Ojibway and the Return of Walter

I left off yesterday with part two of my photos from Mission Point on the morning of June 30, and today I’ll continue that saga. Today’s post is also a bit of a milestone – it’ll be my last one with photos from Sault Ste. Marie (finally). But it won’t be the last post from the whole trip…

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After the Algoma Buffalo passed upbound on her way to the locks, we had just one more vessel to wait for.

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That vessel was Lower Lakes’ classic Ojibway.

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This was my first time photographing Ojibway underway – I saw her briefly many years ago, and my first time getting to shoot her (and the last time I saw her) was when she was laid up in Sarnia two summers ago.

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Ojibway is one of my favorite Canadian vessels, purely because I love her classic lines and design.

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This is the last photo I’ll share that features the Sugar Islander II, I promise.

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I believe the vessel was headed to Thunder Bay for a load of grain on this trip, but I’m not entirely sure.

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Like quite a few other Canadian vessels, Ojibway was built as a U.S. vessel and was eventually sold to Canadian interests. She was built in Bay City, Michigan, in 1952 as the Charles L. Hutchinson for the Pioneer Steamship Company.

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She was also known as Ernest R. Breech, Kinsman Independent, and Voyageur Indpendent before she was acquired by LLT in 2007 and given her current name.

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She was originally built as an ore carrier, but midway through her career she began to carry more grain cargoes, and she has carried grain almost exclusively since then.

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This shot was the last I took at Mission Point on the trip, as Ojibway heads towards the locks and her next load. But don’t worry, we weren’t done catching boats yet.

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On our way out of town, we stopped at the Rock Cut one last time to catch Walter J. McCarthy Jr. for the second time as she passed through the channel.

 

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I wasn’t happy with how any of my shots from earlier had turned out because of the poor morning light at Mission, so I was glad to have another opportunity to shoot Walter.

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The McCarthy and I have run into each other quite a few times over the last few years, with most of those meetings being while the ship is in Sturgeon Bay for winter layup.

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I’d never caught the 1,000 footer in Sault Ste. Marie before though, so I was happy for a change of scenery.

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Come to think of it, I saw all six of American Steamship’s 1,000-foot vessels during the weekend. Although I didn’t photograph all of them because some passed through in the middle of the night, I still find it amazing that I was able to see all six of them in the span of just a few days.

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The McCarthy was flying the Canadian and ASC flags from her bow mast, a typical practice when vessels are transiting international waters (or waterways with the U.S. on one shore, and Canada on the other).

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I had forgotten just how close to a vessel you can get at places like the Rock Cut, and even though the ship was loaded down, she still dwarfed us standing on the raised shoreline.

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Christened Belle River on July 12, 1977, the vessel holds the distinction of being the first 1,000 footer ever constructed by Bay Shipbuilding, and is therefore the lead ship in the “BayShip Class” of footers.

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The yard would go on to build her now-fleetmates Burns Harbor, Columbia Star (now American Century), Indiana Harbor, and Oglebay Norton (now American Integrity) in the next few years.

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Belle River was the sixth of ten total vessels that were built for American Steamship under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970, which allowed fleets to build or modernize existing vessels with government-guaranteed financing.

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The ship was purpose-built to carry low-sulfur western coal from the Midwest Energy terminal in Superior to the Detroit Edison power plants of St. Clair and Monroe, Michigan.

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In 1990, the ship was renamed to Walter J. McCarthy Jr. to honor the retired chairman of the board of Detroit Edison, for which the ship carried the majority of her cargo at the time.

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Although she now mixes in iron ore loads with the coal cargoes, the McCarthy continues to be a workhorse for ASC, running up and down the lakes with a round trip time of just short of a week.

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The vessel is powered by four GM diesel engines, each producing 3,600 horsepower. The engines are arranged in pairs, so there are two dedicated engines for each propeller.

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Each pair is connected to a gear reduction box that drives the 17′ diameter controllable pitch propeller. The vessel is also designed to operate with only one engine driving each propeller, in order to achieve more economical cruising.

