He says the Canadian Transport will now lay-up for the winter in Nanticoke and won't be headed back out into Lake Erie until mid-March or April.

Babisky says shipping companies will operate throughout the winter season if possible. "Some vessels have been delayed and some companies will stop operating until the spring now."

Even with two Canadian Coast Guard ships, the Samuel Risley and Griffon, and the American Coast Guard vessel Hollyhock, operating on Lake Erie, Babisky says ice conditions are very heavy. The two coast guards share ice-breaking duties on the Great Lakes.

"Ice built up very rapidly on Lake Erie over the last seven to 10 days with below normal temperatures across the Great Lakes." "We've also had very strong and steady gale force winds, in the 40-knot range, that packed and pushed the ice up along the southern shore and eastern end of Lake Erie."

Babisky says the heavy ice conditions have affected the shipping ports of Buffalo and Cleveland, Ashtabula and Conneaut, Ohio.

Reported by Dave Johnson from the Welland Tribune


Port Report - February 9

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Joseph L. Block arrived Thursday before noon and finished tying alongside Wilfred Sykes. The Block turned stern first just outside the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal at first light and entered the canal with the assistance of the Selvick tug Jimmy L. They made their way through the channel to her tie-up south of the downtown Sturgeon Bay Highway Bridge. She is the last lay up scheduled for Bay Ship.


Transfer of 36th Lighthouse under 2000 Preservation Law;  Holland Harbor Lighthouse 12th in Michigan to Be Protected

2/9 - Washington-- Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that he recently signed official papers that will transfer Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light in Michigan to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission.

Dubbed “Big Red,” the fire-engine-colored lighthouse is a well known sight where Black Lake (Macatawa Lake) empties into Lake Michigan. In fact, its twin-gabled roof, reflecting the Dutch influence in the city of Holland, Mich., makes it as much of an icon as the city’s windmills and tulips.

With today's announcement, Holland Harbor will become the 36th lighthouse the department and its National Park Service have protected by recommending it for transfer from the U.S. Coast Guard to other agencies and nonprofits under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

The Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission has cared for the lighthouse since the Coast Guard announced plans to abandon it in the 1970's.

“The Department of the Interior commends the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission for its three decades of stewardship for this lighthouse,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “Partnerships like this one are protecting lighthouses from coast to coast. They are the best way to preserve our history and build our future.”

This lighthouse joins a colorful group of lighthouses on the West and East coasts and in the Great Lakes region—ranging from Sentinel Light in Alaska to St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida to Sturgeon Point Light in Michigan. In fact, 12 of the 36 lighthouses are in Michigan. (See the list at end of this release.)

The Holland Harbor Light, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has played an integral part in the city’s history. When seeking a location for settlement in 1847, the Reverend A. C. Van Raalte and his Dutch emigrant followers were attracted by the potential of Black Lake as a harbor. The first lighthouse built at this location was a wooden structure constructed in 1872. The present structure was erected in 1907 and “Big Red” was automated in 1932. When the Coast Guard recommended that it be closed, citizens organized the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission to preserve and restore the historic landmark. The commission has been operating it under a Coast Guard lease.

Like other lighthouses around the country, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse was no longer wanted by the Coast Guard after the fading of commercial boat traffic and automation. A number of other lighthouses, not as well known as Big Red, were headed for abandonment or surplus.

In 2000, however, enactment of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act provided a new way to protect such lighthouses by enabling the Department of the Interior to recommend the transfer of historic lighthouses (at no cost) to federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations and community development organizations.

The law places preservation of the historic light station first. In cooperation with the Coast Guard and the General Services Administration, the department and its National Park Service are working to find the best stewards for long-term preservation of lighthouses.

Nearly 300 lighthouses nationwide have been identified as eligible for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, so the Secretary will be considering applications for new ownership of other lighthouses in the future.

For more information about the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and these lighthouses, application deadlines, eligibility and other information, go to  or email .

The Department of the Interior has recommended the lighthouses on the accompanying list for transfer since 2002; some have already been transferred and others are still in process. (Note-Only Great Lakes lighthouse were reprinted here.)

Charlevoix South Pierhead Light - to the City of Charlevoix; Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse - to the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers; Detour Reef Light - to the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society; Fort Gratiot Light Station - to the City of Port Huron; Gull Rock Light - to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy; Harbor Beach Lighthouse - to the City of Harbor Beach; Holland Harbor Lighthouse – to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission; Ludington North Breakwater Light - to the City of Ludington; Manitou Island Light - to the Keweenaw Land Trust; Munising Station Front and Rear Range Lights - to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; St. James (Beaver Harbor) Light - to St. James Township; and Sturgeon Point Light – to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Alcona Historical Society

New York
Esopus Meadows Lighthouse - to Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, Inc., and Rondout Creek Light - to the City of Kingston, New York

Ashtabula Harbor Light - to the Ashtabula Lighthouse Restoration and Preservation Society, and Toledo Harbor Lighthouse - to the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Society

USDoI News Release


Dennis Hale Raising Funds for Ashtabula Lighthouse

2/9 - Ashtabula - Dennis Hale, sole survivor of the sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell, has 100 copies of the Limited Edition of Steamboat Bill magazine that features a Daniel J. Morrell article and photos.

Dennis will mail these out on a first come, first serve basis, signed for $12.00 + $2.00 S/H.

Twenty percent of all sales will go to support the Ashtabula Lighthouse Society, a nonprofit organization. The group just received the keys for the Ashtabula Lighthouse and hope to start work on restoration and preservation this summer.

Dennis may be reached for a issue hold at, His mailing address is P.O. Box 104, Rock Creek OH, 44084.


