Merry Montrealais

Today is the first day of my winter break, but that doesn’t mean I slept in. I got up before 7 and hit the road at 7:30 for an early one.

St. Clair

My destination was St. Clair, Michigan… specifically Palmer Park, which is nicely decorated for Christmas. This is my second visit to Palmer for boatwatching; the other came in the early morning as well, just this past May.

St. Clair

St. Clair also got a nice dusting of frost overnight, as it seems winter is finally returning after a mild start to the month.

St. Clair

Palmer Park is nice because of its open, public access, and the fact that it is very long and has a ton of shoreline. And unlike some parks in Detroit I could name, it’s very well maintained.

Algoma Montrealais

Around 9:10 AM, my ship comes in. Yes, I know, we’ve been through this before.

Algoma Montrealais

You may remember December 22nd, 2013: I went up to Port Huron in the morning to catch the Algoma Montrealais steaming through the fog on her final upbound transit of the St. Clair River. 363 days later, here I am doing the exact same thing, except it’s St. Clair, there’s no fog, and this time it really is her last upbound trip.

Algoma Montrealais

The rumors that predicted the Montrealais‘s demise at the end of last season were correct, but they couldn’t have accounted for the unexpected amount of ice-related delays that the Great Lakes experienced in early 2014. So, thanks to all the winter storms and polar vortexes, the Algoma Montrealais put death off for another year and fitted out in late June.

Algoma Montrealais

I was at the Welland Canal when she passed through on her first trip of the season, but since then, I hadn’t seen her until today. I was starting to think I might never see her again when she passed Detroit at 6:00 this morning, but the timing worked out and I made the run up to St. Clair.

Algoma Montrealais

The mariner’s wife waves at the beautiful steamship that has passed this spot so many times during her 52-year career. The ship responded with a bellowing salute.

Algoma Montrealais

Running quickly with a bone in her teeth, she wasted no time moving through the rivers, without even a fuel stop.

Algoma Montrealais

On this final upbound trip, the Montrealais is headed to Thunder Bay, Ontario. She will load grain there, and then say goodbye to the Great Lakes as she heads for Trois-Rivières, Québec to unload.

Algoma Montrealais

He’s kind of hard to see, but the captain stepped out of the wheelhouse to give a friendly wave to the onlookers at Palmer Park.

Algoma Montrealais

When the Montrealais lays up for the final time, a historic era in Canadian history will come to a close – there will be no more steam-powered cargo ships in Canada.

Algoma Montrealais

In addition to the two posts I’ve already linked to, I did my biggest Montrealais feature in November 2013, when I visited her as she was loading in Sarnia.

Algoma Montrealais

I’m so used to shooting all of these angles and objects on the Montrealais – her sharp bow, handsome pilothouse, big stack, and curvy stern. But knowing that this could be the last time was saddening. I’ll only have one more chance to see her again.

Algoma Montrealais

And after she’s gone, there will be very few truly classic Canadian-built lakers left – most of which have self-unloading gear.

Algoma Montrealais

But the Montrealais doesn’t need no stinkin’ self-unloading gear – not for 54 years of carrying grain, ore, cement, and whatever else they’ve needed to fill her holds with.

Algoma Montrelais

Currently, she is the second-oldest Canadian-built laker in service, between the cement carriers English River and Stephen B. Roman. Next year, the Roman will move up a spot, and the Algosteel will become the third-oldest.

Algoma Montrealais

And next year, there will be no more photos like this. No more Canadian steamers.

Algoma Montrealais

So, whether this is our last meeting or not, adieu Algoma Montrealais…. and a very merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your crew.

Algoma Montrealais

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Harvesting Nogat

My boatwatching excursion on Saturday resulted in two posts, but I’ll try to get everything from Sunday in this one. From a weather perspective, Sunday was the same as Saturday: cloudy, foggy, and dim. Except that on Sunday, it was over 50 degrees out! After a snowy November, this December is feeling more like Spring than anything else.

Tecumseh

After 24 hours, the scene at Belanger Park is much the same: Tecumseh is still unloading at ADM,

Lubie and Andean

And Lubie is still waiting in the anchorage. Except now, she has been joined by the AndeanAndean and I got to know each other pretty well back in the Summer.

Lubie

Here’s a close-up of the Lubie, since it was slightly clearer than the day before.

Algoma Harvester

Shortly after, the Algoma Harvester emerges.

Algoma Harvester

This is my first time seeing the Harvester, as she is brand-new after being delivered from China during the summer.