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And now the time has come to say our goodbyes to Walter J. McCarthy Jr., and Sault Ste. Marie as a whole.

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I grabbed one last shot as the ship sailed past the massive piles of rock sitting on shore.

As quickly as it had began (or so it seemed), our time in the Soo was over, and we had to begin the long journey home. Our boatwatching still wasn’t done, however. I have one more post to share with the last photos from the trip, so check back tomorrow for the conclusion of this entire saga.

Morning at Mission, Part II

Today’s post is part two of my photos from Mission Point on the morning of June 30. My last shots yesterday were of the downbound Walter J. McCarthy Jr. passing the Great Lakes Trader heading up the river, so today I’ll pick up with the tug and barge unit.

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The pair was heading upbound for Duluth, where they would unload their limestone cargo at Hallett #5 – a typical run for the busy pair.

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Unfortunately, the dark colored hull of the vessel combined with the fact that the sun was on the wrong side of the river made these shots very dark and less than desirable.

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Since I just recounted the history and career of Great Lakes Trader when I last saw her back in April, I don’t really have much else to say about the pair this time.

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So instead, I’ll talk about VanEnkevort as a fleet, as they have some changes coming their way in the next year.

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A new 740′ self-unloading barge, to be named Michigan Trader, is on order for the company from Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, which is expected to deliver the vessel in mid-2020.

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VanEnkevort has also purchased a tug from saltwater for their fleet, and named her Laura L. VanEnkevort.

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The current tug/barge pairings will be reorganized a little bit once the new barge is ready, however. The tug Joseph H. Thompson Jr., which currently pushes the barge Joseph H. Thompson, will be paired with the new Michigan Trader.

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Laura L. VanEnkevort will then push the Joseph H. Thompson. It is currently unknown if VanEnkevort plans to rename the Thompson anytime soon, as the company didn’t change either vessel’s name when they purchased the pair a few years ago.

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The hardworking GLT/Joyce continues on to the locks – and now, I finally can say I saw both of VTB’s two main ATBs (the other was Erie Trader two days prior) in the same weekend.

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You’ll remember from yesterday that there was a third vessel trailing Great Lakes Trader. Now that the tug/barge has passed Mission, vessel number three, Algoma Buffalo, is approaching the point (there’s a fourth vessel too…look on the right side of this shot).

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Once again, the light was less than ideal for shots of the vessel.

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Instead of bothering with changing my camera lens and getting dark shots, I decided to keep my 300mm lens on and take closeups of the vessel instead.

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Algoma Buffalo is the former Buffalo, a name which she carried for her entire career up until her sale to Algoma.

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The 634-foot River-class vessel was constructed at Bay Shipbuilding in 1978 for $25 million, and is a sister to her former fleetmates Sam Laud and American Courage. This shot was just for fun, but I like the contrast between the dark hull and brightly colored trees of Sugar Island.

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She had a somewhat eventful career with ASC though, with the most notable incident being the explosion of the tanker Jupiter on September 6, 1990, on the Saginaw River near Bay City, Michigan.

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The tanker was moored and unloading gasoline, and the suction created when Buffalo passed caused Jupiter to drift away from the dock, snap her mooring lines, and sever the unloading hoses.

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An explosion and fire aboard Jupiter ensued, which completely destroyed the tanker and resulted in the loss of one of her crew members. Buffalo was found to be partially at fault in the mishap.

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The other major accident occurred in 1997, when Buffalo struck the Detroit River Light in Lake Erie. The collision resulted in minimal damage to the lighthouse, but ripped a 25-foot gash in Buffalo‘s hull and severely dented her bow inwards.

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The ship had to be drydocked, and the steel of her entire lower bow needed to be replaced. A USCG investigation concluded that the accident was the result of human error, as weather conditions were favorable with high visibility and low winds and waves at the time.

