Friday, December 11, 2009

Watching St. Marys River Water Levels

This week we had a very scary incident on the St. Marys River. Thanks to for the updates. I don't know who is writing those updates but I really appreciated the information.

The Edwin H. Gott, a 1,000 footer, went aground just south of Neebish Island. It took 4 tugs to free her but it looks to me like the water level in the St. Marys River was a help too.

The water level of the river can raise and lower frequently during the course. From living on the river, I have seen a correlation between the wind direction and sometimes the atmospheric pressure and the water level.

The few inches that the depth fluctuates is not an issue in most of the river but in the Rock Cut it is definitely important. It is not unusual for a ship to be waiting up from the Rock Cut because the water is too low. You can hear the ship's captain on the scanner asking for the water level in the Rock Cut.

You can follow the level in the Rock Cut on-line. The National Weather Service provides a Water Level Monitoring Station. There is a list of locations on the left. Scroll down to Rock Cut, MI and clip on the number to the left of it. The first chart is water level.

To read the chart, observe the red line. When it is above 0, the water is above datum. Datum is where the level needs to be for safe shipping. I'm sure an engineer could give a better explanation for datum, but that's the bottom line.

There is other information available there too such as wind direction and air pressure.

Early Wednesday morning the water level dipped 11 inches. That may have had something to do with the grounding of the Gott. The Gott wasn't freed until the water level raised.

Very interesting for you river watchers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Edwin H. Gott is Aground

The blizzard that is hitting Michigan right now seems to have caused havoc on the St. Marys River. The latest I've heard from my Facebook friends is the the Edwin H. Gott is aground just below Neebish Island. It appears that two tugs are coming along her to aid.

As I get more information I will post it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shoveling Sand or Snow?

What would you rather shovel-sand or snow? This is the question that comes to mind after reading account of clean-up from the recent storm in North Carolina.

Cathy Clementz and her husband are owners of North Country Campground near Newberry. Cathy writes about their life there at Yooper Yarns. Her humorous writing style makes her blog one that I look forward to reading every day.

Cathy and Dan are on a new adventure this winter. They closed up North Country and took their 5th wheel to North Carolina to work at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. They were there last week for the big storm that hit the coast. Cathy's account of the damage to the nearby Atlantic coast is amazing. Here is an excerpt from Yooper Yarns.

Our snow drops from the sky, the wind howls from the north and west (normally) and we know that our snow storms aren’t usually going to occur till November through April. For these people, sand is there all the time, as is the force of the ocean and the Nor’easters that push it inland. I can’t recall any time where the snow storms have changed the face of the earth, but these dunes are GONE. The landscape is flattened.

The pictures show the extent of the damage. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Cathy as she and Dan continue on their adventure. I'm living vicariously through her writing.

Asian Carp in the St. Marys River Update

Yesterday's post brought up the idea of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes system. I had an interesting post which you might want to read from a follower in France. I used Google Translate and posted the comment in English in case you don't read French. Thanks to Mr. Beamish's French class at Sault High, I could read most of it.

Last night I was watching our local weather and there was a segment on Asian carp. Thanks to my broken ankle, I'm sitting and watching TV news. Our local anchorman was interviewing Dr. Dan O'Keefe from the Michigan Sea Grant organization. I had never heard of this organization but they are involved in 'promoting understanding and intelligent use of the Great Lakes".

I emailed Dr. O'Keefe about the Asian carp problem and the chances of Asian carp reaching the St. Marys River. His response was:

As for the St. Marys, it is probably too cold for successful reproduction of either Asian carp species - but they could still potentially enter the St. Marys from other areas if breeding populations do become established in other rivers.

The words 'could still potentially' strikes fear in me.

The rest of Dr. O'Keefe's explanation follows:

Hi Brenda,

It is hard to say how long it will be before Asian carp are documented in Lake Michigan. The bighead carp has already been documented in Lake Erie, but has not established a reproducing population. Silver carp have not been documented in any of the Great Lakes, but are now (along with bigheads) within 7 miles of Lake Michigan with nothing but a navigational lock between them and the Great Lakes. The sample that verified their presence at that location was taken between Sept. 23 and Oct. 1, so it is possible that they have moved closer already.