Algoma Harvester

The Harvester is the second Equinox-class vessel to be delivered to Algoma, following none other but the Algoma Equinox.

Lubie and Harvester

While I’m not a big fan of the ship’s looks, I am a fan of her name. It represents her role in the grain trade, and also just has a good sound to it.

Algoma Harvester

The Harvester and Lubie compare sterns. I actually might prefer the saltie.

Algoma Harvester

Here’s your wide shot of the ship. The raised deck supports will be removed this winter.

Tecumseh & Harvester

The Equinox-class ships have a very unique bow shape – at the top it’s blunt and round, but gets thinner as you move down, despite not having a bulbous bow. Whatever the design is, it must increase hull efficiency.

Algoma Harvester

Things I like about her (besides the name) are the white forecastle, the logo placement, and the name placement, as well as the big letters it’s painted in. Exactly how it should be done.

Harvester & Tecumseh

Notice the short & stubby stack on the Harvester, while the Tecumseh‘s is tall and pointy.

Algoma Harvester

The windows in her wheelhouse, both on the front and sides, are huge.

Algoma Harvester

So while the Harvester certainly won’t win any beauty contests, she is well-suited for fulfilling her purpose: being the most modern & efficient ship on the Great Lakes.

Algoma Harvester

Here’s one more stern close-up of the newbie before she heads off.

Algoma Harvester

And there she goes.

Algoma Harvester

The RenCen is directly behind the ship, but shrouded in fog.

Nogat & Harvester

What’s this? The Harvester meets an unexpected guest on her way to the fuel dock!

Nogat & Harvester

It’s the Nogat, which is apparently a river and not a type of candy.

Nogat

The Polish saltie is heading downbound for the ocean with a grain cargo.

Nogat

Nogat is a sister to her fleetmate Orla, which I caught in April.

Nogat

I like how some vessel owners paint the ship’s names to match the flare of the bow – it gives an impression of speed. Plus – go up to the first two photos of her – it looks straight at a distance.

Nogat & Tecumseh

Nogat decides to engage the Tecumseh in a round of jousting.

Nogat

Notice the courtesy Canada flag flying off the mast.

Nogat

Well, Nogat is heading off and it looks like I’m almost done.

Nogat & Lubie

But first, Nogat meets her younger and larger fleetmate Lubie.

Lubie & Nogat

It’s very rare that I photograph saltie fleetmates together, so this is actually pretty cool to see.

Lubie, Nogat, and Andean

The three vessels form a saltie line… impossible to penetrate!

Nogat & Andean

Anyway, here’s my parting shot of NogatAndean.

Algoma Harvester

And also one of the Algoma Harvester approaching the fuel dock. A few hours there, and then onto Thunder Bay.

That is all from Sunday – a new laker, a late saltie, and a post title that doesn’t really make sense. Sounds like a productive day to me. See you again next weekend.

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Out of the Fog II

This is the second post from this weekend, and I’m picking up where I left off on Saturday afternoon at Belanger Park.

Orion

The Orion re-emerges from the boat launch slip as action unravels in the background.

Great Republic

The Great Republic is vice-president in charge of this action, and is sailing upbound on the foggy river.

Great Republic

The Republic is headed to Green Bay with a coal cargo. Strangely, she was doing the same thing when I last saw her in September.

Orion

Orion, meanwhile, is heading off to her job as she passes the Tecumseh.

Great Republic

The Republic partially hides the Lubie as she gets closer.

Orion

How about one more of the Orion just for fun.

Great Republic

And a shot of the Republic and Lubie together.

Tecumseh & Republic

Great Republic‘s blunt, flared bow contrasts with the pointy, flared one of the Tecumseh.

Great Republic

The ship is still looking good in her first season with stripes, but the white paint bugs me a little.

Republic & Tecumseh

As different as the ship’s bows were, their sterns are even more different. 2 of the most unique on the Great Lakes.

Great Republic

I mentioned this a couple weeks ago, but I really do like when ships have their lights on when it’s dim out.

Great Republic

Christmas lights would have been nice too, but then again it doesn’t feel like December here right now.

Great Republic

I’m wondering what the ladder is that goes up the side of the superstructure… maybe for pilot boarding?

Great Republic

Despite being checked down for the Mistersky fuel dock, the Republic quickly catches the Orion.

Great Republic

And she makes the pass while fading back into the fog.

James R. Barker

After that comes my last ship of the day… and the biggest.