False Pictures and Videos Circulating

2/9 - Recently, some pictures of a ferry, in rough seas, were posted on the Boatnerd News. The pictures were incorrectly identified as the Newfoundland ferry M/V Caribou. Marine Atlantic, the operators of the Caribou, report it is not a Marine Atlantic vessel and that the video clip was taken in 2002 in the Cooks Strait off the islands of New Zealand.

Please do not send any more copies to Boatnerd News.


Updates - February 9

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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. She was built for the Hall Corp. of Canada in 1957 at Grangemouth, Scotland as a.) EAGLESCLIFFE HALL, renamed b.) EAGLESCLIFFE in 1973.

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.


Minntac shuts down pellet line

2/8 - Duluth - An iron ore pellet-production line has been idled at U.S. Steel’s Minntac Mine in Mountain Iron to meet current demands for iron ore.

Minntac’s Line three, the oldest of four pellet-production lines at the Iron Range taconite plant, will remain down without a timeline for restart, according to John Armstrong, U.S. Steel spokesman. The production lines produce iron-bearing pellets that are turned into steel at U.S. Steel’s domestic steelmaking facilities.

Although two blast furnaces are being restarted at U.S. Steel steelmaking facilities, the restarts are included in the company’s projections for pellet demand, said Armstrong.

Reported by Al Miller from the Duluth News Tribune


DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society Schedules St. Marys River Cruise

2/7 - Drummond Island, MI - DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS) invites you and your family to join them on their tenth annual cruise up the beautiful and historic St. Mary’s River scheduled for Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17, 2007.

The entertaining and educational day trip will depart from DeTour Village in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

For additional information Click here


Father Peter Vander Linden Passes

2/8 - 10:00am - Port Huron - Fr. Peter J. Vander Linden passed away peacefully early Thursday morning at Port Huron Mercy Hospital due to respiratory failure.

He made a valiant effort to recover from his injuries but it was not to be. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time, but will posted as soon as the information is available.

Reported by David Michelson


Updates - February 8

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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.


Dredging Crisis Limits Iron Ore Rebound

2/7 - Cleveland---Millions of tons of iron ore failed to move on the Great Lakes in 2006 because ports and waterways have not been dredged to project dimensions. Month after month, vessels were unable to load to their designed capacity. As a result, shipments were held to 60.4 million net tons.

In total, 2006 loadings were up 3.7 percent from 2005, but that includes a 1.1-million-ton increase in shipments from St. Lawrence Seaway ports that are much less impacted by the dredging crisis. (The maximum draft in the Seaway is only 26’ 06”.)

Shipments from U.S. ports increased only 2.2 percent.

Most iron ore cargos loaded at U.S. Great Lakes ports transit the St. Marys River and the largest U.S.-Flag Lakers are designed to load to drafts of 28 feet or more. However, by year’s end, draft restrictions in the St. Marys River were forcing vessels to light load by nearly 2 feet. For 1,000-foot-long vessels, forfeiting 2 feet of loaded draft trims as much as 6,400 tons of iron ore from their payload. Mid-sized vessels delivering iron ore to steel mills along industrial rivers lose nearly 3,000 tons of cargo each trip when forced to reduce loaded draft by 2 feet.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 18 American corporations that operate 63 U.S.-Flag vessels on the Great Lakes. These vessels carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: Iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, limestone and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation.... Collectively, these vessels can transport as much as 125 million tons of cargo a year when high water levels offset the lack of adequate dredging of Great Lakes ports and waterways.

More information is available at

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association


Municipalities Reassured About Dredging Funds,
but No Guarantees Given

2/7 - Ludington - Officials from harbor towns across west Michigan gathered Monday in Muskegon to discuss dredging issues with U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland.

Going into the meeting, the officials were worried they might not have funds appropriated in the federal budget to perform the dredging in 2007. After the meeting, commercial harbor officials were at least somewhat optimistic they would be given priority in the coming year. “We know that there’s uncertainty out there, and the Corps doesn’t know how much money it will have,” Hoekstra said. “There’s a lot of talking going on and I thought it would be helpful to get everybody in a meeting and talk about it.”

Manistee had funds appropriated, but taken off the table for this year. Now, Manistee City Manager Mitch Deisch is optimistic the funds will be appropriated. “We were informed (Monday) that there is a good chance the Army Corps of Engineers out of Detroit has shifted funds to dredge Manistee harbor this year, but we’ll have to wait until the federal budget is approved,” Deisch said. “But it is scheduled for the upcoming year.” “The Corps made it clear yesterday that they thought there was going to be money for Manistee,” Hoekstra said.

Manistee harbor has traditionally been dredged every three years, Deisch said, and if the dredging doesn’t take place this year, it would be the first time the cycle was broken. The dredging comes at a cost of approximately $500,000 to $600,000 each cycle.

“We have some shoaling occurring along the north pier, where there’s 70-80,000 cubic yards of shoaling material slowly pinching off the harbor, or rapidly pinching off the harbor, if you’re a freighter captain,” Deisch said. “It’s that shoaling we’re working to dredge. There’s no question that the Corps fully understands the issue at hand and that they’re the most effective in removing the material. It’s a simple matter of not having enough funding.

“They understand that there’s a problem and we’re going to work with everyone to solve the problem,” Deisch said. “It’s time to get busy, roll up the sleeves and solve the problem.”

Commercial harbors
John Shay, Ludington’s city manager, said the dredging issue amounted to demand for funds outpacing available resources. “They indicated it was the familiar problem of a lot of needs, but not a lot of federal funding,” Shay said. “I took it to be more of an educational session — here’s how the funding cycle works; here’s how we determine our priorities. But we have to continue to have ongoing talks with our legislators to secure funding.”

