Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Living Great Lakes

What is there to do now that winter is setting in? The long winter nights give us a chance to reflect and plan for next summer.

I've been reading a great book about the Great Lakes called "The Living Great Lakes." I have to recommend this book to everyone.

Traverse City author Jerry Dennis wrote this book in 2003 describing a trip he made in 2000. He sailed from Traverse City to Bar Harbor Maine aboard the Malabar, a 100 foot tall-masted schooner that was moving to her new home after being a teaching ship in Traverse City.

Dennis expands his book to include chapters on all 5 Great Lakes. This is more than a story but rather a study on the Great Lakes including history, geology, and biology. This is not a textbook study. Dennis writes with a poet's eye for details and his love for the lakes is very evident.

I will expand on the book in future posts. Please let me know if you have read this book or plan on reading it. I'd love to post reactions from readers. Maybe we could be a cyber-book discussion group.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blog Decisions

I have been writing this blog since the beginning of the summer of 2008. I certainly enjoy sharing with you every day and also hearing comments from many of you. Many of you have shared how you enjoy the blog especially seeing the pictures of the St. Marys River.

We have come to a decision point now. We have closed up our cabin and moved back to our home near Grand Rapids. We will be here until after Christmas. Then we will be leaving for Phoenix, Arizona to spend two months with our daughter out there.

The decision is what to do about this blog. I would like to hear from you readers about what you would prefer to read here. I can do the following:

1. Ask someone in the Sault to report to me what is going on with shipping and then report it to you. I could also use news sources such as to get information.

2. I could write about what is going on in my life no matter where the road takes me.

3. I could turn 'my baby' over to someone else to write until I return to the cabin next April or May.

4. Just stop posting until I'm back on the river.

I'd like to hear from my readers about what you would choose. Thanks for your input.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service-Part 3

The Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial service continued after Rev. Pointer's invocation with comments by Tom Farnquist. This was followed by remarks by MaryMahsem-Seymour. Mary is the daughter of Joseph Mahsem who was a porter on the SS Daniel J. Morrel. The Morrell was shipwrecked on Nov. 29, 1966 in Lake Huron. Mary reflected on the life of a sailor and how meaningful this memorial service was for her as well.

Tom Farnquist then gave us some background on the Fitzgerald and mentioned "there is growing evidence that there was a problem with the ship" as the reason for the shipwreck. Do any of you readers have more information on this?

The Us Coast Guard commander from Sector Sault was scheduled to speak but had to be replaced at the last minute by a deputy commander. Commander Padle (I think that was his name) read the names and position of each of the 29 sailors from the Fitzgerald. After each name was read a person came forward to ring the ship's bell in their honor. This video will show you a short clip from the bell ringing ceremony.

The bell was rung a 30th time in honor of all sailors lost of the Great Lakes. This time Mary Mahsem-Seymour rang the bell for her father and others.

This was an impressive and solemn ceremony. The numbers of sailors lost over the past couple of hundred years is unbelievable.

Carl Behrend then sang 'Amazing Grace' during which the audience spontaneously joined in for the final verse.

The Benediction by given by Bucko Teeple, a Native American spiritual leader. Bucko prayed eloquently combining Native & Christian traditions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sault Hit With Snow

November 19, 2008 The Soo received several inches of beautiful snow today. Thought you would like to see the pictures. What a winter wonderland.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service-Part 2

Last Monday, November 10, 2008, we attended the Great Lakes Mariners Memorial Service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan. It was the 33rd anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald where 29 men lost their lives. The service was meaningful and informative. The service included speakers associated with shipping or shipwrecks.

The service was attended by CPO1 Navy League Cadets from Canada.

The service was opened by Carl Behrend who is a Great Lakes balladeer from Munising, Michigan. He opened by singing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", the song made famous by Gordon Lightfoot. Later in the service, Mr. Behrend sang "Amazing Grace" acapella. His beautiful voice combined with the powerful words really touched the crowd. During the the final verse, the audience spontaneouly joined in with him.

The opening remarks were given by James Spurr, President of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. He spoke about the importance of the water and shipping to human kind. He quoted the oldest poem that has been written down called the Wayfarer which was written around 900 AD.

The next speaker was Rev. Patrick Pointer. Rev. Pointer appeared twice in the program. He gave the invocation as well as presenting two beautiful wood carvings of the Edmund Fitzgerald. His words were so meaningful and really touched my heart. I contacted Rev. Pointer and he was gracious enough to share the words of the invocation with me. There are important enough to share with you. You can contact Rev. Pointer about his award-winning carvings at

I will continue my description of the service in the next blog.

Edmund Fitzgerald Bell Ringing Ceremony

November 10, 2008

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald. We have come here this evening to pay tribute and to remember, not only those who sailed on that great ship, but to honor, and remember those who built, sailed, captained, and crewed the thousands of ships large and small that have sailed these Great Lakes as well as those who dedicated their lives to the Life Saving efforts of those in the United States Life Saving Service, the United States Coast Guard and the many civilians that put their lives in harms way to save the life of another.

For there are thousand upon thousands of lives that will be truly represented here tonight and each one of them has a story. When a ship is lost to these Great Waters, it is not just about one ship and one crew, but it involves many who are left behind and each of them have a story as well. And some how, we are all connected to these many stories. We drive the cars that came from the ore that these ships carried, live in homes that were built with the bricks and lumber they shipped, driven on roads that were provided by their cement and gravel, and the list goes on! Some how we are all connected.

I know that Gordon Lightfoot is very dear to many of you as his song “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” has brought significant attention to Great Lakes Shipping. But there is one line in that song that bothered me for years. It says… “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours.”

