Nearly Home

So, as you’ve seen over the past several days, last Friday I embarked on a one-night boat-hunting trip that took me to Toronto, Niagara Falls (just as a place to stay), Port Colborne, Port Weller, and Hamilton. That’s a lot to do in just two days, especially considering how far it is from where I live in Metro Detroit. On my way home from Niagara Falls on Saturday, I had already stopped the latter three ports all before lunch. Then, I took off all the way across eastern Ontario and pulled into my last stopover shortly before 4:00 PM.

North Slip

It’s Sarnia!!! Long time, no see! Well, not really, it’s been about a month and a half since I was last here, although the lay-up fleet was smaller then. This is my first time actually shooting from this side of the North Slip… I just never knew how to get there before. The battered hull in the foreground is the Mississagi and her fleetmates Calumet and Saginaw are snuggled up behind.

Calumet and Saginaw

Calumet and Saginaw are two vessels with which I am very familiar – Saginaw especially, as she has sent all but one winter here in Sarnia since being reflagged Canadian in 1999.


The fourth vessel in the North Slip is the mighty Michipicoten.

Michipicoten and Mississagi

Built in 1943, Mississagi is the oldest ship in port.

Michipicoten and Mississagi

She and the Michipicoten create quite the “M” mouthful!


Mississagi is now rafted outside of Michipicoten leaving me no opportunity for the bow shots I got last time… but a stern shot will do!


So will this angle on the 698′ long Michipicoten.


She is a ship that has proved to be very elusive for me… I only captured her once in 2012, and don’t really have any good pictures of her in operation.


Now, she is fresh from a drydock visit and coat of paint, and she can’t escape as I finally get some nice shots of her.


The Lower Lakes Towing fleet is full of attractive vessels, and Michipicoten is no exception.


The same can be said for the Saginaw just down the slip.


The 639′ long Saginaw was built in 1953, making her one year younger than the Michipicoten.

Calumet and Saginaw

Calumet was built in 1973, so she is 20 years younger than Saginaw. Also, Calumet is the only U.S.-flag ship wintering in Sarnia.


This end of the North Slip is usually only used during the winter by Canada Steamship Lines vessels, but this year they have ships in Owen Sound and Toledo instead, leaving this spot open for Lower Lakes Towing to dock two hardworking vessels in need of a long rest.

Kailary and Michipicoten

Meanwhile, this end of the slip – the north end – is almost always used by LLT during the winter months. It was just two winters ago that the Michipicoten was repowered from steam to diesel at this same dock. Kailary, a pleasure tug from Port Dover, shares the slip as well this winter.


Michipicoten has slightly unusual stern lines for a 1950s laker, due to her being built on the east coast by Bethlehem Shipbuilding in Sparrows Point, Maryland.


She was one of three sisters, but now only two survive and the Michipicoten is the only one powered by her own engines – making her a unique member of the Great Lakes fleet of freighters.

Menasha and Lime Island

Moving on to the Cargill Slip, the tugs Menasha and Lime Island are the final tugs of a trip that included a lot of them. There’s nothing that makes me happier on a trip such as this than coming across tugs I didn’t expect to see… but I did expect these two (most of the “surprise” tugs came earlier in the trip).

Peter R. Cresswell

The dirty Peter R. Cresswell, one of 16 Algoma vessels I caught on this trip, sits in her winter rest. All that awaits the 1982-built Cresswell in 2013 is another season of carrying cement clinker, salt and a few stone and ore cargoes on the side. By the end of the year, her hull will look even worse than it does now – if that’s possible.

Peter R. Cresswell

The towers over the 78′ long Menasha – because freighters are in charge!


With the Cresswell is her boxy fleetmate Algosoo. She towers over the fish tug Evalina.

Algosoo and Peter R. Cresswell

The Algosoo, covered in rust from head to toe, is headed to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin next month to be drydocked. Hopefully she will get new paint as well. The Cresswell was not repainted during her last drydock visit.

Algosoo and Peter R. Cresswell

Look, just enough room to squeeze between!

Peter R. Cresswell and Algosoo

Cars were obscuring all my bow views of the two ships, so this was the best I could get.


At the Sydney E. Smith Dock, the 640′ Algorail is still here, looking rusty.


Algoma’s active fleet longevity leader, the 1968-built Rail has had no work whatsoever around her all winter.

Saginaw and Calumet

Across the harbor, I get my stern view of the Saginaw and Calumet – one of them is definitely prettier than the other. Also, peeking through is a sliver of the Mississagi‘s bow, which is all you’ll see of her front end.


Down at the Imperial Refinery, the tanker Algosea has come out of lay-up to begin her 2013 season. She is seen loading her first cargo of the season with the Algorail‘s stern line in the foreground.


Well, now I’ve done my usual mosey around Sarnia harbor, and now what? It’s about 5:00 PM and it’s been a long day. Four ports, a lot of boats and over 1,000 pictures taken.


Now it’s time to cross the border and finish the drive home.

Thanks for sticking through this long post – 30 photos when I usually make 25 my limit. This two-day saga, most of it coming on Saturday, 2/23, is over. I hope you enjoyed it!

I don’t know whether or not I’ll be visiting more ports during the winter, but regardless, the next step is the 2013 shipping season… it can’t get here soon enough (although I do love winter weather). But that’s all, this journey is finished, and I had a blast on it.

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6 thoughts on “Nearly Home

  1. Pingback: Orange Juice | tugster: a waterblog

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