Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping

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Remembering the past
Historical Perspective
Featured Lake Boat:

Capt. Harry "Heavy Weather Harry" Anderson

Master of the Cliffs Victory 1968 - 1972.

By Rickard Anderson, Bowie Maryland
(Son of Capt. Anderson)

My father, who will be 99 years old in October (08), was master of the VICTORY from 1969-1972, before moving on to the WALTER A. STERLING, then the EDWARD B. GREENE and retirement. The VICTORY was my father’s favorite ship, and he truly enjoyed sailing this unique ship both as its master and many times earlier in his career as a mate. With cold seawater and a good vacuum in the condenser, its speed in ballast was 23 mph and 20 mph loaded (this was with 6 nozzles out of 24 welded shut on the high pressure turbine years earlier to save fuel). While master of VICTORY, my father said he was only overtaken once by another ship, and it was one of Farrell Line’s fast oceangoing ‘African Class’ cargo ships. The VICTORY overtook everybody else, including oceangoing ships (i.e. so-called ‘salties’) and the faster ‘lakers’ (PATTON/GIRDLER/WHITE, JOE THOMPSON, FORT HENRY, FORT YORK, et al). It had good sea-keeping ability in heavy weather (yes, my dad’s nickname was ‘Heavy Weather Harry’ more on that later) and could break ice really well with its power. Because of its speed, the VICTORY could frequently outrun bad weather. It was the only ship my father sailed that could lock-up in ballast and lock-down loaded at Sault Ste. Marie in the same day (i.e. lock-up after midnight at 1-2 in the morning, sail to Marquette, load, return to the Soo, and lock-down the evening of the same day.

How dad got the name Heavy Weather Harry: Amongst all the Cleveland Cliffs skippers, my father always had the least amount of weather delay. Right after the FITZGERALD sinking, Cliffs’ office called the ship and asked my father why he didn’t seek shelter more often in bad weather. He said “I never encounter any heavy weather.” Having experienced his share of bad winter storms on both the north Atlantic and Pacific, I suppose what the Lakes could dish out didn’t much worry him. By the way, my father was a good friend of Ernie McSorley, master of the FITZGERALD.

Dad also sailed the WILLIAM. G. MATHER before moving to the VICTORY. He lives in Lakewood, OH, and is a docent at the MATHER Museum. He was born in Sweden (the family settled in Marquette, MI). He sailed deep sea till his late twenties, then he remained on the Lakes for the rest of his sailing career. He also sailed on board Liberty Ships during WWII.

(Rickard Anderson)

(Rickard Anderson)

(Rickard Anderson)

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