As commercial harbors, Ludington and Manistee might have a better chance of getting federal dredging funding versus recreational harbors, “but even then, funding is always a significant challenge — even for the commercial harbors,” Shay said. A commercial harbor is “somewhat defined as providing shipping for 1 million tons of cargo per year or more,” Shay said.

Pentwater, a recreational harbor, has a different situation than Ludington. “We’ve heard out of the administration that recreational harbors are not a priority, but there’s been a lot of input from Congress that recreational harbors are a priority for us,” Hoekstra said. Pentwater harbor has been dredged yearly for the last few years, according to Pentwater Village Manager Tim Taylor. The harbor was dredged in 2006 at a cost of $70,000 in federal funds.

Taylor said the meeting was “interesting and informative, to say the least.” “There are still questions about who will and will not be dredged,” Taylor said, “but I’m as optimistic as I can be. “They gave us that we’re on the list. They were saying confidence was high, but not infallible. There were no guarantees.”

Taylor said the recreational harbor at the outlet of Pentwater Lake is the Oceana County town’s “lifeblood” and a key factor in Pentwater’s economy. “People come in on boats or have boats here — they are our commerce. That is our industrial park.” Taylor said Pentwater will receive final word in spring whether the dredging will take place. If dredging is to occur in 2007, he expects officials from the Army Corps of Engineers to be in town to test the harbor depths sometime in April.

The U.S. House passed the budget spending bill and the Senate should be looking at the bill in the next week or so, according to Hoekstra. “It is our hope that we would have the spending bill for the rest of the year on the president’s desk by February 15,” Hoekstra said.

No local money is used in dredging Pentwater’s harbor. Taylor said it would be impossible for such a small town like Pentwater to raise that amount of money to do the dredging themselves.

Even for a city the size of Ludington, self-funding harbor dredging would be difficult, according to officials. “Essentially, we don’t have the funds necessary to do dredging on our own,” Shay said. “The city spends $30,000 per year to dredge Loomis Street boat launch. It would be difficult for us to start paying a significant portion of the cost (of dredging the harbor). We’re still a commercial harbor and would expect the corps to do it.”

Shay said the audience at the meeting was given assurances that all of the Michigan delegation in Washington supported the dredging of Great Lakes ports. “All of the Michigan congressmen and senators realize this is important to our community’s economy and to Michigan’s economy,” Shay said.

Keeping Ludington harbor open is important for businesses that ship via the Great Lakes. One such company is Dow Chemical’s calcium chloride business. At least one barge per week ships out calcium chloride to other states and off to the Atlantic Ocean. “One-third of our liquid calcium chloride is shipped via water … on lake barges,” said Bill Berrett, general manager of the calcium chloride operation in Ludington. “The current draft allows the lake barges to move well, but if sand builds up in the harbor, it would be a problem.

“(Shipping) is a key part of our operations.” Berrett, who said he didn’t want to reveal the tonnage of materials shipped out of Ludington, said Dow in the past has brought in ocean barges — which have a “significantly higher draft” — and any failure to dredge the harbor would limit the use of such ocean-going vessels.

From the Ludington Daily News


Water levels Hovering Near Record Lows

2/7 - Houghton - Lake Superior water levels are approaching record lows.

Superior’s average lake level for January was 600.1 feet above sea level according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That’s only about four inches higher than the record-low January of 1926, when lake levels averaged 599.8 feet above sea level.

Lake levels have been below the long-term average, 601.5 feet, for some time. “We’re at 1.4 feet below that,” Carl Woodruff said. “It’s almost 17 inches.”
Woodruff is a hydrologic engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit. “Starting in September of 2006 is when it really started to go down to those near-record lows,” he said.

Drought in the Lake Superior basin is the main cause of the low lake levels. Those drought conditions persist, according to forecaster Kevin Krupi of the National Weather Service in Marquette. “The western U.P., they are in severe drought and (there has been) extreme droughting in the Minnesota arrowhead,” Crupi said.
Northeast Minnesota and southwest Ontario, which is also currently experiencing extreme drought, represent a major portion of the collection basin for Lake Superior, Crupi said.

In the Upper Peninsula, drought was particularly acute in the second half of 2006. “At the Houghton County Airport, your normal for June 1st to Dec. 31st is 20.90 inches,” Crupi said. “Observed precipitation during that time has been 16.65 inches.” The record low precipitation for that period at the airport was 13.38 inches in 1962. Last year’s June-to-December precipitation is the 11th-driest on record.

This year’s mild winter, with accompanying lack of ice cover over Superior, is the other factor driving lake levels down. “In the wintertime now we don’t have any ice cover to speak of and when that happens we’ve got open water and we get a lot of evaporation under those conditions,” Woodruff said.

Cold, dry air moving in over the relatively-warm Lake Superior speeds evaporation. “It’s like sucking the water out through a straw,” Woodruff said.

From the Marquette Mining Journal


Criminal Charges Brought in Ethan Allen Sinking

2/7 - Queensbury, N.Y. — A grand jury has brought criminal charges against the owner of a cruise line and the captain of a boat that capsized in October 2005 in upstate New York. The accident killed 20 elderly tourists; 19 were from southeast Michigan.

Shoreline Cruises and Capt. Richard Paris both are charged with failing to have enough crew members aboard the Ethan Allen tour boat when it flipped over in Lake George on Oct. 2, 2005, sending a boatload of people into the chilly water. Paris was the only crew member aboard. State navigation law required at least two for the 47 passengers on board that day.

The day was clear and sunny, but investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said they believe the 40-foot boat was rocked by a wake from a passing boat, or multiple boats. The federal board concluded last summer that the boat was dangerously unstable and should have carried only a quarter of the passengers onboard.

