Sunday, August 31, 2008


The Flinterland passed down bound here with wind turbine parts on Friday. I found an interesting fact about its intended destination on the web site (8/29 News Channel section).

The Flinterland is heading to Brazil with 40.7-yard blades manufactured at the LM Glasfiber plant in Grand Forks, N.D. According to Boatnerd, these "came in pairs on semi-trucks and are bound for a new $90 million IMPSA Wind plant in Suape, Brazil."

The Flinterland should reach Brazil by the middle of September. There are two other ships involved in this project and both have passed here recently: BBC Plata and SCl Bern.

When I taught 7th grade, I used Great Lakes shipping to teach exports and imports. These ships would have made a good lesson.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Edward L. Ryerson

The Edward L. Ryerson cannot travel through the river without causing some excitement. This afternoon I was resting after a trip to the Chippewa County Fair, which, by the way, was wonderful. I was awakened by several boat whistles. It turns out the Ryerson was up bound and several other ships in the system were saluting her.

So far today, we have seen the Pere Marquette 41, Algosar, American Spirit, American Republic, Frontenac, St. Clair and the Indiana Harbor. It isn't even 5 PM yet so there might be more excitement to come.

With absolutely perfect weather, I wish all boat watchers could join me today relaxing and enjoying the beauty of our spot on the St. Marys River.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Presque Isle & More

Yesterday was a quiet day here on the St. Marys River. The day started with the down bound passage of the Lake Guardian, which is a research vessel of the Environmental Protection Agency.
There is a website that describes the work of this boat. You can find it at

Also down bound on Thursday was the American Victory and Paul R. Tregurtha. Up bound was the Pineglen, Algolake and Presque Isle.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cool Morning on the River

Our last couple of nights have been very cool here in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. This morning we awoke to a very foggy river because the air temperature was much cooler than the water. Right now the water is around 65 degrees and our morning temperature here was around 40. The result was zero visibility out front. I believe the ship in the picture I took is the John B. Aird coming out of the fog.

We were up by the Locks having dinner tonight and saw the Vancouverborg entering the Locks. It is a beautiful ship that sails out of the Netherlands. On-line shipping records show that the Vancouverborg arrived in Duluth last Friday to load at General Mills. Do you think it is loaded with Cheerios?

We also saw the SCL Bern which is operated out of Basel, Switzerland.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday Wasn't So Quiet After All

Sunday late afternoon we had 2 down bound boats make anchor out front and it gave us an interesting look at these boats.

The American Century, while down bound, needed to face the current to anchor so the ship turned around in the river and backed into the anchorage area. What a treat to see this maneuvering.

It wasn't long before the American Century was joined by the Philip R. Clarke.

I can only speculate on the case of the stoppage but the water levels through the Rock Cut were very low. There had been a strong northwest wind all day and the on-line water level monitoring site showed the water level was at datum in the Rock Cut.

Once the wind subsided, the water levels rose and the boats resumed their journeys. The Clarke left around 10 PM and the American Century proceeded down stream at 3 AM.

One other interesting tidbit-the Avenger IV passed down bound after dark. But I heard the call-in at 9 Mile on the scanner. While talking with Soo Traffic, the captain was asked how many coils of steel they were transporting. The captain indicated they were carrying 400 coils of steel. That represents a lot of money and weight.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dunbar Park for Boat Watching

We stopped by Dunbar Park today while taking my parents for a picnic. Not only is it a nice picnic site, it is a good boat watching park.

Ships headed down bound pass close enough for pictures just before they head through the Rock Cut.

We observed the Canadian Leader while eating our lunch.
Also passing our place today has been the Kaye E. Barker, Saginaw, and the Robert S. Pierson.

It has been a quiet cool day here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday, August 23

My plans today are to spend the entire day working in the yard. As a consequence, I'll be able to watch the boats all day. So I will periodically update this blog with what is passing by out front.

I awoke to see a beautifully lighted ship just before 6 AM but it was too dark to identify it. After a heavy rainstorm this morning, we have cool and sunny for the afternoon.

8:20-Burns Harbor passed down bound
9:15 AM Lee A. Tregurtha-down bound
11:50 AM St. Clair-down bound
2:11 PM CSL Niagara- up bound
3:45 PM Edgar B. Speer-up bound
4:08 PM Ojibway Down Bound
6:05 PM H. Lee White-Up bound

Friday, August 22, 2008

John G. Munson

We am finally back at our cabin on the St. Marys River today. It is a relief to leave the high humidity levels from down state and feel the cool breeze off the river.

