A Normal Ship, a Weird Barge, and a Cool Barge

My last post chronicled my boating adventure in Sturgeon Bay on May 24th. My latest boatwatching trip, which was probably my favorite of the trips I’ve taken in the last month, occurred on May 31st when I headed up to Green Bay again with two particular goals in mind.

This wasn’t one of them…

But nevertheless, I was plenty happy to catch American Mariner‘s departure.

The ASC workhorse had just unloaded limestone from Calcite at the GLC Minerals dock and was departing light.

The ship slowly nosed her way out of the slip and then activated her bow thruster to swing her forward end around towards the channel.

The early morning light, clear skies, and calm water made for some beautiful shooting.

It hasn’t been long since the Mariner and I last met – I shot her back in both February and March while she was in winter layup in Sturgeon Bay.

American Mariner is the only one of ASC’s three near sisterships (H. Lee White and John J. Boland are the other two) that is in active service right now. Both the Boland and White entered service initially when the 2020 season began, but have been sent to Sturgeon Bay for temporary layup.

The Mariner appears to have plenty of cargoes to haul to keep her busy and out of layup, as she is currently pulling the weight of all three sisters even though cargo demand is down.

American Steamship currently holds the title for having the most vessels in layup – of the fleet’s eleven active vessels, over half are currently at the wall due to a lack of cargoes. That number had been at seven, however American Integrity‘s reentry into service just this week reduced it to six.

Even so, its interesting considering that Interlake has only two vessels in layup right now and all nine of Great Lakes Fleet’s ships are operating.

Our brief meeting at an end, American Mariner heads out of the Fox River and into the bay of Green Bay, bound for Calcite to load yet another stone cargo as a fishing boat gets underway for a morning of you guessed it, fishing.

After a few hour break, the two vessels I had actually came for appeared on the horizon.

In the lead is the Toronto Drydock barge Coastal Titan, pushed by the tug Salvage Monarch.

Trailing her is Interlake’s ATB Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder.

An interesting vessel to say the least, Coastal Titan is actually a floating drydock – look at the first photo of her above, and you’ll notice that one of her bow doors was open.

The vessel’s bow splits open in two large swinging doors to allow small vessels to enter. Once the doors are closed, the ship’s hold is pumped out and voila – drydock.

The barge was not operating as a drydock on this trip – in fact, it was loaded with a massive boiler that it had brought from St. Catharines, Ontario.

Salvage Monarch is also quite the unique tug – her upper pilothouse is only accessible by ladder and has barely enough room for one person.

When on the open lake, the pair actually sails with the barge’s bow doors open as it allows for improved visibility for the tug.

Now past me and on her way towards the Leo Frigo Bridge, the pair continued on towards their final destination, which was the Georgia Pacific Terminal upriver where the boiler would be offloaded.

I quickly turned my attention to the Pathfinder, which was right on Coastal Titan‘s heels.

Remember in my last post, when I made a comment about having only one more Interlake vessel to cross of my list? Yeah, this was it and this was the real reason I came to Green Bay.

Two pelicans were also witnesses to the ATB’s arrival.

On this trip, Pathfinder was loaded down with salt from Lorain, Ohio that she would discharge at the Fox Fiver Terminal in the same slip as where American Mariner had been earlier in the morning.

I personally think Dorothy Ann is a great looking tug. She was purpose-built in 1999 at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay to push Pathfinder, which had previously served Interlake as the AAA-class steamer J. L. Mauthe. Interlake opted to cut her down to a barge in the late ’90s instead of repowering her like they did with Hon. James L. Oberstar, Lee A. Tregurtha, etc.

Dorothy Ann is equipped with twin Z-drives, meaning she can spin her barge on a dime. Those Z-drives also make the pair much more maneuverable and thus rivers like the Cuyahoga in Cleveland are more easily accessible.

The pair slowed to a crawl here, as Dorothy Ann prepared to back her barge into the slip.

The light was no longer very ideal in this direction, so I didn’t shoot much as the pair made their turn.

And just like that, the pair was nearly docked and ready to unload. Pathfinder/Dorothy Ann would depart about six hours later and follow American Mariner to Calcite to load limestone.

My real goal of May 31st was Pathfinder, as she normally sticks to the lower lakes and has thus been very elusive for me. However, after this meeting I have now seen every vessel in Interlake’s fleet, and on top of that I got to catch the unique Coastal Titan and American Mariner on the same day – I would call that a productive day of boatwatching. This post also brings me to the present, meaning I am now officially caught up on posting. So although I don’t have more boatwatching shots to share now, that won’t last long – next week, I’ll be venturing to Sault Ste. Marie for what would have been Engineer’s Day 2020. Even though the event has been cancelled for this year, my friends and I will still make the trip and catch whatever vessels we can. Stay tuned for that – I’m hoping it will be as fun of a trip as last year’s was!

2 thoughts on “A Normal Ship, a Weird Barge, and a Cool Barge

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