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…
After the Algoma Buffalo passed upbound on her way to the locks, we had just one more vessel to wait for.
That vessel was Lower Lakes’ classic Ojibway.
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.
Ojibway is one of my favorite Canadian vessels, purely because I love her classic lines and design.
This is the last photo I’ll share that features the Sugar Islander II, I promise.
I believe the vessel was headed to Thunder Bay for a load of grain on this trip, but I’m not entirely sure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’d never caught the 1,000 footer in Sault Ste. Marie before though, so I was happy for a change of scenery.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And now the time has come to say our goodbyes to Walter J. McCarthy Jr., and Sault Ste. Marie as a whole.
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.