The John G. Munson just passed up bound. According to, the Munson loaded coal at Sandusky, Ohio and is on the way to Ontonagon, Michigan to unload and then is proceeding to Two Harbors, Minnesota.

The Duluth Shipping News tells us that the Munson is: "Expected to arrive Two Harbors at 07:30 on Sunday, August 24 for DM&IR to load iron ore pellets N2 & SL. Note: Coming from Ontonagon MI -discharging on 8/23/c.18:00."

Also by tonight is the American Mariner and BBC Plata which sails out of Germany.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Share the Sault Begins

Dear Reader, Since I began writing this blog in June, many readers have written and asked for suggestions of other things to do in the Sault besides boat watching.

I love talking about the Sault because there is so much to do there. I try and attend as many activities as possible. Since I also love to write, I decided to start a new blog that will feature what I have been doing at the Sault.

In the new blog, I will feature activities to enjoy, places to eat, interesting places to visit and observe. For example, did you know there is a house designed and built by an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright in the Sault? Also, did you know the flowers blooming in the Sault right now and brighter and more vibrant than flowers in the Lower Peninsula? I will explain why that is in a future blog.

You can find the blog at I will also put a link to it in the sidebar of this blog.

I hope you enjoy this new effort on my part and as always, I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cliffs Victory

When I was growing up and living on the St. Marys River, there were ships that were favorites of local residents. The Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company ships were some of those favorites.

I had forgotten about the Cleveland Cliffs vessels until the Cliffs Victory was featured on the site this week in the Historical Perspectives Gallery. Go there for an interesting discussion and photo.

I remember watching the Cliffs Victory pass by in the 1950's. This would have been the time when high quality iron deposits were being exhausted. The Cleveland-Cliffs Company has been at the forefront of Great Lakes shipping. The company has been in operation for 160 years and is still has mining operations but they no longer are involved in the shipping industry. You can read about it at their web site.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Web Cams

I have had to leave my peaceful cabin on the St. Marys River for a few days. So I have been trying to find Internet ways to view the river and shipping. Now a web cam is not a great substitute for actually sitting in the front yard and watching the boats go by. But for right now, that's the best I can do. I'll be back at the Soo late next week.

I will put links to the web cams in the sidebar of the blog.

Please feel free to share any web cams that you have found with our blog community.

Friday, August 15, 2008

J.P. Morgan Jr.

I found this photo of the J.P. Morgan Jr. in some items that were in my aunt's estate. Notice the extensive damage showing on the boat. Some investigation showed me that this damage occurred when the J.P. Morgan Jr. collided head-on with the 480 foot freighter Crete on June 23, 1948 in dense fog off the Devil's Island in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. The Morgan was loaded with almost 13,000 tons or ore and down bound while the Crete was up bound in ballast. The pilot house and forward crew quarters of the Morgan Jr. were severely damaged.

If any of you have additional information about the Morgan, please share it with us in the comment section or email it to me at

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trip to Whitefish Point

The past two weeks our entire family has been visiting our cabin on the river. We had great fun in the water with kayaking, tubing, skiing, riding wave runners and most of all boat watching. But one day, my son, his wife and 4 children went to the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. My daughter-in-law graciously agreed to write for this blog and share their day with us.

"Today the sun is shining, beautiful clouds in the sky, a gentle breeze, a wonderful day to go to Whitefish Point to go the Shipwreck Museum. We headed there prepared with our picnic food, sweatshirts, cameras, and smiles as we all looked forward to what we would see, learn, and experience.

Upon arrival, we went into the main building to purchase our tickets and take a tour of the many shipwrecks that have taken place at Whitefish Point over the years. There was a story for each ship with artifacts, drawings, models, and statistics. The exhibits seem so real life and the Madelynn kept asking how they get the people to look so real. On the way home, Jack said that he could not understand how the scuba divers who were hanging from the ceiling were able to stay still so long. After some explanation, Jack came to realize that the “people” in the exhibits were not real.