Here's an article from the site. Varocious carp could quickly take over Great Lakes. It has some good basic info about the carp.

The Wall Street Journal also did an article on the carp today. Asian Carp could hurt boating, fishing industry in Great Lakes.

The New York Times is also featuring an article. Varacious Eater may be nearing Lake Michigan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great Lakes in the News or Time to Read the News

My life has taken quite a 'turn' this week. The turn was in my ankle. I was out running very early Monday morning as usual. I've been running several times a week with my sister-in-law for the past 17 years. We run outside year round in the dark. Whenever we're asked how we manage, we just say, "It's never been a problem for us." Well on Monday the dark became a problem. I stepped in a pothole and twisted my ankle.

I went to work Monday although it was sore, the pain wasn't too bad. But on Tuesday as I worked most of the day, the swelling continued and my co-workers encouraged me to get it checked out by the doctor.

I did that and found out my ankle was fractured and now I'm off my feet. I returned to work yesterday but because I work in a school and have to visit many classrooms, by the end of the day I was exhausted and very sore-mostly my arms and shoulders from walking on crutches.

So I'm off my feet today and I'll see an orthopedic doctor and find out how long I have to be on crutches and what my limitations are going to be.

But the good news is that now I have time to read the news.

The fish kill in Chicago is getting lots of attention. It is being done to keep the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. You can read about it at this link. Corp to Kill Every Fish in Canal. It is to our best interest in the St. Marys River to keep the Asian carp out. We have had so many challenges to the environment here and this would be a serious threat.

I try not to be political in my blog but what are your feeling about the environmental impacts in the Great Lakes. Do you have any favorite blogs that you read?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

St. Marys River Rescue

Alonzo Knowles and Maisey

There was a remarkable rescue last Friday from the St. Marys River in Munuscong Bay. Three friends from downstate were duck hunting on the river and ended up fighting for their lives. The Evening News stated it,

"At the beginning of their hunt the weather was warm but very windy — out of the south at 30-plus mph. On their journey from Barbeau to Sand Island, they experienced 2 to 3 foot waves, which Knowles said aren’t uncommon on the bay and their boat handled it well.
“But our trip back was entirely different,” Knowles said.

On the trip back, their boat was swamped and the men were in the water, clinging to their overturned boat. One of the men was able to use his cell phone to call for help but the phone quickly died. They then waited in the 46 degree water as hypothermia began setting in. About an hour into the ordeal, their dog, Maisey, slipped off the bottom of the boat.

The men were rescued by Chippewa County Sheriff and Michigan State Police personnel.

One of the men described the event, “Shaking uncontrollably from the onset of hypothermia on the bottom of our boat, much of the ride back to shore was a blur to me. We were greeted by an ambulance with warm blankets open arms and smiling faces."

The focus then came on Maisey, the 18 month old lab. "On Sunday morning, after 36 hours in the marsh, Maisey and Knowles were reunited. They found her after driving down several miles of flooded two tracks off of 18 Mile Road.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!,” Knowles said. “Never could I have imagined an outcome like this. I can’t begin to express how thankful we all are for your combined efforts."

I am reminded of a trip Tom and I had from St. Joseph Island back to the cabin on our waverunners. Our trip over had been fine but the return trip was very scary as the wind had picked up and it was all I could do to hold on to the handlebars while being whipped around by waves that were crashing over my head. The St. Marys River is a large body of water with potential for quickly forming storms.

Read about it in the Soo Evening News.
Munuscong Bay Rescue

This comment was left on the news story in the Evening News by one of those involved.

A heartfelt Thank-you to all involved. From all the first responders, the 911 dispatcher for hanging in their with us, the Ambulance personel, The fine folks of Barbeau and the surrounding area.......... You All Rock !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I speak for my friends that were with me as well as myself , when I say Thank-you for all that you did for us over the weekend and on that illfated night. Best Regards to you all, Alonzo Knowles Traverse City

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You Know You're a Boatnerd When

You know you're a boatnerd when your friends take pictures of boats just for you. My friend Bonnie was calling on clients in northern Michigan this weekend and send me these photos with this message:

Took this just for you! Off the harbor just north of Rogers City.

Can’t see the name of her though…

OK, readers, now I'm challenging you to identify this freighter for me. I know you can do it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pictures from Bill K.

