This past weekend, I traveled up to Duluth for the first time in over a year, and was able to get some amazing shots because of the freezing temperatures! It never breached zero all weekend, with most days around -10 to -15 degrees. Unfortunately, due to the weather and constantly changing schedules, I was only able to see one vessel arrive through the ship canal.
The sub-zero temperatures, combined with the much warmer water, creates a thick fog-like substance known as sea smoke. There wasn’t a point in the weekend where sea smoke was absent, and it made for some excellent yet somewhat ominous shots of the inbound ship.
The vessel in question is Mesabi Miner, a 1,004 foot vessel owned by the Interlake Steamship Company.
The ship had been sitting at anchor outside the Duluth harbor for a few days, and was arriving on Sunday to refuel at the Calumet fuel dock.
Those keeping up with current vessel positions know that a small party of at least six or seven ships are currently sitting at anchor outside the Duluth harbor, some waiting to load at Burlington Northern in Superior and some waiting for Two Harbors.
The Miner is on the western end of Lake Superior to pick up a load of iron ore pellets from Burlington Northern, however she, like the other anchored ships, has a long wait ahead of her due to the loading delays that come along with the weather.
The ship’s ice-coated bow silently pushed the ice out of her path as she made her way toward the harbor.
To my surprise, the Miner‘s horn was in good working condition when she saluted the bridge – at this time of year, most ships’ horns are frozen over.
Notice Mesabi Miner‘s rather wide stack – she spent last winter in Sturgeon Bay, where, like many fleetmates before her, she was outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers to reduce emissions. The extra equipment necessitated the reduction of stacks from two to one.
After the Miner‘s arrival, we headed into the visitor’s center to warm up. I grabbed this shot while there, focusing on the top of the Canal Park tug Bayfield‘s mast. In the background but not in focus are Algoma Equinox, G3 Marquis, and Whitefish Bay.
Later in the afternoon, the sea smoke cleared enough to allow me to shoot the party of vessels sitting outside the harbor. St. Clair, shown here, had arrived Duluth earlier in the day, fueled, and departed, dropping anchor to wait her turn to load in Superior. I had been planning on seeing her arrival, but of course her schedule changed too quickly for me to keep up with.
Anchored nearby was her fleetmate Walter J. McCarthy Jr. The McCarthy was waiting to load in Two Harbors, and arrived there on Monday to pick up her cargo.
To the right of St. Clair are Whitefish Bay and G3 Marquis.
This was the closest shot I could get of the two vessels, which were on the hook closer to the Superior entry.
The final two ships in the party were Algoma Equinox (foreground) and Algoma Discovery.
I then headed up to Two Harbors, where the Erie Trader and her tug Clyde S. VanEnkevort were loading ore.
Up until last year (feels weird saying that now, doesn’t it?), the pair were operated by American Steamship, however their charter came to an end and the vessels were purchased by VanEnkevort.
Just before leaving the breakwall, I grabbed a shot of the sun setting over Lake Superior. The temperature was close to -20, and there was a stiff breeze blowing as well, but the results of the trip were well worth it!
That was all from my latest Duluth trip. I hope to make it up at some point during the winter to photograph the winter layup fleet, but until then, hopefully these photos will hold you over.
And last but certainly not least, I would like to sincerely wish all of my readers a very happy New Year and extend my thanks to you for your continued support! I cannot wait for the adventures 2018 will bring, and I look forward to sharing many more photos with you.