The Ethan Allen was certified to carry 48 passengers plus two crew, according to weight limits that have since been modified. There were 48 people on the boat when it capsized, but federal investigators said the boat should not have been certified to carry that many people. Passenger capacity for the boat was calculated when it was manufactured in 1966, but modifications over the years made it less stable and capacity should have been changed to 14 people, the NTSB reported.

Nine lawsuits have been filed in federal court by survivors and victims’ families against the boat operator, tour organizers and others.

From the Detroit Free Press


Icebreaker Film Debuts Friday

2/7 - Cheboygan, MI - The world premiere of a Public Broadcasting System film is set for Friday in the town known for being home to the two largest icebreakers to work the Great Lakes. “Breaking Ice” will debut at 7:00 p.m. Friday at the Cheboygan Opera House. There is no admission charge and the show is open to the public.

Just when you think about every angle has been covered in telling the story of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw - books, television specials and other DVD's for sale on the subject of the old retired ship and the newly commissioned icebreaker - along comes this version underwritten by Acheson Ventures, a Port Huron, Mich., development company.

A crew of three professional television producers spent months collecting footage, interviews and history of the original Mackinaw and the new one. Videographer Mike Shamus, sound technician Tom Moore and writer/editor Chris Benjamin went on board both ships to video actual icebreaking in Whitefish Bay and the St. Mary's River. “We wanted to tell the definitive story of the Mackinaw,” said Benjamin. “So many people have such a great love for that ship. We wanted to bring out the mission using the best audio and video technology available.”

An advance copy of the presentation reveals a true life-like look at both versions of the Mackinaw with plenty of insight from officers and crewmembers. Included are icebreaking scenes shot from the ships, the ice, aerials and even from other vessels, giving perspectives never before seen or heard.

“We used the best camera and gear on the market and I think it shows in the finished product,” said Shamus, who shot most of the material and will attend the Cheboygan premiere. “I can't wait to see this sort of quality on the Opera House screen, I guarantee people will be amazed. It's going to have a high-definition effect that will really make them feel like they are there on the ships.”

Indeed the group's use of technology makes this version of the Mac's last year an outstanding visual experience. Benjamin's well-written script is edited in a way that gives it a network-quality look, weaving the stories of the two ships together and contrasting the crews of each to show the succession of duties between old and new.

Still photos are introduced to provide the original ship's history and also included are the new ship's launching and segments from last summer's decommissioning/commissioning ceremonies. Particularly effective is the touch given to the last bells of the old Mackinaw and the playing of “Taps,” sure to bring a tear to the eyes of those who loved the giant icebreaker. Sounds and video captured during the icebreaking and ice-liberty scenes are so realistic they might require viewers to wear a heavy coat to ward off the cold Lake Superior winds.

Equally amazing is the inside look at the technology used on the new Mackinaw, with rare footage that takes viewers below decks, on the bridge and in front of the computer and video monitors used to operate and navigate the ship. Not many people have seen what the film brings to the audience.

Masterfully narrated by Mort Crim, the hour-long program is slated for viewing on PBS stations around the Great Lakes, beginning with Detroit late in February. Copies of the program on DVD will be available following the showing.

By Mike Fornes for the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Updates - February 7

News Photo Gallery updated

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Today in Great Lakes History - February 07

In 1977, Interlake Steamship Company completed its latest season when the MESABI MINER entered lay up.

The HURON (Hull#132) was launched February 7, 1914, at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for Wyandotte Transportation Co. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1973.

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, Russ Plumb, 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.


Updates - February 6

News Photo Gallery updated

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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.


Port Reports - February 5

Indiana Harbor - Tom T.
After unloading in Indiana Harbor on Saturday, Wilfred Sykes looked like she was going to KCBX to load coal.

Detroit River - David Cozens & Kevin Sprague
Early Sunday morning the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Griffon departed its dock in Windsor and headed downbound conducting ice observations and track maintenance. The Griffon headed down the Livingstone Channel and turned around at Bar Point Pier Light in Lake Erie before going up the Amherstburg Channel. The Griffon conducted ice breaking duties for the Boblo Island car ferry which travels back and fourth between Amherstburg and the island in the Detroit River. The Griffon then tied up at the Amherstburg Coast Guard Base.

Western Lake Erie - Erich Zuschlag & Kevin Sprague
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley was conducting an ice escort for the Canadian Transport downbound in the Detroit River Sunday afternoon. The vessels were making good progress as they passed the Bar Point Pier Light in the Western Basin of Lake Erie. The Risley provided an ETA of 7:10 p.m. for Southeast Shoal. Due to strong winds the west end of Lake Erie has an ice pressure warning in effect.

St. Marys River - Cathy Kohring
The Neah Bay was secured for the night at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the DeTour Coal Dock (aka Interlake Steamship Co Dock). She will be heading out at 7 a.m. Monday morning to escort the Algosar up the river to the Sault. The Algosar is making 9 knots and was expected to arrive at the DeTour Light at 9 p.m. Sunday night, where she will be directed to proceed through the ice channel to Sweets Island area to hove to in the ice for the night. Both will then proceed Monday morning to the Sault.


Heritage Canada Foundation Pushing Federal Act to Preserve Lighthouses

2/5 - Ottawa - The Heritage Canada Foundation is lobbying to have the Canadian Parliament adopt Bill S-220, An Act to protect heritage lighthouses, to a means for the Government of Canada to examine, recognize, protect and maintain a highly significant group of heritage structures. Binding, legal protection for designated heritage lighthouses is absolutely essential.