It was so interesting to learn the history of exploration of Lake Superior and the “Graveyard of Lake Superior”. The highlight of the museum for Jay was the Edmund Fitzgerald bell that they erected in July of 1995. We went into a building next door to watch a film which highlights the history of Ol’ Fitz along with the last voyage, and brining up the bell for the family of those lost on that cold stormy night in November of 1975.

We then went into a building where the light keeper lived with his wife, children, and grandchildren. The rooms are all set up with those “real people” again. The kids really enjoyed learning about the way that they lived. The kids each picked out a room for themselves that they would claim as their own to have. I think I ended up with the Kitchen. Anna was the most impressed because Anna was the name of the wife of the light keeper. She wanted to know all about that Anna and what she did.

After that we went to the coast guard house which displays the rescue efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard. It is so fascinating to learn about the techniques, equipment, and history of their role in searching the waters of Whitefish Point.

Walking to the other side of the parking lot, we headed into the Wild Bird Observatory Headquarters. Inside is a gift shop featuring a lot of wildlife displays. In an adjoining room was the Wild Bird Observatory which provided us with a lot of information on the migration of bird species. There were many photos, mounts, and a chart listing the daily sightings of numerous species of birds during this springs migration. Tom really enjoyed seeing the information on the different wildlife.

Per Jay’s request, we headed to the main gift shop. They were full of so many different and exciting things. I personally was attracted to the art on the walls. I always enjoy paintings of the ships and Great Lakes. The kids really enjoyed walking around looking at all of treasures that were right in front of their eyes. We bribed the kids out of the gift shop by promising to take them to the beach back behind the museum. We walked along the sand trail to the boardwalk and saw a beautiful scene of majestic Lake Superior with a ship in its water. It was a picture perfect scene with the blue sky, sun shining, water so blue, and the ship plowing through the waters.

We let the kids play and look for rocks along the beach. The kids had such a great time playing in the water, making towers of sand, and throwing rocks. The waves kept crashing in and ended up getting the kids clothes all wet (that’s what they told me). We let them each keep a few of their favorite rocks to bring home. With four sopping wet children, rocks in our pockets, sand on our feet, and the wind blowing on our faces, we all headed back to our van with the best treasure of all, our memories of Whitefish Point."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Robert S. Pierson

I'm just watching the Robert S. Pierson go down bound. I don't recall seeing this ship before. Research on www. confirmed that this is a new name for an old ship.

The Pierson was formerly the Wolverine from 1974 - Feb. 14, 2008. The Wolverine was renamed in honor of Mr. Robert Scott Pierson, who died December 23, 2007 at age 71, Pierson was very active in the Canadian shipping industry.

Another interesting sight was the CSL Taddoussac sailing under a rainbow that stretched over Sugar Island. I wonder if she found the pot of gold?

Friday, August 8, 2008


The Daniella passed down bound yesterday. It was the first time I had seen that ship but from research, I see that the Daniella has been sailing in the Great Lakes for years.

Daniella is a heavy lift vessel from the Netherlands. I did find one item from the Duluth Shipping News that showed the Daniella bringing in heavy equipment that was to be transported to western Canada.

You can find more information about the Daniella at

The weather has been absolutely beautiful and we are spending lots of time on the water. My grandchildren are visiting and becoming great little boat watchers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Daniella brought 14 crates and one 193.4 metric ton high pressure container vessel (above) to the Port Terminal on December 1, 2004. The cargo was discharged at Lake Superior Warehousing Co., Inc. The large piece was lowered onto a special rail car that will carry it to Fort McMurray, north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. There it will be used in a massive oil sands extraction project.

Boat Watching Habits

How do you keep track of the boats you have seen? Or maybe a better question is, Do you keep track of the boats you have seen?

I don't admit this to many people but I do write down every boat I actually see. It started with a notebook list. The first few years were done by hand. But as I got more computer literate, I began a spreadsheet listing the names, whether they were up bound or down bound, and any interesting facts noted. I am now in my 10th summer of this list making.

I know this is probably obsessive but I enjoy it.

If any of you have interesting methods, please share it with us.

Yesterday was a busy traffic day. The Cason J. Calloway was up bound and shortly north of here it sounded three long and two short whistles. This is a formal salute. I was expecting to see a boat coming down bound that the Calloway was meeting but it never happened.

I'm thinking that maybe the Calloway was saluting the summer cabin of Roger LeLievre, the editor and publisher of our favorite ship book, Know Your Ships.

