Friday, June 27, 2008

Up Close & Personal

Today was Engineer's Day at the Soo Locks. That means the public is admitted to parts of the Locks complex that are usually off limits. It was possible to see boats lock thru from a new vantage point. I saw the Algosoo downbound.

The Soo Locks Visitor Center has a new way to follow the progress of boats. The AIS system has a display that shows current real time location and direction of ships.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Day for Boat Watchers

Friday, June 27, is a big day for boat watchers here at the Soo. It is Engineer's Days at the Soo Locks. This means it is the annual open house and you can see portions of the Locks that are normally closed to the public. This is the best way to get up close and personal with the Locks and any ships that happen to be locking through. The Locks are open 10 AM to 4 PM.

The Edison Sault Hydroelectric Power Plant and LSSU Aquatics Lab are also holding open houses and are very interesting to visit.

All three open houses are free.

If any of you boat watchers have additional facts or interesting stories to share, please feel free to email me directly at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tim S. Dool

When the Tim S. Dool passed upbound this morning, I was sure I hadn't heard that unusual name before. With a little investigating, I found I was right. The Algoville was renamed the Tim S. Dool just 3 weeks ago. It is owned by the Algoma Central Corporation and is named after its former president and CEO on the occasion of his retirement after 31 years with the company.

In addition to its new name, the boat also has a new engine that is 'more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly." (

The Tim S. Dool recently unloaded iron ore in Hamilton, Ontario and is now are her way to Minnesota to load with iron ore.

The Algoma Central Railway was incorporated in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in 1899 and still maintains the largest Canadian flag shipping company on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. It has ships sailing in all 5 Great Lakes.

There are many great photos of this boat at

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fog is lifting quickly

The fog is burning off in a manner of minutes. The Canadian Transport is anchored out front and is appearing as if it is in a dream.

The river system is about to open again and the boats can proceed safely to their destination.

Fogged In

The River System is closed this morning from Mud Lake to the Locks due to fog.

It wasn't necessary for us to turn on the scanner to learn this because about 4 AM, the boats started blowing their whistles a single blast repeated every 10 minutes or so.

Our house guests were awaken and wondered what was going on. We assured them it was just fog and would be lifting soon. However, it is 9:30 AM and I just heard a boat report that visibility is at 400 feet. So the fog is still very dense.

The calm wind with a high humidity is causing this river fog that doesn't seem to be anywhere else.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Presque Isle

While sitting at the Sugar Island ferry dock enjoying dinner, we saw the transport of a mobile home. This was accomplished by backing the mobile home onto the ferry and then turning the ferry around in the river.

On the way home, we got to see the Presque Isle. This is a unique configuration for a 1,000 foot ship. It is an intergrated tug that is 153 feet with the remainder of the ship making up the 1,000 foot. I was able to take this picture of the big boat.

We also saw the following today: St. Clair, James R. Barker, American Courage, Herbert C. Jackson, Frontenac, Roger Blough, Yancanuck, Walter J. McCarthy Jr.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Edgar B. Speer

After being away from the river all day, I was so pleased to see the Edgar B. Speer down bound tonight. It is always a magnificent sight to see the beautiful ship gliding quietly through the water. By checking the location of the Great Lakes fleet, I found that the Speer loaded in Two Harbors yesterday and is due in Gary, Indiana on Tuesday. She will be returning past here and on to Two Harbors later this week. She is due back in Two Harbors on the 27th. The photo I'm posting here is from

Saturday, June 21, 2008


On June 18, 2008, the Asiaborg was up bound past here. The ship did not appear in my ship bible, "Know Your Ships". However, an Internet search showed that it was member of the Wagenborg Shipping family from the Netherlands. Further investigation showed that this is the Asiaborg's second trip to the Great Lakes. Early in May and then again this week she was delivering wind turbine parts from Siemans in Denmark and then loading with grain before departing. You can see some good pictures from Duluth at this site:
There are several sister ships in this fleet that are common sights on the Great Lakes.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Arthur M. Anderson On The Move