The Heritage Canada Foundation is a national organization and registered charity created in 1973 by the Government of Canada to preserve heritage places and to encourage all Canadians to recognize, understand and care for the built heritage of Canada. One of the essential roles of the Heritage Canada Foundation is to work with government at all levels to secure programs, policies and legislation for heritage property in Canada. In 1988, for example, the Heritage Canada Foundation served an important role in the adoption of the federal Act to protect heritage railway stations.

In their statement to the Fisheries and Oceans Committee, the group noted that " It is important to stress that the all provincial and territorial jurisdictions and, by delegated authority, all municipal governments in Canada have binding heritage statutes and related legal measures, such as covenants and easements, to protect and guide the management of heritage property". "Bill S-220 provides a systematic and legally binding mechanism for the recognition, protection, maintenance and possible disposal of heritage lighthouses".

It is important to stress that the all provincial and territorial jurisdictions and, by delegated authority, all municipal governments in Canada have binding heritage statutes and related legal measures, such as covenants and easements, to protect and guide the management of heritage property.

Current examples of lighthouses in need of attention, listed by the Foundation are three in Nova Scotia: Cape Sable Lighthouse, Sambro Island Gas House, and Seal Island Lighthouse, plus Estevan Point, in British Columbia.


Father Peter Vander Linden Improving

2/5 - Port Huron - Fr. Pete has been discharged and moved from Port Huron Mercy Hospital to the Medilodge Center in Richmond, Michigan. We could not get a bed for him in the immediate Port Huron area.

His condition is about the same, mostly unresponsive and very weak. His vital signs continue to be good and that is a good sign.

If you wish to send a card or visit him, the address is: Room121, Medilodge of Richmond, 34901 Division Street, Richmond, MI 48062. Telephone number is 586-727-7562.

Reported by David Michelson


Trip Raffle to Benefit BoatNerd

Through the generosity of the Interlake Steamship Co., BoatNerd is offering the chance to win a four-six-day trip for four to take place during the 2007 sailing season (between the months of June and September) on the winner's choice of the classic Lee. A. Tregurtha or the Queen of the Lakes Paul R. Tregurtha.

The trip is the Grand Prize of BoatNerd¹s first ever raffle and fundraising event. Other prizes will also be given away.

All proceeds from this raffle will benefit Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, the non-profit support organization for the BoatNerd.Com Web site. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation. Funds raised will be used to upgrade our equipment, expand our services and pay monthly Internet connection charges.

The drawing will take place at 2 p.m. on June 2, 2007 at the BoatNerd.Com World Headquarters in Port Huron, Mich.

Donation: $10 per ticket, 3 for $25, 6 for $50 or 12 for $100.

Click here to order, or for more information. Tickets are also available by mail, or in person at BoatNerd World Headquarters in Port Huron.


Updates - February 5

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


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 old 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.


LST Group Looking for Auction Items

2/4 - Muskegon - Later this month, the LST-393 Preservation Association will hold a consignment auction aboard the World War II tank landing ship to raise money for its continued restoration. That means the group not only needs people to come and buy, but things to sell them.

For the next month, the association is looking for good quality items to sell at the Feb. 17 fundraiser -- military gear, nautical items, antiques, World War II memorabilia, sporting goods, wildlife art, and services like fishing charters and hunting trips.

Under the ground rules of the auction, conducted by Tripp Auction Services, 50 percent of the purchase price, plus a tax-deductible receipt, goes back to the seller. The association pops the other half into its LST-393 Preservation Fund. The group hopes to raise between $5,000 and $10,000 at next month's auction.

Dan Weikel, the 15-member association's president, is urging people to start cleaning their attics, basements and garages in preparation. "We'll take anything that will sell," Weikel said. Any unsold items may be claimed by the owner, Weikel said, or the association will dispose of them if the owner requests.

Docked at the Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake, the ship itself is one of the biggest pieces of World War II memorabilia in existence. It took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, near the end of the war, among several other campaigns.

Through various fundraising efforts, including tours, reunions, special events, Friday night "Movies on Deck," and eventually overnight stays, the association is looking to raise up to $100,000 this year to keep the restoration going. Its ultimate goal is to open the bow doors to visitors as a floating military museum.

From the Muskegon Chronicle


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.


Board Reduces Lake Superior Outflow for February

2/3 - Cleveland - The International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission, has set the Lake Superior outflow to 1,380 cubic metres per second (m 3 /s) (48.7 thousand cubic feet per second (tcfs)) for the month of February. This is the outflow recommended by the regulation plan for the month of February and is a decrease from the January outflow which was 1,520 m 3 /s (53.7 tcfs).

The February outflow will be released by discharging about 1,286 m 3 /s (45.4 tcfs) through the three hydropower plants and passing most of the remaining flow through the control structure at the head of the St. Marys rapids. The gate setting of the control structure will be maintained at the existing setting equivalent to one-half gate open (four gates open 25 cm, or about 10 inches each). There will be no change to the setting of Gate #1 that supplies the Fishery Remedial Works.

This past month the water supply to the Lake Superior basin was well below its long-term average for January, while the supply to the Lakes Michigan-Huron basin was above its January average. The levels of Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan-Huron remain below their chart datum levels. The level of Lake Superior is expected to continue to decline during the next couple of months, while that of Lakes Michigan-Huron is expected to remain about the same.

Currently, the Lake Superior level is about 45 cm (18 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-February level, and is 35 cm (14 inches) below the level recorded a year ago. This past month the level of Lake Superior fell by about 10 cm (4 inches), while on average it falls by 7 cm (3 inches) in January. The last time Lake Superior was lower at this time of year was in February 1926.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron fell by 1 cm (1/2 inch) this January, while on average the level of these lakes decline by about 3 cm (1 inch) in January. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is now about 33 cm (13 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-February level, but is 6 cm (2 inches) higher than a year ago.