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Other than those two incidents, Buffalo proved to be a very hard worker for American Steamship, however that changed in December of 2017 when she was part of a sale of four vessels to Algoma.

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It made sense for ASC to get rid of the other three vessels that were a part of the sale – the company had no use for the aging American Valor and American Victory, both of which required extensive work in order to be put back into service. The fourth vessel, Adam E. Cornelius, had been laid up for quite a few years.

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I always wondered why the company got rid of Buffalo, however, as the ship was one that they actively relied on for various contracts all around the Lakes and was almost always busy right up until the end of the shipping season.

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Algoma also saw plenty of potential in the vessel, and she has remained very busy in the past two seasons that she has operated under the Canadian flag.

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Although Algoma Buffalo likely won’t be around for too much longer knowing how Algoma goes through their vessels, they have at least found use for her for now. I would venture to guess that she will remain a hardworking member of their fleet for at least five to ten years.

I’ll end this post here, however remember the fourth vessel I talked about earlier? That one is coming in part three, which drops tomorrow.

Morning at Mission

I ended yesterday’s post with my last shots from June 29, of the Algoma Mariner downbound at Nine Mile Point on the St. Marys River. June 30 was our last day in the Soo, however we saw plenty of traffic before the trip was over.

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We started the day at the locks, where Walter J. McCarthy Jr. was approaching the Poe Lock to be lowered.

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Meanwhile, the State of Michigan was entering the MacArthur Lock to head upbound.

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We had just seen the GLMA training vessel heading downbound two days earlier, and during those that time, the ship headed down Lake Huron to the St. Clair River before turning around and coming back to the Soo.

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After locking upbound, the vessel spent the rest of the day running the upper portion of the St. Marys River, and this would be the last time we saw her. But not to worry, you’ll have plenty of pictures of the vessel in the next four years as I train aboard her.

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We left the locks and headed to Mission Point for the remainder of the morning, where we caught a family of geese heading downbound while the Sugar Islander II navigates her way to the island’s dock.

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The geese were dwarfed by the oncoming Edgar B. Speer.

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The 1,004-foot vessel was upbound light for another load of iron ore pellets, a cargo she carries basically constantly.

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Like her fleetmate Roger Blough (and the Stewart J. Cort that I shot earlier in the trip), the Speer‘s shuttle boom restricts her to delivering cargo to only two ports, hence why her runs are almost always the same.

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The Speer‘s sister ship Edwin H. Gott was originally constructed with a shuttle boom, however the Gott was given a traditional self-unloading boom in 1995 to increase her flexibility.

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The Speer has retained her shuttle unloader primarily because she is still a perfect fit for the ore hauling contract GLF has with the steel mills of Gary and Conneaut, and she has no need for a regular boom to be added.

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The ship was built in two sections by the American Shipbuilding yards at Lorain and Toledo, Ohio, and was launched on May 8, 1980.

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When the Speer entered service in 1980, seven smaller U.S. Steel ore carriers were sent for scrap, which goes to show how large the carrying capacity of a 1,000 footer really is.

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The vessel has had a rather uneventful career, with the only notable occurrence being when her fleetmate Roger Blough lost her rudder in the lower St. Marys River in August of 2006.

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The Speer came to the rescue, and was lashed side-by-side with the Blough. In this fashion, the “tow” proceeded all the way down to Gary, where both vessels unloaded and then the Blough was taken to Sturgeon Bay for repairs.

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As Edgar heads for the locks, the Sugar Islander II made yet another of her regular channel crossings.

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Our next vessel was the downbound Walter J. McCarthy Jr., which we had seen entering the Poe Lock earlier in the morning.

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The McCarthy is downbound with either iron ore or coal, her two primary cargoes.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t pick a good spot along the riverbank to get good bow shots, however that will change later.

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Walter is a typical “BayShip Class” 1,000 footer, a class comprised of seven vessels spread between American Steamship and Great Lakes Fleet.