Since I last blogged about the Arthur M. Anderson, she has been a busy ship. She passed by here down bound last week. The Anderson took a load of iron ore to Gary, Indiana. After discharging the ore, she went to South Chicago to pick up a load of coal destined for Green Bay, Wisconsin. On June 18th after unloading the coal in Green Bay, she proceeded to Cedarville/Port Dolomite for a load of limestone. She passed by our place this morning on her way to Duluth. She is expected on June 21 to discharge the limestone and then on to Two Harbors for another load of iron ore pellets.

This work horse should be back by the Soo around the 24th of June.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Parking Lot

Last night we had an interesting experience here on the river. The Saginaw was down bound when it was determined that it must anchor for some reason.

This spot in the river has an anchorage area adjacent to the shipping channel.

The Saginaw wanted to pull into the anchorage area and drop anchor. However, to anchor in the current of the river, the ship must be facing up bound. So she turned around in the river, dropped anchor in the anchorage area and let the current turn her stern all the way around.

Which means that for a few minutes, the Saginaw was at a 90 degree angle to the channel. An interesting sight to watch. The picture here is fuzzy but you can get an idea of the sight.

After a few hours, the Saginaw turned down river and continued on her way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

History in the River

Today was a busy day out front. One of the most interesting ships that passed was the American Victory. This ship was formerly the Middletown but even before that the ship had an historical past. The American Victory is an appropriate name for her because in 1942 she was a tanker and saw action in WWII as the Neshani. After taking hits from the enemies, she returned to the US and was put into service on the Great Lakes. You can read her interesting story at Search under American Victory for a detailed history.

Another interesting passage today was the Asiaborg. She doesn't appear in the Know Your Ships book, which is my 'bible' for information on ships. Through searching the web, I found it is a brand new ship in the Wagenborg line out of the Netherlands.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Still the Charles M. Beeghly

Today the river traffic seemed slow but sometimes that is because I am so busy. It was a cool, rainy day here in the north country and so I chose to spend some time in town attending a movie.

Ships that I did see were the Buffalo, St. Clair, H. Lee White, Algocape, and the Charles M. Beeghly. The Beeghly is one of my favorites because it is one of the old time designs. I was reading today that in 2007, the Beeghly was renamed the James L. Oberstar after a long-time Minnesota congressman who has promoted Great Lakes shipping. However, after the ship was renamed, Oberstar requested that the name remain the Beeghly. He felt that is was inappropriate for his name to be used.
I have added My Boatwatching Spreadsheet as a link so you can see a real-time spreadsheet of the boats I observe here on the river.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I awoke this morning to see the Edwin H. Gott sliding silently through the rose water of the river. The reflection of the sun on the water from the beautiful sunrise made the river glow. This spot on the St. Marys River is very quiet in the morning. Even the Canada, geese with their scores of young, feed without the typical honking and noise. Very often the geese can get all the way into our yard before we are aware of their presence. The Gott was heading downbound after having picked up a load in Duluth on Saturday.

This busy day on the river also included the saltie Eider which sails under a Chinese flag from Hong Kong. Other ships passing included the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin, Quebecois and American Courage. The U.S. Coast Guard Katmai Bay was working out in front of our place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Arthur M. Anderson

There is lots of action on the St. Mary’s River today. There were two ‘footers’ (1,000 ft. ships) down bound-the American Spirit and the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. Both ships are owned by the American Steamship Co. and haul between Two Harbors & Superior Wisconsin and Chicago.
Up bound, we had Lee A. Tregurtha, John G. Munson and Arthur M. Anderson. The Anderson is expected in Duluth on Wednesday, June 11 with a load of limestone. Anderson then picks up a load of iron ore pellets on June 12. So you can expect to see her back in the Locks later this week or early next week.
For you history buffs, the Arthur M. Anderson is the ship that was following the Edmund Fitzgerald when it went down in 1975.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008