The Board continues to monitor conditions both on Lake Superior and downstream and will advise the International Joint Commission accordingly on those conditions. Brigadier General Bruce A. Berwick, Commander, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is the United States Board Member. Mr. Carr McLeod is the Board Member for Canada.

Additional information can be found on the Internet at: or, at

From the US Army Corps of Engineers


Buffalo Port Activity Increasing

2/3 - Buffalo, NY - The Port of Buffalo has enticed ships to unload so many heavy piles of salt, coal, gravel and windmill blades that the it won an award last year from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The port, now owned by Pennsylvania-based New Enterprise Stone & Lime, may win another wall plaque from the DOT’s St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. this year: Its coal unloadings alone went up dramatically, from 180,000 tons in 2005 to 440,000 in 2006. “We’re always looking for more,” said James Yamonaco, port director. “We’d like to increase our tonnage. That would put more people to work.” As the man in charge of recruiting new business, Yamonaco hopes to get word this spring about whether the port won yet another heavy contract. He bid for on a 5-year deal to unload 500,000 tons of steel a year from ships from Brazil. A port crew of 20 would join the 15 already working and load the metal onto trains bound for their West Virginia steel plant buyer.

Ships bring in coal from the Canadian side of Lake Superior, limestone from Michigan, windmill blades from Brazil and Ford plant stamping machines from Germany. T h e y pull into the port’s canal-like trough that pokes into the old Bethlehem Steel plant grounds, and is wide enough for two side-by-side ships. “We can accommodate probably six vessels,” Yamonaco said. He spoke from his office in a three-room construction trailer with views of gravel piles amid Bethlehem’s old brick buildings.

In the early 1980s, Buffalo Crushed Stone bought 152 acres of the old factory land in Lackawanna between Route 5 and the lake shore. It named the area the Gateway Trade Center, rented buildings to industrial tenants and opened the Port of Buffalo inside.

In 2000, New Enterprise bought Buffalo Crushed Stone — a stone, sand and gravel seller with offices on Clinton Street — along with the port and trade center. To explain the center and its mix of decaying empty buildings, a newer corrugated metal one and reused old brick ones, Yamonaco got in his car and drove around “It’s interesting to come in and look,” said Yamonaco. “For somebody driving by here, you have no idea what goes on in the back.”

Piles of gravel stood near his trailer office. On the other side of the slip, there are defunct smoke stacks and the steel plant’s old coke ovens, which are not owned by New Enterprise An old brick building once used for maintenance of steel plant rail cars is now leased by Ferrous Mfg., which makes safety rails and other industrial pieces from steel piping Another long brick building, once the plant’s ladle house for fixing giant bowls used for melting steel, now holds New Enterprise’s Buffalo Redi-Mix concrete factory, another subsidiary

The subsidiaries would like even more space. Gateway Trade Center has been thinking about building a new office near the old Bethlehem corporate offices. For many years the firm has been talking to Lackawanna officials about getting money to help fix up or tear down the brick building with elegant round windows and collapsing roof.

Yamonaco could use more room to store piles of gravel and salt. “We’d like to expand a little bit,” he said. “There’s a lot of acreage for sale near Route 5. It’s a lot bigger than you think.”

Reported by Brian Wroblewski from the Buffalo News


Port Reports - February 3

Goderich - Dale Baechler & Jacob Smith
CCGS Griffon entered the channel and inner harbour at 10:00am Friday morning for ice breaking duties. At 1:00pm, Canadian Transport headed to the new harbour, backed around into the channel and went to the Sifto Salt dock to load. She was tied up at 3:15pm. This may be the last load out for the 2006 shipping season.

Milwaukee - John Vogel
Sometime within the last three days, the Samuel de Champlain and its barge Innovation arrived for its winter lay-up. The tug/barge combination is in the inner harbor and nestled in between its sister vessel G.L. Ostrander/Integrity to the north, and the 1000-footer Burns Harbor to the south.

Detroit River - Kevin Sprague
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley conducted track maintenance and ice condition surveillance in the Detroit River and East Outer Channel in the western basin of Lake Erie Friday. The Risley reported that large plates of ice were present in the East Outer Channel and also reported that some small ice ridges had formed in the channel. The Risley then turned around and headed back upbound in the Detroit River through the Livingstone Channel.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The Soderholm tug Diver III and it's barge got stuck in the harbor ice yesterday while trying to move from the west end to the east end. They had to back out of the pack and go out and around the island to get to their berth.
The firetug Wm. Lyon Mackenzie has been out breaking up the harbor ice and keeping a track open to Ward's Island for the ferry Ongiara.


Updates - February 3

News Photo Gallery updated

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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.


New Woes Expected to Extend Shutdown of Toledo Bridge

2/2 - Toledo - Cracked concrete found inside at least one of the structures supporting the draw spans on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge has cast into doubt the bridge's Feb. 16 reopening to traffic, city officials said yesterday.

The discovery was made during demolition work to prepare the bridge to receive new draw spans and occurred on the first day of what was hoped would be an 18-day closure. The shutdown was necessary to allow removal of old draw spans and installation of two new draw span sections - enough to restore two-way traffic over the Maumee River.

Exactly how much more time will be needed was unknown yesterday. "It's safe to say it will be longer than 18 days" to reopen the bridge to traffic, said Bill Franklin, the city's director of public service. While the concrete problem is not believed to be catastrophic, it will lengthen the time needed to reshape the counterweight chambers so the replacement draw spans will fit properly, Mr. Franklin said. "We're not tearing piers down, we're just removing bad concrete and replacing it," he said.