Boatwatcher Bill Keetley sent me this message and pictures this week. I'll post a few of the pictures now and more to come. Thanks Bill for the beautiful pictures. I'll post the rest later this week.

I took these down at the river last week. The Frontenac was headed down the river past Mission Point and the Drummond Islander III was behind her. The Robert Pierson was up bound and the 3 met just before the rock cut.
My favorite Picture is the one of the guy fishing on the riverbank with the boats in the background. The salty is the Jumbo Vision.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13 at the Locks

My sister-in-law Linda just sent me these pictures that she took this morning at the Locks. For those of us not at the Soo, they are a treat to see. This is the American Century locking through this morning. Thanks Linda!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cabin Close-up

Our plans for the fall were to return to our home near Grand Rapids to finish a contact I had which finished Sept. 30. We were then going to return to the cabin in October and have a leisurely fall. But things didn't work out that way. Our home sold after having been for sale for months and our move-out date is Oct. 23. So our month has been full of downsizing after 20 years in this house and raising 4 children here. But each step of the way has gone well.

This past weekend, we headed north to bring a load of furniture from our house to the cabin and then to close up for the season. But even those plans got changed. We brought our 7 year old grandson who is really a great worker and he wanted to come and help. I joked that we are training him for close-up in 20 years when we don't feel like doing it.

Friday night we went to bed and at 1 AM, Jack woke me up to tell me there was a boat passing in the river. What a treat! Yes, he is a boatnerd in training. It got me thinking about how we can provide activities for children to develop a love for the boats in them. That is a subject I'd like to spend more time thinking about. Do you readers have any ideas?

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only time Jack woke me up Friday night. He came down with a flu and spent the rest of the weekend on the couch. We cut our trip short and returned home yesterday so that Jack could be with his mom and dad.

Here are some pictures from the weekend. The first two pictures were taken by Bill Keetley. You see the Drummond Islander III which is doing the Sugar Island run while the Sugar Islander is in dry dock for some repairs.

The colors were fantastic around the Gaylord area and on Scenic Drive near the Soo. Sugar Island was in full glory.

Saturday & Sunday we were treated to snow flurries. Yes, there was snow.

We saw several ships Sat. and Sun. Sun we saw the Edwin H. Gott, Algosoo and our last ship of the season was the Paul R. Trugurtha. Those memories have to keep us until next spring.

We will be returning early next year because I know our life will have settled down by then-at least I hope so.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Memories of Summer

Bill Keetley keeps close tab on the goings-on at the Soo. He sent me some photos of boats before we headed downstate but in the busyness of this month, I hadn't gotten them posted. So here they are. It is fun to look at boat pictures anytime. Thanks for sending them Bill.

We're hoping to be in the Soo later this week. We will be moving a trailer load of stuff from our house here. We sold our home here in Caledonia and will be bringing lots of furniture and 'stuff' up to the Cabin. We hope to be spending lots more time in the Soo but won't be living there in the winter until we get our cabin winterized a bit more.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Can't Believe My Pathway

I know I haven't been posting for the past few weeks because things have been crazy in my life. I'll give you a quick update.

My Job I work in schools as a consultant helping teachers improve their teaching. The current grant I work under expires on Sept. 30 (today) so I have been working every day this month. Not what a retired person wants to do! I'm looking forward to a day off tomorrow but this weekend we are having a garage sale-see next section to see why we are downsizing.

Our House Our house sold recently after having been for sale for months. We had hoped to make our cabin our permanent home but didn't get it done this summer, so we have been looking for a place to rent down here. We found a condo on Monday and will be moving into it the end of October. It should work well because we will be close to our grandkids.

Last week my mother had some medical problems and came down to the hospital here for treatment. She had several issues which they were able to resolve with medication. We took her back home last Friday and got to spend the night at our beloved cabin. Those pictures were taken then.

I hope to be keeping up on the posting now. Bill Keetley sent me some lovely pictures which I never did get posted and now I can't locate, although I know they're on my computer. Bill, if you could resend them, I promise I'll post them tomorrow.