James R. Barker

The 1,004 foot long James R. Barker is making her first appearance on tugboathunter since this pleasant night in October 2012.

Tecumseh & Barker

It’s nice to see James again after such a long drought, but I could have done without the fog.

Tecumseh & Barker

She is returning upbound from Monroe, where she unloaded coal.

James R. Barker

The 1,000 footers, while they are big, are ships I rarely plan my outings around. Although if I go long enough without seeing one, such as with James, I will make an exception (although I suppose the Saginaw was my real reason for going out on Saturday).

James R. Barker

My favorite 1,000 footer is the American Spirit, which is very similar to the Barker. But I haven’t even seen her in over a year.

James R. Barker

As for the Barker herself, she concentrates exclusively in the coal and ore trades. Her ore loads go down Lake Michigan, while her coal loads go down to St. Clair and Monroe (and sometimes just down Lake Superior).

James R. Barker

Oh well… time for stern shots. That means I’m almost done.

James R. Barker

The Great Republic has taken the fuel dock, so the Barker will press on without stopping. I’m not sure if she stopped at one of the St. Clair River fuel docks or not, but I would imagine so.

James R. Barker

Here’s my scenic parting shot, featuring Belanger’s new benches (except the one on the far right… they didn’t replace that one).

Lubie

And I’ll leave you off with a gazebo shot of the Lubie.

That’s it for Saturday, but things happened on Sunday as well, so… stay tuned.

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Out of the Fog

Last weekend, it was cold & sunny. So this weekend, it decided to be warm (relatively) and cloudy. Yet this weekend, there were far more ships to see. So, on Saturday afternoon, I left my comfortable living establishment and headed for Belle Isle.

Saginaw

So, not only was it cloudy, but it was also foggy. Unfortunately for me, the Saginaw is the same color as everything else in this photo. (yes, I posted edited versions on Flickr, but didn’t want to edit the entire set for the blog).

Saginaw

Saginaw was, until yesterday, sitting pretty high on my priority list, since it had been over 2 years since I last caught her in motion.

Saginaw

That’s a shame because I think the Saginaw is in the top three of best-looking active lakers. With her I would include the Hon. James L. Oberstar and Wilfred Sykes.

Saginaw

Saginaw was built in 1953 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding as the John J. Boland for the American Steamship Company.

Saginaw

In 1999 she was sold Canadian, to Lower Lakes Towing, and given her current name. She was repowered from steam to diesel in early 2008.

Saginaw

Saginaw looks regal with her triple deck forward cabins.

Saginaw

However, her A-frame self-unloading system still towers over anything else on the boat.

Saginaw

Her stern is free of all self-unloading equipment, which adds to the boat’s looks.

Saginaw

The classic Saginaw is in her 15th year of service for LLT now. She was the fleet’s second ship, and they now operate 15.

Saginaw

On this trip, the Saginaw is carrying grain to Toledo. Grain is one of her primary cargoes, which is rare to say for a self-unloader.

Saginaw

So with Toledo only a few hours away, I’ll let Saginaw get back to her thing.

Saginaw

Well, maybe one more stern shot…

Saginaw

Okay, now I’m done. After that, I went to the nearby Big Boy for a milkshake to help pass the time. But when the time came, I moved on to my next destination.

Belanger

That destination is Belanger Park in River Rouge. I tend to be there a lot in December, since it’s one of the months where admission is free.

Belanger

This seemed Christmas-y to me… the tree just needs lights.

Lubie

Oh yeah, and the river. I almost forgot about the river.

Lubie

Enjoying her foggy stay in the Ojibway Anchorage is the Polish salty Lubie. She is waiting to load grain at the ADM Elevator, which is currently occupied by the…

Tecumseh

TecumsehSaginaw‘s fleetmate, the Seattle-built laker is unloading grain.

Orion

Suddenly, the cute survey boat Orion pulled out from the Belanger Park boat launch, where it had recently met the water.

Orion

You might notice that her stern reads “Portsmouth, NH”. She belongs to an underwater surveying company from New Hampshire, which has me curious as to who hired her for work on the Detroit River.

Orion and Lubie

And at this moment she appears to just be testing something out, as she just did a couple loops, with the Lubie watching in the background.

Orion

The Orion was built in 2006 and is about 30 feet long.

Orion

She may be the largest vessel that I’ve ever seen launched here at Belanger.

Orion

I’m not sure how well the test worked out for them, but after a few minutes they went back into the slip.

