On Friday evening, June 24, was the annual Boatnerd cruise, aboard the Soo Locks tour boat Le Voyageur. At the beginning of the cruise, it wasn’t looking as if we would be able to see any vessel traffic in the river.
But we were in luck – the Edwin H. Gott was upbound in the lower part of the river, and instead of heading upbound like normal, we met the Gott halfway to the Soo Locks and followed her back to the harbor.
Everyone on board Le Voyageur was very happy to photograph the 1,004-foot ship, and the clicks of cameras could be heard the whole way back up the river.
We made one pass-by of the ship, before turning around and following behind her for a while.
Edwin H. Gott was the eighth 1,000 footer built for Great Lakes service, and was launched on July 19, 1978 at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay.
The Gott was originally built with a shuttle conveyor unloading boom, which could only extend 52 feet to port or starboard of the ship.
In 1995, she returned to Bay Shipbuilding, where her shuttle boom was replaced with a traditional Great Lakes style self-unloading boom.
The conversion made the ship much more versatile and efficient, especially because there were only a few ports that could accommodate her shuttle boom.
In addition, Edwin holds the record for the longest self-unloading boom of any Great Lakes freighter. At 280 feet long, the boom is 20 to 30 feet longer than those of most other ships.
Today, only two ships on the Lakes – the Gott‘s sister Edgar B. Speer and Roger Blough – still use a similar shuttle boom to unload their cargoes.
We made our way back to the Gott‘s bow, providing excellent opportunities for photos in the late evening sunlight.
The evening light was perfect, and everyone on board crowded to Le Voyageur‘s stern for this one.
After everyone on board had taken their bow shots of the now very photogenic Edwin H. Gott, we kept her to our stern and made full ahead for a tour of the Canadian shoreline.
With really no change from last year is the Purvis Marine dock. The Yankcanuck still remains in lay-up, moored next to the rather large steel coil barge Ironmaster. The barge can reportedly carry up to 400 steel coils, and is primarily used to transport them from the Algoma steel plant to the lower St. Marys River.
Behind us, the Gott was just arriving at the lower lock approach, and was preparing to lower a few crew members to the dock.
The two crew members who were swung out on the boson’s chair got quite a cheer from the Boatnerds aboard Le Voyageur, and seemed to enjoy the extra attention.
While the Gott locked upbound, we headed up through the Canadian lock and toured the Algoma steel plant. This is one of Algoma’s two historic and massive ship unloaders, which are now used to transfer raw materials around the dock.
At the entrance to the slip, the tug Anglian Lady with her barge PML 9000 was loading steel coils.
The setting sun made for some great shots of her as well.
The 132-foot Anglian Lady‘s barge PML 9000 is the longest in the Purvis fleet at 400 feet long, even beating out the 324-foot Yankcanuck!
Here’s one more wide shot of the barge loading.
On the way back to the locks, we passed the former hull of the Sewell Avery, now used as a dock at Algoma.
We returned to the locks just in time to catch Edwin H. Gott heading upbound, in what was arguably the best lighting of the night.
By now, we were very good friends with the crew of the Gott, and they waved at us as well as returning our final salute.
This shot gives a good view of her 280-foot self-unloading boom.
And with this final passing, the Gott heads up into Lake Superior, and her next cargo.
We bid one last farewell to Edwin H. Gott as we head on our way back to the dock.
The sun was setting just as the lower gates of the MacArthur Lock opened.
I grabbed one final shot of the Katmai Bay, Sault Ste. Marie’s U.S. Coast Guard ship just as the sun was turning the sky a pinkish-purple.
And that will conclude my Engineer’s Day, 2016 trip. It was definitely a great one, and I am already looking forward to next year!