Thanks, Brenda

Friday, September 4, 2009

September Foggy Morning and January Blizzards

We had a beautiful sunrise this morning with just a few wisps of fog. It is quiet this morning with no boat traffic and no gun shots from the goose hunters. But not so yesterday. Lots of gun shots and lots of fog. We were completely socked in for several hours. The US Coast Guard closed the river to commercial traffic which made for a busy time once the fog lifted.

I had a friend who said a foggy morning in September means a blizzard in January. I don't know if there is any truth to that because I could never remember how many foggy mornings there had been in Sept. once we got to January. I even tried to write it down one year but that didn't help.

This week we had a busy on Tuesday with 12 ships observed here. Wednesday was limited to two ships and Thursday it picked up again with 9 ships again. The Lake Guardian, the EPA Research vessel was one of the down bounders yesterday. I wonder what research they are doing here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Buckthorn Hard at Work-New Info

The US Coast Guard vessel, Buckthorn, is hard at work today in the St. Marys River. It looks like she is taking care of buoy maintenance but that's just an observation.

This is an addition after I had time to sit in the front yard and watch closely what was going on aboard the Buckthorn. It appeared to be disaster training. For a while they were throwing life rings out from the boat. "Man overboard". Later they were having a fire drill. A light was flashing and I could hear a loud voice calling, "fire, fire". Very interesting. They were out there a couple of hours.

The river is quiet today but there has been a fair amount of shipping traffic. The John G. Munson just went up. Earlier today, I saw the Indiana Harbor and the H. Lee White going up also.

The Joseph L. Block was down bound this morning and she is a good looking boat.

We arrived home yesterday from a quick trip downstate just in time to see the Beeghly headed down and the Federal Hudson heading to the Soo.

Today is a picture-perfect day on the river. Low wind and humidity with temps in the low 70's. No clouds in the sky makes for a very blue river.

I received a nice note from a reader who has memories of boat watching that I want to share with you. So many people have great memories of time spend on the St. Marys River as a child. Please share with us if your would.

My grandparents bought a cabin on the west side of Sugar Island (facing Lake Nicolet) in the early 90's. My family would come up every summer for a week or so. My two brothers and I had a blast every year watching the boats and enjoying all the water activities that the Sugar Island/Sault Ste Marie area had to offer. My Grandpa worked on the freighters from the age of 16 and was able to name them all on sight and would often get a salute from the some of the captains. Sadly, my Grandmother passed away in 2001 and that, along with the demands of growing up and work life meant that we stopped our yearly trips. Just last weekend, though, my brother and I were able to make it up to the Sault for the first time in 6 years and it was great to be there again. Thanks so much for your great blog. I'm sure all of your family members will have great lifelong memories of the Soo.

Thanks for sharing your memories and glad you enjoyed a recent trip here too.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mother Boat & Baby Boat

Last Thursday around noon, I saw two boats coming down the St. Marys River and it looked to me like a mother boat and her baby. It was actually the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. and a tug and barge. But it was a cute sight. I'm sure that the tug didn't feel like her mother was behind her with that 1,000 footer bearing down on her.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cormorant Control

We sat at Mission Point this summer and watched cormorants dive into the deep water of the channel repeatedly. We have read and heard about the problem cormorants have been causing to the fish population around the Great Lakes.

I read an article today Government killing once-endangered cormorant that explains the history of the cormorant population which have gone from near extinction to over population in a short time. The government is now trying to find ways to reduce the numbers of birds but no one is sure if their methods are successful yet. They may only be causing the birds to move to other locations.

I'd like to hear from my readers about cormorant problems and if you are still experiencing them.

We certainly have had problems with Canada geese and sea gulls here on the St. Marys River. I am sure that their presence has added some pollution to our stretch of the river.

Any thoughts on this?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back on the River

The Calloway just went up. I took this picture last year.

Tom & I arrived back at the Cabin last night and found things in good order. Our kind neighbors kept the grass cut. That is how things work in our neighborhood. The people next door have very similar lifestyles to us. They are retired with a home here and one down state with lots of travel between. Our neighbor's mother is also in an assisted living home just like Tom's mother and that means we like to see our mother's often too so there is lots of travel downstate and back. Whoever cuts the grass tries to do both yards if possible. It works great for both of us.