I’ll cut it off here, and pick back up tomorrow with Part 2. Yes, tomorrow’s post will also be foggy.

Red Pine

After last weekend’s very exciting 4-post outburst, I hope you weren’t expecting another big one. Traffic was less interesting this weekend, but today I went down to Belle Isle, just for the sake of not seeing nothing.

Icy rock

The rocks are covered with frozen spray for the first time this season… a sign of what is to come?

Pineglen

In the shorter term, what came was the Pineglen.

Pineglen

This 736 foot long Canadian is heading for Montréal with a cargo of wheat from Thunder Bay.

Pineglen

Pineglen isn’t a regular on this blog, but she makes it on a few times per year. This is our second meeting in 2014.

Pineglen

Pineglen was built in 1985 and sailed as Paterson until 2002.

Pineglen

She is similar in design to the Peter R. Cresswell of the Algoma fleet, except that the Cresswell was converted to a self-unloader. The Pineglen gives you a good idea of what she looked like before that.

Pineglen

Also notable is that the Pineglen was the last freighter built by the legendary Collingwood Shipyards before they closed up shop for good in the 80s. She was the last powered bulk carrier to be built on the Great Lakes for Great Lakes service.

Pineglen

It’s an interesting honor for her to hold, but aside from that distinction, she has hid from the spotlight during the last few years of her career. Once a setter of cargo records, and a fleet flagship, the Pineglen is now just a simple grain carrier and one of the least-versatile (but hardest-working) members of the CSL fleet.

Pineglen

From the lone stack you can tell that she was not built for CSL – all their newbuilds after 1969 had two stacks.

Pineglen

I think either looks fine, although the single stack has a more traditional look to it.

Pineglen

These Belle Isle passages seem to take less and less time the more of them I see. Pineglen is already past and on her way to Montréal.

Pineglen

So I bid farewell to the handsome vessel, and my day is almost done.

Dix

But not quite. I left Belle Isle and went all the way down to Dix Avenue on the Rouge River for a quick stop.

Dix

Just in case you needed proof.

Waterfront Petroleum

The Waterfront Petroleum Terminal has a visitor, which is pretty uncommon nowadays.

A-390

Docked next to the transfer barge LSC-236 is the barge A-390 with her tug Barbara Andrie. The Andrie pair usually operates on Lake Michigan, but visits this side of the state around 10 times per year. Somehow, I’ve missed them every single time.

Barbara Andrie

So I can now check the barge A-390 off my list, finally. That makes me feel a little better about today.

That was it today and that’s all for this weekend – a bit of a dud, I know. Hopefully that December excitement kicks in soon. Anyway, until next time…

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Goodbye November

This is the third and final post with photos from Sunday. Yesterday’s highlighted the Algowood and CSL Tadoussac.

Algonova and Algoeast

After the Tadoussac went by, I moved downriver to the Maritime Center to catch a short break. While there, I shot the tankers Algonova (left) and Algoeast at the Imperial Oil dock in Sarnia.

St. Clair River

But like I said, it was a short break, and by 2:45 I was back at the front range marker. This is the view looking downbound, with the lightship Huron and buoy tender USCGC Hollyhock watching on. It looks more like evening than 2:45.

Range Marker

Apparently the range marker sparked somebody’s poetic fire. However, it looks like the poem was there before the “no defacing sign”.

Pride

Directly across the river is Purdy’s Fishery, which provides mooring for several vessels. This one is the tug PridePride is a busy ship-docking and icebreaking tug in Sarnia and Goderich.

L&R

Purdy’s has their own boats of course, and the biggest is the fish tug L&R. However, her L is missing, so she’s just the &R. A smaller Purdy’s boat sits to the left.

Purdy's boats

Here is the rest of Purdy’s busy fishing fleet. In the water, from left to right, are the Phyl MarleneWilliam J., Mary Dale, and Twyne. The Lisa K. is ashore.

Mike-J

The fish tug Mike-J, not a Purdy vessel, is the fishery’s last tennant.

Algoma Hansa

But while those are nice boats, this is the one I came to see.

Algoma Hansa

My first four ships on Sunday were all one that I hadn’t seen in at least 11 months. But the fifth was one I had never seen, period.

Algoma Hansa

It’s the tanker Algoma Hansa, a newcomer to the Great Lakes.

Algoma Hansa

She was built in 1998 in Alabama as the saltwater tanker Amalienborg. She joined Algoma in 2008, but continued to operate exclusively on saltwater as part of an international tanker pool. In 2013, she visited the Great Lakes for the first time as a saltie. Finally, in July 2014, she was registered Canadian and joined Algoma’s Great Lakes fleet.