Other ship sighted were
Edward L. Ryerson
Joseph L. Block
Walter J. McCarthy Jr.
American Fortitude

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Three Generations Enjoy the Soo

Yesterday was a very fun day. My son, his wife and four children are here from down state so we all took a Soo Locks Boat Tour. The kids got to see the Locks up close and were fascinated by our time going up while the lock filled with water. The Soo Locks are really an engineering marvel.

We also viewed several freighters up close. The American Victory was heading down bound as we left the Tour dock giving us a great view. The we saw the Yankcanuck being loaded with steel coils at Algoma Steel. Later in the day, it passed our place on the river. That gave the kids a good look at commerce on the river.

After the Soo Locks Boat Tour, we went to the LSSU Aquatic Research Lab. Here the staff does research on Atlantic salmon and raise them for later release into the river. They currently have 50,000 + 8 month old fish that will be released in the future. You can see their fish cam which is in the river outside the lab for a fascinating view of river fish. ( You will see lots of salmon but also an occasion sucker, walleye, carp and anything else that swims in the river including lamprey.

There is never a lack of activities for the grandchildren to enjoy here. Today we have Art Festival, John Johnston House with David Stanaway and Susan Askwith. Tonight we're heading to Brimley for our annual fish dinner.

Later in the day, we also saw the Kathryn Spirit which was my first sighting of that boat under that name. It anchored out front about 9 PM last night and was gone this when we got up this morning. The Coast Guard ice breaker the Neah Bay was up bound possibly returning from the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Han. Also sighted was the Lee A. Tregurtha, CSL Taddoussac, and the Algosar.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Boat & A Train

Last night we were in the Soo driving our
grandchildren down Portage Street to see the fountain, the Locks and to drive to West Pier looking for boats. We had a double-treat.

The Arthur M. Anderson was coming into the Locks but there was also a train waiting to cross from Canada. The train bridge lowered into place across the water after the Anderson had moved into the Locks. So the kids saw both a boat and a train.

During the afternoon we saw the Edward L. Ryerson go up bound. We followed her into the Soo where she was met by several formal salutes. We are always happy to see the Ryerson.

Also observed on the river Sunday was the Buffalo and the Saginaw.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Five Short Blasts

Saturday was a fairly busy day on the river.

Interesting to watch:

  • The Burns Harbor was down bound when the Canadian Olympic overtook her and passed.

  • Later the Cedarglen was coming up bound when she sounded five short blasts on her whistle. This is the signal for danger. There was a small recreational boat that was getting too close. Ship captains do not like small boats moving in their water. When scanners were in use, we would hear occasionally hear a captain radio the Coast Guard complaining about this. What a danger these small boats are to the huge, slow moving boats.

We also saw the Stewart J. Cort, American Spirit, Canadian Leader, Kaye E. Barker, Yankcanuck, Joseph H. Thompson and the H.Lee White.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Three 'Footers' In A Row

Yesterday morning we had the treat of viewing three 'footers' (1,000 foot vessels) in succession.

It began early with the Edgar B. Speer going down bound in the early morning mist. We have had beautiful sunrises this week. The sun comes over Sugar Island and makes what we call 'diamonds on the water', sunlight reflecting on the slightly rippling water.

Not long after that the Indiana Harbor made her way up the river to be followed by the Walter J. McCarthy Jr down bound.
The rest of the day saw the Birchglen, Tim S. Dool and the Charles M. Beeghley, all down bound and the Michipicoten passing up.

The day finished with another thousand footer, the American Century. We saw her up bound at Mission Point when we were returning from my 40 Year Class reunion in the Soo.

Photo 8-2-08 St. Marys River

Friday, August 1, 2008

Adam E. Cornelius

One of my favorite boat watching spots is at Clyde's Drive-In near Mission Point in Sault Ste. Marie. Not only are the boats very close but Clyde's has some of the best hamburgers in the area that are delivered to your car by a carhop. Once we get our order, we drive across the parking lot to be at the water's edge.

Last night we saw the Adam E. Cornelius pass down bound. Research told me that the Adam E. Cornelius was built in 1973 and named M/V Roger M. Kyes. It was renamed in 1989 to honor American Steamship Company co-founder and former chairman, Adam E. Cornelius.

The John J. Boland was named in honor of the other American Steamship co-founder.