Last night was so cool that we finally lit our furnace and I'm glad we did. We had gotten through the entire summer without the furnace with the thought that it was going to warm up soon. We used an electric heater many mornings but we gave up last night with the temperature forecast to be in the low 40's. It actually only got to 47 degrees but I was so happy to have it warm in here this morning.

I woke up around 3 AM and couldn't sleep but I could just enjoy the beauty of the St. Marys River at night and sat and watched the clear night and many blinking lights on the river. The stars were out in full force and there was a boat coming up the river which made a wonderful picture because it was fully lit up.

This morning the Cason J. Calloway just went up stream, sounding a salute out front a bit up from us. I've heard the Calloway do that before so there must be someone living there that the crew knows. I would love to get a boat to sound a salute for me. I'm now friends with several crew members on Facebook and absolutely love the pictures and videos they post. I'm seeing what sights they see from the ship as they travel the Great Lakes.

My small vegetable garden has been sorely neglected so that is the order for the day once the dew burns off and it warms up a bit. There might even be some veggies out there to harvest for a great dinner.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I know that I have been terribly negligent about posting this past week and I felt that I owed my faithful and not so faithful readers an explanation.

Believe me, I've been having fun. I had an opportunity to do something that I had only dreamed of doing. So here it is.

Great Lakes shipping is one of my hobbies but I have several others. For the past year and a half I have been writing a weekly column for a NASCAR web site. I became a NASCAR fan after my oldest daughter moved to Concord, North Carolina for a teaching job. Concord is right in the middle of NASCAR country and visiting there we got hooked on the spectacle of NASCAR. After I retired my teaching, I found an opportunity to write the column and I've been doing it faithfully whether I had something important to say or not. You can read my past columns at Brenda Benedict Columns.

NASCAR recently opened up their definition of the media to include web-sites which had been excluded in the past. This was partly due to the economic downturn for newspapers and also an acknowledgment of the popularity and legitimacy of the internet in news reporting.

The website that I write for is Insider Racing News and it was one of the 29 sites chosen by NASCAR to obtain media rights at races. So my editor suggested that I represent IRN at the race at Michigan International Speedway and I jumped at the chance. So last weekend, I traveled to Brooklyn, Michigan near Jackson and got to live the live of a sports reporter for the weekend. I loved every minute of it. I was rubbing shoulders with reporters from ESPN, USA Today, and Scene Daily. I basically sat back and learned how the system operated. The media is heavily weighed with males and there were not many gray haired grandma's there so I stuck out. I didn't care. I got to see everything close up and then write about it. My idea of a good time.

I attended the driver press conferences. Here, Tony Stewart is answering questions which ranged from technical to really weird and he maintained his composure during all of it. Some of the drivers weren't so diplomatic.

My credentials included a 'hot pass' which means I had full access to the garages. Here Kasey Kahne's engine is being replaced prior to qualifying. It was a quick and smooth process with lots of workers who each had their job and did it efficiently and quickly.
Michael Waltrip's team is making adjustments to his car during practice. I had to be very aware of race cars and my main job was staying out of their way.

The opening ceremonies and especially the flyover were wonderful up close.

Watching the race from the press box may have spoiled me for future races in my living room. I could see the whole track and wasn't depending on the TV to show me one section of the track at a time. The room was air-conditioned with snacks provided. The best part for me was that race data was everywhere and I was constantly aware of what was happening every lap. NASCAR PR kept bringing us updates of what was happening in the race. I loved that. But nothing can be better than a recliner to watch the race from and taking a nap during those laps when the drone of the cars puts me to sleep.
Are any of you NASCAR fans? Let me know who your favorite drivers are. I'd love to hear about it.

This week I've been working as a consultant and literacy coach in Grand Rapids Public Schools which I've been doing on a contract for the past year. My contract expires on Sept. 30 and I don't know what the future will hold. I may be a full-time resident on the St. Mary's River and that can only be good!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spectacular Sunrise

We had a spectacular sunrise over Sugar Island this morning. The sun is coming up later now and so I get to see it more often. In June, the day was breaking between 5 and 5:30 AM and that was just a bit too early for life here at the Cabin. Back home, when I'm working, I'm up and out to run or walk by that time. I have my walking friends and my running buddy and so I get out most days of the week. But the sun is making her appearance around 6 AM now so I am getting to enjoy it.

