WARNING! Large Boats Ahead

My last post concluded my saltie adventure in Menominee on May 20th. I am now a lot closer to being caught up; I’m now only two trips behind! We’ll get one of those out of the way today.

On May 24th, just a few days after my Menominee stint, I was finally able to bring my boat up to Sturgeon Bay to do some up close and personal boatwatching…

…starting with this absolute monster.

I say that because even though I’ve seen American Integrity plenty of times before and I’m quite accustomed to the large size of 1,000 footers, they are on a whole new level of impressive when you’re looking up at them from directly below.

How does this shot make you feel? Like you’re about to be run over? Yeah, me too.

Working my way down the side of the ship, I took plenty of detail shots. Notice how little the ship is drafting – with no cargo or ballast aboard, only five feet of the ship’s hull is submerged. Her normal ballasted waterline (no cargo onboard) would be about where the black hull paint meets the lower hull, that is for some reason a whitish color, at the 18-foot mark.

This is only about ten feet of the Integrity‘s propeller – each of her two propellers has a diameter of approximately 19 feet. The photo certainly doesn’t do that justice either.

Integrity just received fresh paint this past winter when she was drydocked for her five-year inspection as well as hull repairs to a gash she received in one of her ballast tanks late in 2019.

But even a freshly painted and repaired hull wasn’t enough to get the Integrity out in 2020, thanks to coronavirus – at least, not as of May 24th. Just a few days ago, on June 16th, the ship fit out and departed for the first time since laying up for the winter on December 26th. Maybe her reentry into service is a positive sign for the rest of the season?

Switching gears now, I headed over to the drydock to shoot the boat I really wanted to on this trip – the nearly completed barge Michigan Trader. To clarify for anyone who is curious: no, I was not trespassing on shipyard property. I brought my boat close to the drydock gate and then held my camera up to shoot over the rail atop the gate, and the resulting photo makes it look as if I was on dry land and avoids the obstructions of the gate.

Anyway, a little about Michigan Trader. Bay Shipbuilding has been working on the barge for a little over a year now, and her completion date is finally drawing near. You can see that the yard workers were in the process of finishing her hull paint here – look to the right of her port anchor chain, and you’ll see that the line between her red hull and gray boot topping hasn’t yet been finished. But for the most part, the barge is complete, and she was floated out of the drydock about a week later. As of today, June 18th, she is still at the yard and is expected to undergo sea trials in early- to mid-July, with an entry into service for VanEnkevort expected soon after.

Since there were no other angles to shoot Michigan Trader from, I moved on to the next vessel. Remember in my last post when I said that I would still get my Jlo fix?

Having just arrived in Sturgeon Bay four days prior, Hon. James L. Oberstar was already pumped out and had her anchors down for her (hopefully) relatively short layup period.

Although it seems a little odd to me since I’ve seen Lee A. Tregurtha, Herbert C. Jackson, and Kaye E. Barker numerous times, I’ve only ran into the Oberstar one time prior to this, and that was at the Soo quite a few years ago (aka I have no good shots of her).

Although I had been hoping to get some photos of her arriving for layup, I was plenty happy with how these turned out.

After this meeting with Jlo, I only had one more Interlake vessel to cross off my list…hint hint…

Moored in the same slip opposite James L. was Bay Shipbuilding’s other new product, the carferry Madonna that was built for service between Northport, WI, and Washington Island.

And one slip over were the other two victims of coronavirus being hosted by Bay Shipbuilding. The classic Wilfred Sykes, which I had seen arriving a few weeks prior, is on the left, and H. Lee White is on the right.

Since I just recounted the Sykes’ arrival and rambled about her in two different posts a few days ago, I don’t really have much to say about her this time.

So here’s a bow view from her other side.

And just like with the Integrity and Oberstar, here’s a nice close-up shot to make you feel small.

The sun really washed out here stern here, but oh well.

And if you didn’t feel small enough yet, here’s H. Lee White looming over me.

Interestingly enough, the White’s crew didn’t pump out her ballast after laying her up – she is the only vessel at the shipyard that looks like she could actually be leaving soon (however that is not the case – at least as of now).

If someone were to tell me that another member of American Steamship’s fleet needs paint more than H. Lee White, I’d be willing to argue.

Poor Wilfred; she just can’t escape the stare of Harris (that’s what the “H” in H. Lee White‘s name stands for, if you didn’t know).

Once again – the need for PAINT! Wilfred is 30 years older and looks ten times better.


I really like how the sun washes out this shot a bit, but highlights the American flag well.

And with an obligatory stern shot, you have now seen all the ships at Bay Shipbuilding as of May 24th. Aside from the departure of American Integrity, as of today, June 18th, the John J. Boland has arrived for layup; the cement barge St. Marys Challenger has arrived and is on the floating drydock for her five-year inspection; and the ATB Erie Trader/Clyde S. VanEnkevort is in for a brief boom belt repair. Neither of the latter two vessels will be staying longer than the length of their work, however, and should be back out and in operation again soon. As for the Boland, Oberstar, Sykes, and White, however, the extent of their layups is undetermined and it very well may be months before they see service again.

I now have just one more boatwatching trip to recount before I’ll be caught up, so stick around for that!

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