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From what I’ve heard, the interior of these vessels is very simple and basic, although that is also dependent on the fleet – ASC has earned a reputation of not updating their vessels with modern technology and amenities that increase crew comfort.

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Although I prefer the American Shipbuilding 1,000 footers (such as the James R. Barker) over the BayShip Class, I still like the design of these vessels – there’s something about the very straight and simple lines that make them stand out among similarly designed ships.

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As the McCarthy continues downbound, she comes upon the subject of tomorrow’s post.

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The ATB Great Lakes Trader/tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort begins to disappear behind Walter‘s bow as the two vessels prepare for a close passing.

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The much larger McCarthy completely hides Great Lakes Trader for a short time.

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Although I’d rather that tree branch on the right was elsewhere, look above it, and you’ll see a third vessel in this shot trailing the Great Lakes Trader.

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With the McCarthy past Joyce L. VanEnkevort and on her way down the river, I’ll stop here for today. Tomorrow’s post will continue this saga, so stay tuned!

Fun at the Channel of Rock

I left off yesterday with the James R. Barker, upbound at Mission Point on the evening of June 29. Although the sun was setting, our boatwatching wasn’t done yet.

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Prior to the Barker, we had watched CSL Tadoussac pass downbound at Mission, but decided we wanted to shoot her one more time.

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That meant another trip down to the Rock Cut, where we met the vessel cruising down the channel. This time around, we walked all the way to the lower end of the Cut to get a different angle for stern shots.

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For those who don’t know what the Rock Cut is, it’s what it sounds like – a channel made of solid rock. I’m going to talk about the channel’s construction and history in this post, since I just talked about the Tadoussac yesterday and have no interest in repeating myself.

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Prior to any constructive work being done, the passage on the west side of Neebish Island was a very narrow and shallow section of the St. Marys River, and was strewn with large boulders and other hazards to navigation, not to mention that both upbound and downbound traffic was routed through it.

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In the 1897 edition of the Lake Carriers Association’s report, it was recommended that the Corps of Engineers investigate a new channel around Neebish Island in which upbound traffic passed on the east side of the island while downbound vessels transited the West Neebish Rapids, as the Rock Cut was then known as.

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Congress approved funding for a new channel to remove the hazards posed by the West Neebish Rapids, and in May of 1904, workmen began arriving at the site to begin the project.

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Before any work could be done, cofferdams had to be constructed at either end so the passage could be completely drained of water. Once the channel was dry, old-fashioned drilling, blasting, and hauling techniques were used to begin removing rock.

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The machinery on the site was driven by compressed air, and the air compressors were powered by three very large wood-fired boilers, the foundations of which still exist at the site today.

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Four years of rock removal later, the new West Neebish Channel was complete, and officially opened to traffic on August 16, 1908 with the downbound passage of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company’s steamer George F. Baker.

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The original channel was only 21 feet deep, as vessels of the day didn’t draft nearly as deep as they do today.

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Quite a few dredging and widening projects have occurred in the Rock Cut’s 101-year history, with the most recent one being in the winter of 1959-60 that brought the channel to its “current” minimum depth of 27 feet.

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The channel hasn’t been touched since the 1960 dredging project, however rising water levels and the effect of currents in the channel have effectively made it more like 30-32 feet in depth.

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And with that bit of St. Marys River history over, CSL Tadoussac is also headed away from us and on down the river.

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This was the last we’d see of her on this trip, but I was glad we caught her twice.

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There was one more downbounder on the evening of June 29, the Algoma Mariner, and we had planned on catching her at the Rock Cut as well.

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However, she was delayed on the upper river, and there was no way she would make it to the Cut before sunset, so we headed back up to Nine Mile Point to see her. We arrived just in time to catch some nice sunset shots, even though they’re from a distance.

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The Mariner is still a relatively new vessel, having entered service for Algoma in 2011.