Algoma Hansa

Ever since then, I’ve been trying to catch her and add her to my collection. She was the main reason I went to Port Huron on Sunday, although reuniting with the Sam LaudKaministiquaAlgowood, and CSL Tadoussac was nice too.

Algoma Hansa

The Algoma Hansa is a sister to the Algosea, which has been working on the Great Lakes for almost 10 years now.

Algoma Hansa

She is 472 feet long, making her one of the largest tankers on the Great Lakes. Only Sarah Desgagnés and Algoscotia are longer, at 484 and 488 feet, respectively.

Algoma Hansa

The ship is returning from an oil run to Thunder Bay, and is heading back to Sarnia to load.

Algoma Hansa

So, with five under my belt and a new ship checked off the list, I call it a day and head back home. Goodbye Algoma Hansa, goodbye Port Huron, and goodbye November.

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Collingwood Pair

This is part 2 of the photos from Sunday. In part 1 I returned to Port Huron for the first time since early June, and that’s where I will pick up.

Range Light

After the Kaministiqua passed, I had over 90 minutes before my next ship. While waiting, I changed locations, moving slightly downriver to the Fort Gratiot Front Range Marker.

Algowood

Finally, the Algowood emerges from the November haze on Lake Huron, with the saltie Ziemia Cieszynska anchored off on the left.

Algowood

Yesterday’s vessels, the Sam Laud and Kaministiqua, were two that I hadn’t seen in over a year each. Algowood broke the streak, though – it was only 11 months since our last meeting.

Algowood

Algowood is one of the few Algoma self-unloaders that has been elusive for me – and I have been trying to catch her.

Algowood

On this voyage, the Algowood is carrying grain to Baie Comeau, QC.

Algowood

Long runs like Thunder Bay to Baie Comeau may be one reason that I don’t see the Algowood very often – such long routes cause her to pass by me less frequently, which is the same reason that I rarely see vessels such as the Algoma Guardian and Tim S. Dool.

Algowood

However, this sighting leaves the Algoma Mariner and Algoma Transport as the only Algoma self-unloaders that I have yet to see in 2014. The Transport is common and I can probably corral her in December, but the Mariner spends most of her time on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and I haven’t seen her in over two years.

Algowood

But back to the Wood, she was built in 1981 by Collingwood Shipyards, and has had the same name throughout her career. Collingwood is also the ship’s namesake. Algocollingwood would have been more obvious, but that’s also a mouthful.

Algowood

While I prefer classic lakers, I don’t really have a problem with the Algowood‘s looks. She has good proportions and a simple design that isn’t overly boxy. A handsome vessel.

Algowood

Handsome or not, it’s been nice to finally see the Algowood again, and our meeting is about over.

Algowood

Off she goes to Baie Comeau, and now I go back to waiting.

CSL Tadoussac

Next up, and only a short distance behind Algowood, was the CSL Tadoussac. Yet another ship that I haven’t seen in over a year.

CSL Tadoussac

In fact, the Tadoussac has barely even been on this blog since I started it. Just call it chance.

CSL Tadoussac

She was built in Collingwood in 1969, but had her cargo section heavily rebuilt in 2001, including the addition of the extra-wide side tanks.

CSL Tadoussac

The CSL Tadoussac is one of only two ships to wear black, gray, and red paint during a single career while remaining in the CSL fleet. Black from 1969-2000, gray from 2001-2009, and red since 2010.

CSL Tadoussac

Prior to her 2001 rebuilding, her name was just Tadoussac. For some reason, being 3 feet wider earns you the CSL prefix.

CSL Tadoussac

Her big stern is one-of-a-kind on the Great Lakes. Thankfully it lacks the boxiness of the Algosoo and John D. Leitch.

CSL Tadoussac

She is also the only classic freighter on the Great Lakes with two stacks. CSL opted for twin stacks on all of their newbuilds from 1969 to 1985.

CSL Tadoussac

Need another random tidbit? She’s the only laker registered in Collingwood, which is the birthplace of AlgowoodTadoussac, and many other Canadian lakers from 1985 and earlier.

CSL Tadoussac

But the most important fact of all: I finally have some good shots of her now. She continues downbound, headed for Nanticoke, ON to unload taconite.

That will do it for this post. But wait! There are somehow still more photos from Sunday, so stick around for a post tomorrow.

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