Mr. Franklin said an engineer from the Kansas City office of HNTB, the engineering firm that designed the draw span replacement project, flew into Toledo yesterday to assess the situation. "We're hoping to keep it within days [instead of weeks], but that's all speculative," said David Welch, the city commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor. "It's going to take a little bit to figure out where we're at."

Mr. Franklin said it also is too soon to know how much the unexpected concrete work will increase the cost of the bridge project. The current project began in the summer of 2004 and has cost about $40 million. A previous phase took about 2 1/2 years and cost another $10 million.

As originally scheduled, the bridge closing conflicted with a Toledo Storm home game at the Sports Arena last night and special events that are planned there during the next two weekends. Extending it will disrupt traffic to two more Storm games - on Feb. 16 and 17 - and could interfere with the Disney on Ice show scheduled for the arena from Feb. 21-25.

Gary Wyse, the Sports Arena's general manager, was stoic about the situation, remarking that renovating a 97-year-old bridge is a project that was fraught with uncertainty from the day it began back in October, 2001. "When you're remodeling an old house and peeling back the layers, you don't know what you're going to find. I've done that three times, so I know what it's like," Mr. Wyse said. "I'm as disappointed as everyone else, but it didn't surprise me," said Tom Cousino, owner of several restaurants in The Docks complex across Main Street in International Park. "It's not the end of the world. It's not the only bridge in town."

Kristin Cousino, the streets division's project engineer, said she and other city officials are just as frustrated about the delay as the merchants and motorists affected by the bridge closing. "There's not a whole lot we can do about it except move as quickly as possible," Ms. Cousino said. "The last thing we want to do is go without a bridge for a whole year." The "whole year" alludes to a March 15 Coast Guard deadline to reopen the bridge to Maumee River traffic.

Should the bridge's draw spans not be operational by that date, the city could be forced to leave them in the raised position to allow river traffic or pay a $20,000 daily fine for delays. Mr. Franklin said city officials believe the March 15 deadline is not in danger, "but we'll negotiate with [the Coast Guard] if we have to."

The draw span replacement already is a year late because of a design error that delayed fabrication of the new bridge components. The city has filed a lawsuit against HNTB and the project contractor, National Engineering, in an effort to recover delay-related costs.

During the King Bridge closing, motorists can detour across the Anthony Wayne (High Level) and Craig Memorial bridges. The latter is possible through reopening of the Summit Street entrance ramp to southbound I-280 and a lane closing on southbound I-280 there to allow for the traffic merging onto the expressway.

From the Toledo Blade


Port Report - February 2

Detroit River - Kevin Sprague
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon was upbound at the Detroit River light, on Thursday, providing ice breaking assistance for the the Canadian Transport. Both vessels were making good progress as they passed through the Livingston Channel. The Transport is scheduled to lay up in Sarnia.


Marine Community Day in Cleveland Feb. 28

2/2 - The annual Great Lakes Marine Community Day is set for Cleveland Feb. 28.

Held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the conference, "Maximizing the Value of Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping", includes a series of panels addressing such topics as homeland security, ballast water management and navigation services.

The event opens the day before with an Admiral's Dinner at 7:00 p.m., February 27.

For more information, call 800-491-1760 or e-mail or their website at


Job Opening at The Great Lakes Towing Company

2/2 - Cleveland - The Great Lakes Towing Company is now accepting applications for Operations Dispatchers. If interested, please download their application here, attach a resume, and submit to:
Edward C. Hertz, Operations Manager, The Great Lakes Towing Company, 4500 Division Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44102-2228 Email:

Job Title: Dispatcher / Operations Coordinator
General Job Description:
Schedule and coordinate flow of work. Dispatch tugboats to guide ships entering or leaving port and to tow barges. Select and schedule crews for tugboats and barges. Maintains records and prepares bills for services. May notify captain of tugboat of order changes via telephone or radio. May dispatch crews to tugboats to respond to emergency requests from captain. Track company and crew performance activities, and safety statistics.

Representative Duties:
Schedules and coordinates flow of work based on customer orders, establishes priorities and availability of personnel, equipment, and resources. Ensure tugs and barges are properly crewed and operated. Maintain records and prepare bills for services. Develop and monitor procedures and programs to track company and crew activities.

Skill and Abilities:
Computer Skills: Word, Excel, Access, Web-based Knowledge of maritime industry.
Ability to deal with others using courtesy, tact, and good judgment.
Maintain the confidentiality of all sensitive communications.
Ability to understand and execute complex oral and written instructions.
Ability to work independently with minimal or no guidance.
Ability to get along with office staff and vessel crew members.

Equipment and Machinery Used:
Computer, Fax Machine, Copier, Telephone, Radio Telephone

Job Conditions:
Once training is completed scheduled dispatchers work twelve (12) hour shifts, 3.5 to 4 days per week. Day Operations Dispatchers work 0600-1800 and evening Operations Dispatchers work 1800-0600.

Work Experience, Education, and Training:
Maritime experience, military experience, dispatcher experience, and/or four-year college education or equivalent experience.

From Great Lakes Towing Co.


Updates - February 2

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 02
complied by Mike Nicholls

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.


Milwaukee Grain Shipments up 85% in 2006

2/1 - Milwaukee - Benefiting from a near-doubling of grain shipments, the Port of Milwaukee moved 3.8 million tons of cargo last year, up slightly from 2005.

The dry bulk cargo that is the port's mainstay - things such as road salt, cement and coal - dropped 8%, but was more than offset by gains in other categories, particularly grain. Grain shipments jumped 85%, from 310,000 tons in 2005 to 573,000 tons last year.