Tonight, I have the answer to that perplexing question. His LOVE never left, it has been there all the time! And it is here tonight to heal, to comfort, to draw you near to Him, and to fill you with His presence if you will allow Him to.

The two carvings that I created to dedicate to this ship were carved to encompass the many who were involved over the last 50 years of the history of this ship. The first of the two titled; “Fare Thee Well” depicts the Mighty Fitz as she passes The Great Lakes Iron Works where she was built and launched. On the back of the carving is engraved a verse of Scripture form the Old Testament in the Book of Deuteronomy 28:6 where it says… Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

That Scripture is often quoted when a ship is launched, for everyone knows when you put a ship on the water, whether it is as small as a canoe or a thousand footer there is always the chance it will be lost.

For the past 33 years, this ship has become the “Icon” of the over 6000 ships that have been lost on the Great Lakes alone. For the past 33 years the mystery of the “HOW” and the “WHY” have grown as many seek closure and understanding. The builders, designers, the surviving family members, the rescuers and searchers, and countless others who are represented here in all of these ships that have gone down… know the grief of loss and the bewilderment of the “How” and the “WHY”. Yet God’s Love has been there all the time, and it is here tonight as we come to remember and to honor.

The second of the two carvings is entitled, “FAREWELL.” Often times when a ship is lost no one witnesses what happened or what actually took place and those who have survived are left with the questions of HOW… WHY… and memories of a loved one now gone. And the love of God is there… and the Love of God is here.

There was a small ship on the sea of Galilee in the middle of the night, in the midst of a storm and the lives of those on her were in peril. They called out to Jesus who was in their ship and He calmed the storm… He saved them. The Bible tells us that…For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I cannot help but think in those moments when one finds their life in Greatest Distress, that God would not give them the opportunity to “Call upon the Name of the Lord.” His Love is there… and His Love is HERE!

On the carving entitled, “FAREWELL” I engraved on the back a verse out of the New Testament in hopes to bring comfort and closure not as much to the many stories of the many lives who have been lost to these Great Lakes… but to those who have been left behind… wondering… “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours…?” His Love was there… and His Love is HERE. And for those who were given that great opportunity to Call Upon the Name of the Lord… If they were able to speak to us here tonight… I believe in my heart they would say… something very close to what is engraved on “FAREWELL”

Titus 3:15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all. Amen.

His Love was there… and His Love is Here Tonight… And now I call upon the name of the Lord… SAVE US! Amen… and Amen!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Mariners Memorial Services

Last Monday, November 10, 2008, my husband I had an opportunity to attend the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan. It was a moving and educational experience.

The program stated:
November 10, 1975, the Fitzgerald and her entire crew of 29 men were lost in one of the worst storms in three decades. No one knows why a 729-foot ore carrier could founder so suddenly and mysteriously. The Fitz lies just 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point in 535 feet of water."

We arrived at Whitefish Point in the mid-afternoon so we could take some photos in good light. It was a blustery, cold day.

We went down to the beach on the walkway and saw two boats heading out into the lake.
I recently read The Living Great Lakes by Jerry Dennis. It is a great book for learning about the Great Lakes and their history, biology, geology through Dennis' love for the Lakes. In the book, he describes this time of year on Lake Superior.

"November is the deadliest month. Ask any sailor. It's when the lakes still embrace some of summer's heat, but the air above has turned to winter. A meteorologist for the National Weather Service once calculated that on the average the greatest difference between the temperature of the lakes and the temperature of the air above them occurs on November 10."

This November 10 was windy & cold but not dangerous to shipping. When we arrived there was a rainbow right over this boat but it doesn't show up in the photo.

After taking pictures, we drove into Paradise for dinner. The Berry Patch stayed open late to serve the visitors for the Fitzgerald ceremony. I enjoyed a great pastie in this small restaurant and bakery.

When we returned to Whitefish Point, it was dark and the beacon from the lighthouse was showing bright.

I took this video in the afternoon. You can here the howling wind and the fog horn sounding!

I will write more later about the service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. This was the 33rd anniversary of the sinking of the Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wilfred M. Cohen

The Wilfred M. Cohen was in dry dock last week at McM Marine in the Sault. When I checked there yesterday, it was gone. I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Ships Seen on November 11, 2008

I observed the following ships yesterday at our cabin. It was a busy day for shipping.
Upbound: Algolake, Burns Harbor, J W Shelley
Downbound: Stewart J. Cort, Walter J. McCarty and an unidentified 1,000 footer that slipped by before I could check it out.

The Shelley was not on my ship log from the summer which means I hadn't seen it before. Research showed it is newly named. You can read about it at J W Shelley.
J W Shelley entering the Locks. I know it isn't a very good picture but it was so cold and I didn't want to walk through the snow. Sorry!

Later in the day we crossed the Mackinac Bridge and observed 4 freighters in the distance. Busy day on the Lakes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 10-11 on the St. Marys River

Remember the pictures I posted last week. The warm weather didn't last much longer and this are what the river looked like yesterday and today. I have lots to post about the boats and also the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service but that will all have to wait until another day. Can't wait to tell you all about it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday, November 10 is the 33rd anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald off Whitefish Point in Lake Superior.

There is a memorial service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point at 7 PM that is open to the public and free.

You can see more information at Annual Fitzgerald Memorial Service.

I'm reading a great book on the Great Lakes right now. The Living Great Lakes by Jerry Dennis is the story of a sailing trip through the Great Lakes but it is more than that. I will discuss it more in a future blog. What good books have you read about the Great Lakes and/or the Edmund Fitzgerald? Let me know by commenting here or emailing me at