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She was originally just a forebody that was intended to be joined with the existing stern of Algoma’s Algoport (a near sister to the late John B. Aird, Peter R. Cresswell, and Capt. Henry Jackman) in a conversion like that of her fleet mate Algobay (now Radcliffe R. Latimer).

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However, while under tow to China for the conversion in the fall of 2009, Algoport broke in two and sank in heavy seas on the Pacific Ocean. Rather than scrapping the already completed forebody, a new stern was constructed and joined with the forward section to create an entirely new vessel.

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Algoma Mariner has been a hardworking member of the Algoma fleet since her arrival on the Lakes, however she doesn’t make trips to Lake Superior more than a few times each season, so even though these shots were less than desirable, I’m thankful we caught the vessel.

That was all from a very busy June 29 in the Soo. Tomorrow I’ll share my first batch of photos from June 30, the last day of my trip. However, it was another very busy day on the river, so I still have quite a few posts coming.

Sunset and a Margarita

In yesterday’s post, I left off with the upbound CSL St-Laurent at the West Pier of the locks in the early afternoon of June 29. There was a short lapse in traffic until later in the afternoon, when we returned to Mission Point to catch the one and only saltie we saw on the trip.

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I’m surprised we only saw one saltwater vessel considering that our grand total consisted of more than 30 ships throughout the weekend, although some of the lakers we saw more than made up for the lack of foreign ships.

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Federal Margaree was heading up the St. Marys River empty, destined for Thunder Bay to load a grain cargo for overseas delivery.

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Coming downbound was the tour boat Holiday – I found it interesting that there were only a few passengers on board, and they were all on the lower deck (which is, of course, enclosed) even though it was a warm and sunny day.

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The two vessels exchanged salutes as they approached each other.

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I really like the contrasting colors here – the bright red of Federal Margaree‘s hull combines nicely with the white and green paint of Holiday.

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The 606′ saltie dwarfs the tour boat, although that is partially because the Margaree is riding so high in the water.

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Holiday continued on her journey downriver, and I returned to shooting the “Federal Margarita” (a nickname we gave her on the trip, hence the title of this post).

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The vessel was built for FedNav in 2005, and has served them under the same name for her entire career thus far.

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Each of the Margaree‘s three cranes are capable of lifting up to 30 tons of cargo at a time.

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I took this sort of shot way too much on the trip – including a vessel’s bow or stern with the Sugar Islander II when the ferry was at the Sugar Island dock. But oh well, I’ll keep posting them anyway.

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The evening sun reflects off Federal Margaree‘s hull as she continues on her way to the locks.

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And with her passing, we were already done with salties for the trip. I’m at least glad we got one though, as I suppose we could have ended up not seeing any.

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We didn’t have to wait long for our next vessel – the classy CSL Tadoussac rounded the point soon after the Margaree had passed.

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The ship was heading down with a load of iron ore pellets from western Lake Superior, her usual run.

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I last saw Taddy in Duluth back in January, but it was dark then, so I was thankful for these sunset shots of the boat.

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The Tadoussac‘s one-of-a-kind design makes her stand out among other classic styled lakers sailing under both the U.S. and Canadian flags.

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I am especially a fan of her twin stacks, as I think they further blur the line between what is considered “classic” and “modern” vessels (and they make the ship more fun to shoot).

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For her age and the fact that she’s Canadian, the vessel still looks very sharp and likely has quite a few more years of service left in her.

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We say goodbye to CSL Tadoussac as she sails down the river, and then wait some more for vessel number three of the evening.

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I had hoped to see James R. Barker on this trip, but didn’t think it would happen. I’m glad I was wrong!

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I’ll always take the opportunity to see my favorite ship on the Lakes, so I was very happy we were able to catch her and that the light was really good for these bow shots.

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I last saw James just a few months ago when she was laid up for the winter in Sturgeon Bay, however she was tucked in behind other 1,000 footers and I wasn’t able to get any good shots of her.

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In fact, I can’t recall the last time I got good shots of the Barker (while I wasn’t aboard her, that is).

