After effectively closing my 2012 shipping season exactly two weeks ago, I was back out for the first time during the “lame duck” period between the January closing and March opening of the Soo Locks way up in the UP. It seemed like forever since I was in the presence of the beautiful Belanger Park scenery I’ve become so accustomed to over the past 10 months.
You know what else I’ve become accustomed to over the past 10 months? The Algosteel. It’s hard to keep a good boat down, and the Steel is staying up late running salt out of Goderich.
She passes another sentimental favorite of mine, the Kaministiqua. But clearly I have an idea of which one blows the other out of the water.
My last capture of the Steel was here, and since then her business on the salt run has persisted. Today she was returning to Goderich from Port Colborne after delivering a salt cargo there.
Algosteel meets fellow classic Ojibway off the Morterm Dock in Windsor, where the latter is in lay-up with a storage load from ADM (where the Kaministiqua is wintering a few hundred feet downriver).
With all this hard work since she began her 2012 season in May, it’s getting increasingly difficult to tell that she got her 5-year survey and a new coat of paint less than a year ago.
Cruiser stern or counter stern? You can’t lose either way!
The tough-as-nails 1966 self-unloader says goodbye to Belanger, and so do I.
But it’s been two weeks – I gotta get more than that. I made a run up to Riverside Park to catch her with the Ambassador Bridge.
And here’s a stern view with the University of Windsor in the background. U of W is becoming more and more of a fixture in my Riverside Park shots…
Well onward she goes again…
The fireboat Curtis Randolph stands on the sidelines watching as ice gathers in her vicinity.
And here are three things that I love getting in the same shot – The Renaissance Center, Ambassador Bridge, and a boat. Even more so when it’s the Steel.
Then I hit up the rocky beach on Belle Isle to make a trio of stops. The CCGS Samuel Risley, which had been waiting in the Belle Isle anchorage, begins her escort into Lake St. Clair.
The Risley is serving as the upper portion of a two-part relay team. The other half is the CCGS Griffon, which escorted the Algosteel from Point Pelee in Lake Erie up to Amherstburg. The Risley will escort her up to Sarnia. They’ll start all over when the tanker AlgoCanada departs Sarnia downbound this week.
The Risley is a tough and good-looking cutter, used for both ATON and icebreaking purposes by the Canadian Coast Guard.
She and the Griffon are used for essentially the same purposes year-round, but they are very different in terms of design.
The “Grizzly” Risley is considered a “light icebreaker”, capable of breaking ice up to two feet thick. She is based in Parry Sound, Ontario but typically spends the winter here on the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers.
She was built in British Columbia in 1985, and has a sister working for the Coast Guard off-lakes, the CCGS Earl Grey.
In some ways she resembles a large anchor-handling supply tug. She is 228 feet long.
At this point I notice that she is getting a considerable head start on the Algosteel heading into Lake St. Clair.
Speak of the devil, look who it is!
The sun shines on the cold Steel as she heads out of the Detroit River full throttle.
At this point she breathes a deep and beautiful 1 long and 2 short salute – not a common gesture from a freighter in this area.
I wave as a thank you for blasting the horn, and got a hearty “Hello!” in response from the captain. As you can see in this pic, he’s staring at me with a pair of binoculars. I guess he noticed me at all three locations following him up the river and blew the horn at me. That makes it worth the effort!
Not to say that seeing the Algosteel isn’t enough for me, of course. There’s no boat I’d rather be seeing in the middle of a cold winter.
Especially when there are only four boats left in operation – that’s right, four. Along with the Algosteel, her fleetmates AlgoCanada, Algoeast and Algoma Enterprise are still slaving away as well. The Enterprise is collaborating with the Algosteel on the salt runs, while the other two are hauling petroleum products between Sarnia and Nanticoke, occasionally Sault Ste. Marie as well.
Taking full advantage of legal river speed, the ship makes her way out of the river.
She begins to catch up to the Risley, her escort, as she grows increasingly distant.
They cross paths (at laest from my viewpoint on the island) in a classic winter game of follow the leader on the busiest waterways on the Great Lakes.
She approaches the turn at Windmill Point, and there’s not much else for me to do here.
So until we meet again, if we meet again, adieu Algosteel!
To be honest, the movements of that ship are my livelihood all winter long. There’s not much motivation in following two tankers and the Algoma Enterprise. Hopefully I’ll have photos of something boat-related to post next weekend as well. But no guarantees. See you again whenever!
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