General cargo such as machinery and steel rose 7%, to 429,000 tons. Liquid bulk cargo also rose 7%, to 125,000 tons. Dry bulk cargo fell from 2.9 million tons in 2005 to 2.7 million tons last year.

The 3.83 million tons of total cargo was up 1.7%, from 3.77 tons in 2005.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Spying on Ghosts
Team uses sonar to pinpoint shipwrecks in Lake Erie

2/1 - Sandusky - The George Dunbar left Cleveland at 6 p.m. on June 29, 1902, bound for Alpena, Mich. Loaded with coal, the 136-foot ship rode low in the water as it steamed northwest into rough Lake Erie weather, her boilers running full steam. By nightfall, the Dunbar struggled past Kelleys Island, the wind and waves pulling at her seams. In the darkness, the ship began to take on more water than her crew could pump out. To lessen the strain, the Dunbar’s skipper turned his ship into the wind. But she already was lost. At 4 a.m., her hull split.

The skipper, his wife and daughter escaped the Dunbar, but seven crew members were lost to Erie, which has claimed an estimated 2,000 ships. The Dunbar has survived more than a century of summer squalls, November gales and winter ice, and the shipwreck remains preserved 45 feet below the surface, just over the international line in Canadian waters.

In 2003, Dale Liebenthal cruised over the wreck and took a ghostly picture of the ship, still heavy with coal, revealing her stern, bow and bulwarks. Her smokestack lies broken, about 40 feet off the port stern. Liebenthal led a team of state Geological Survey scientists in a pilot study using a tool called sidescan sonar to produce images of 25 shipwrecks around Kelleys Island and the Bass Islands to the west. Their work, just recently published because of budget cuts, helps the Ohio Department of Natural Resources comply with a state law that orders the agency to inventory, evaluate, protect and designate underwater shipwreck locations.

Archaeologists and historians say they need this information to conserve wrecks as well as provide information to divers and the general public. Side-scan sonar produces images similar to aerial photography, but at an oblique angle. Geologists already use the sonar to study the lake’s bottom. Distinguishing between sand, mud and rock provides insights into fishspawning areas, beach erosion and mineral production. "We come across things using the sonar all the time. We wonder if they’re ships," Liebenthal said.

The side-scan sonar is lowered into the water on a brace attached to the bow of the division’s 25-foot research launch. It operates just below the surface by bouncing sound waves off the lake bottom. Images are produced as the boat is slowly piloted in a series of precise, calibrated runs over wreck areas. The sound echoes are recorded in shades of black and gray, depending on how reflective and hard a target is. Scientists look for the straight lines and angles that might indicate a hull or superstructure. Some images are more obvious than others.

The western basin of the lake is fairly shallow, and the waters around the islands are popular with recreational divers. Some wreck sites have been similarly scanned with sonar by private diving clubs. Still, Lake Erie remains almost totally unexplored. Ohio waters alone contain an estimated 600 wrecks. "We’re pretty far behind in terms of other Great Lake states," said Charles E. Herdendorf, a geologist and archaeological diver who served as a consultant on the study. "The Canadians are way ahead of us in mapping their shipwrecks and opening them up for diving."

The islands area is particularly rich in wrecks, thanks in part to two shoals north of Kelleys Island. Herdendorf estimated that as many as 50 wrecks might litter the lake bottom around the islands. "If ships got hit by storms, they could easily hit the shoals," said Constance Livchak, a Geological Survey scientist working on the project.

And many did. Nineteen of the 25 wrecks in the study surround Kelleys, and eight of those went down on the rocks.

Only the general locations of most shipwrecks are known. One purpose in searching them out was to fix their exact positions, because wrecks can move with time and the elements. Ice, in particular, acts like a bulldozer. "The ice covering the lake cracks and grinds together, pushing up and down … and then it scours the bottom," Liebenthal said.

Five wrecks were recorded on Gull Island Shoal, but the sonar failed to find much of anything left. Around the islands, wreck sites can be close together. A ship’s identity can be uncertain even when sonar reveals a vessel. For example, images recorded off the northwest shore of Kelleys show either the Oak Valley or the L.B. Crocker. Sonar also can reveal why a ship went down. The C.H. Plummer, which burned at its dock in 1888, probably was lost to a boiler fire and not to the spontaneous combustion of its cargo of lime, Herdendorf said.

"Where the coal was stored is the only place in the shipwreck where the fire had burned completely through. The rest of the shipwreck was intact," he said. Carrie Sowden, a marine archaeologist with the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermillion, said she plans to use the data to plan dives at the sites. Sowden said she wants to confirm wrecks as well as help create dive charts of the lost vessels. "We’ll go out (with volunteers) and see if we can locate them. It could be a shipwreck, a pile of rocks or ballast. It could be anything," she said. "We can learn something about the ship, its construction and maybe why it sank."

Sowden has dived at six wreck sites in the past two years, including the Dundee, a 200-foot schooner barge that went down in 1900 in a storm 14 miles off Cleveland. "It was under tow. The first thing that happens in bad weather is they cut the tow line. They lost control of it. The barge had no steering," she said.

However, the biggest mystery on the lake for Sowden is one that hasn’t appeared on any sonar. In December 1909, the Marquette and Bessemer No. 2, a 300-foot ferry loaded with railroad cars full of coal, left Conneaut in a gale for Port Stanley, across the lake in Canada. The ferry was never heard from again.

"A lot of people have tried to find it over the years," Sowden said.

From the Columbus Dispatch


Updates - February 1

News Photo Gallery updated

Win a Trip on  a Great Lakes Freighter - Help keep this site on line.

Public Photo Gallery 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.


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