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Her signature steam plume is always a pleasure to see – it reminds me of Interlake’s commitment to reducing their environmental footprint and increasing the efficiency of their fleet, something that other companies are significantly further behind on.

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The Barker‘s scrubbers were added back in the spring of 2016, making this her fourth season of operating as a cleaner and more environmentally friendly ship.

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And as quickly as she came, we say goodbye to James R. Barker as she continues on her way to the locks.

I’ll cut this post off here, but that wasn’t all for the evening of June 29. Stay tuned to see what else we caught that night!

Red, White, and Blue

Yesterday, I left off with the end of our boat adventure on June 29 and my photos of Algoma Harvester and Presque Isle passing at Six Mile Point. After that was over, we headed three miles south to catch our next boat.

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This was, you guessed it, Nine Mile Point, and CSL St-Laurent was on her way up the river.

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I kept my zoom lens on while she was passing since she was so far away and I wanted to get close-ups, so this is all I’ve got for a bow view (featuring some kayakers).

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The ship is looking rather rough considering that she was just built four years ago.

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She also still features the large mural on the front of her cabins, which was painted in 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada and the 375th of the City of Montreal.

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I was unable to get stern shots of CSL St-Laurent thanks to the trees in the way, however we had another vessel to catch.

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The ship is the downbound Algoma Discovery, and the location is the Rock Cut.

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The last time I was at the Cut was aboard the Barker three summers ago, so it was nice to be back (although kind of disappointing to be on shore instead of on the vessel).

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Algoma Discovery has a very similar history as her sister Algoma Guardian, which I already recounted when I saw that vessel the day before.

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Unlike the Guardian, the Discovery was recently treated to a rare Algoma paint job, and the dark blue looks good on her hull.

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Built in 1987 as Malinska, the ship was constructed as a typical saltwater dry cargo vessel with four deck cranes for managing her loads.

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The three Algoma sisters (I’m talking about the Guardian, Discovery, and Spirit) have stuck together for the majority of their careers – all three were sold to Viken Shipping in 1997, and then to Algoma in 2008, upon which the deck cranes were removed.

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The Discovery was named Daviken while she served for the Norwegian company, and you can still see her former name underneath the current one.

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Until this meeting, I hadn’t seen Algoma Discovery yet either, so I’m glad I was able to see two of the three sisters on this trip.

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The close proximity of the Rock Cut also allowed for some excellent and close-up detail shots.

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As is typical with saltwater vessels, the ship has very boxy cabins and a large stack, although instead of having a free-fall lifeboat, the Discovery has a regular davit-launched one situated back against the cabins.

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This was the first time we ventured to the Rock Cut on this trip, but we made a few more trips there before we left.

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Although going to this spot is trespassing on government property, the angles and variety of shots you can get make it a rather popular spot for boatwatchers willing to risk the consequences.

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I guess that makes us law breakers. Oh, well.

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We say goodbye to Algoma Discovery as she continues down the Cut and to the lower river, and headed back up to the locks.

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After getting poor shots of CSL St-Laurent at Nine Mile, we returned to the West Pier of the locks to try again.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the annoying fence out of these shots, but the light and angle was much better.

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Here’s a much better bow profile, showing the lovely marks the Welland Canal and Seaway has left on the ship’s hull. Also, notice that the St-Laurent does not have the “Trillium Class” lettering below her name, while the four self-unloading class members do.

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You can see the ship’s mural better here too – I hope they don’t paint over it anytime soon, as it has sort of become the vessel’s trademark and makes her stand out.

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Aside from the obvious lack of a self-unloading boom, another thing that makes CSL’s two Trillium straight deckers different from the original four is the white paint on the upper hull of the stern – the four self-unloaders lack this.

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After a quick passing, CSL St-Laurent heads on her way to pick up her next load.

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And with those photos finished off, we returned to Mission Point for the evening, where we caught a few more boats before the day was out. Check back tomorrow to see those!

The One with the Meeting

I finished up yesterday with my shots of the Algoma Harvester heading upbound on the St. Marys River, and I mentioned that there was plenty more to come from that boat ride. If the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway…there’s another ship coming.

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We followed the Harvester up the river, where the other aforementioned vessel was starting to come into view.

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We came up on the ship’s port stern, and decided to pass her and get ahead of her to shoot the downbound vessel. That means another wave of Harvester shots are coming your way, if you didn’t get enough from yesterday’s post.

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While I’m going through these, I’ll fill you in on some more details about the Equinox class and why I described it as “complicated” yesterday.

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The original contract was with Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries of Nantong City, China, and a total of eight vessels were to have been delivered: four straight deckers and four self-unloaders, all measuring 740′ long by 78′ wide.

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The shipyard built and delivered the first three, Algoma Equinox, Algoma Harvester, and CWB Marquis (now G3 Marquis) on schedule, but then things began to go wrong for the class, and Algoma as a result.

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The shipyard experienced financial troubles for quite a few years, but finally declared bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2015 (literally in the heart of the Equinox constructions), leaving the remaining vessels partially built but unfinished.

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The incomplete hulls were stuck in limbo because Algoma technically didn’t yet own them, so in order to salvage them, Algoma had to individually purchase each unfinished hull and deliver it to another shipyard for completion.

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It wasn’t until early 2017, two years later, that Algoma was able to purchase the hulls at auction and arrange to have them finished and delivered. Those vessels, and the remainder of the class, were constructed at Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group Limited in Jingjiang City, China.

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Seven of the original eight ordered vessels have now been delivered, but the eighth will not be forthcoming. Its contract was cancelled, and Algoma instead turned to Croatia and placed orders for two (now that number is up to four I believe) smaller 650′ Equinox vessels. There’s a whole other issue going on with those, so I’ll have to get into that later.

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Back to the present, we turned forward, where we had finally come upon the heavily laden Presque Isle.

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Although the lighting for bow shots of the Harvester wasn’t optimal this time, I couldn’t have asked for better shots than these that I got of Presque Isle.

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Once again, I was a little trigger happy on my camera with the 1,000 footer.

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The only 1,000′ tug and barge unit operating on the Lakes, the pair is classified as an integrated tug/barge, meaning that both tug and barge are designed to operate with each other, and the tug is designed specifically to fit the unique notch of her barge.

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The barge alone measures 974 feet in length, but with the tug in the notch, the pair comes out at exactly 1,000′.

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Notice in this shot how you can barely see any of the tug’s hull, as it is mostly sandwiched in the barge.

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Presque Isle‘s self-unloading gear is much larger than that of other barges, and I’m not sure why that is, but it certainly makes her more unique.

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This shot gives a perfect angle to see how the tug fits into the barge’s notch, and you can see the whole 26′ of tug that protrude from the barge and classify the pair as a 1,000 footer.

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We were close enough to Presque Isle that you could smell the exhaust from her engines, a smell that I remember well from my trip aboard the James R. Barker (three years ago already!) and have come to love. (P.S. if you go back and read my posts about the trip, excuse how jumbled and confusing they are – my writing skills have thankfully improved significantly since then.)

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But now, for the fun part – Algoma Harvester had arrived, and the two vessels were setting up for a close passing. The channel is not very wide at this location, just below Six Mile Point, so some skilled ship driving was necessary.

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We followed closely in Presque Isle‘s wake, making for some really interesting shots from an angle I really liked.

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This photo and the next one are probably two of my favorites from the whole weekend. I couldn’t have asked for two more contrasting boats in this situation, which make it that much better.

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The ships look further apart then they really were – watching the pass up close was incredibly impressive.

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I grabbed one more shot of the Harvester, although the light this time around was not at all ideal.

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And with one last stern view of Presque Isle, the pass was complete and we headed back to shore to continue on with our day.

There was plenty more to come from June 29, so stay tuned for the next set of photos.