My bedroom faces the river so the first thing I saw this morning, after my eyes focused, was the sun above the Edwin H Gott as she silently slipped up the St. Marys River which was as smooth as glass. There were a few wisps of fogs sitting on the water. This makes one of those mornings I would like to hang on to all year but with everything in nature, it is fleeting and gone in a few short minutes.

Yesterday, I observed the Burns Harbor before leaving the cabin for a day in the Soo. I saw the Canadian Olympic entering the Locks while going to Pullar Stadium for the annual Chili Cook-off for the United Way. It was a great time and so wonderful to see a community event so well-supported by many Soo citizens. You wouldn't believe the many different kinds of chili in just three categories-hot, mild and white.

I'm off on a new adventure this morning. We're heading home to Caledonia so I can get ready for this weekend. I'll be attending the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway as a reporter. I will be representing the website Insider Racing I've been writing a weekly column for them since February 2008 and I'm really looking forward to this time at the track. I will keep you posted how it goes. I'll also be posting on Facebook under Brenda Hoath Benedict and Twitter under

Bill, can you keep us posted about boat traffic for the next week. I'll also be working for three days while we're home. I'm a literacy coach for Grand Rapids Public Schools. This is a part-time job where I assist classroom teachers as they work to build the reading and writing schools of their students. My work has mainly been in three Hispanic elementary schools which I just love. This next year is still up in the air because I'm working under a grant and every year is different.

One last thought this morning. Yesterday Tom and I saw the movie Julie and Julia. I loved it, of course, because it was about blogging. Tom found it a little slow moving (meaning no car chases or killing) but thought it was ok. Have any of you seen it? I'm going out to get Julia Child's book-Mastering the Art of French Cooking as soon as a Barnes and Noble comes into sight!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Alpena in the Fog

Last Friday morning, one of my Facebook friends, Teresa Parker, from St. Joseph's Island took these wonderful photos of the Alpena as she came up the St. Marys River in the early morning fog. She graciously agreed go let me share them with you.

She took the pictures at Sailors Encampment on St. Joseph's Island. They are very beautiful.

Today was a great boat-watching day after a clunker yesterday. I only saw the Algosoo on Sunday but here is what I spotted today.

Tim S. Dool-anchored for a couple of hours out front but moved on around 5 PM
Liamare-Saltie from Netherlands-first time I've seen in here
Walter J. McCarthy Jr.
Canadian Enterprise

Edgar B. Speer
Adam E. Cornelius

Our temperature almost reached 80 today but it is heading back into the 60's tomorrow. It was a beautiful , calm day on the water. We saw lots of fishing boats and wave runners in spite of the 'Do not touch' order from the Health Dept. because of sewage that was dumped in the river. :(

Trouble in the St. Marys River

Yesterday a 'no contact' order was issued for our part of the St. Marys River. I don't ever remember this happening before and I don't know the source of the problem. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Hot temperatures this week are going to have many people in the viewing
area heading for the beach. But there's one area the Chippewa County
Health Department says people need to stay away from. The lower St.
Mary's River down to Neebish Island is under a "no contact body advisory."
The Health Department issued the advisory early yesterday morning after a
sewage overflow was released into the river. They say people should avoid
body contact with the water until they announce the situation clears up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shipping Down but Not Out wrote an interesting article yesterday on the state of the shipping industry, Shipping Down but not Out. We all know that the shipping industry is hurting like our entire state is suffering. Michigan is continually appearing in news articles because we are taking the brunt of this economic downturn.

The shipping industry is showing some improvement mainly in the shipments of grain. The article states.

But there has been signs of improvement. The Duluth-Superior port shipped 3.5 million tons in May and 3.9 million in June. Grain shipments are up 23 percent from record-setting lows last year. Coal shipments are doing much better than the rest of the Great Lakes, down only seven percent compared to 30 percent overall.

I know from personal experience that our economy is down. I have four grown children. Only one of them lives in Michigan. My oldest daughter is a teacher and had to move to North Carolina for a teaching position. The other two children are in business. One moved to Phoenix mostly for the climate and the progressive economy there (at least it was when she moved there). My youngest lives in Minneapolis where he moved for a job.

Fortunately, my grandchildren are all here in Michigan. You might think with kids in Phoenix, Charlotte, NC, and Minneapolis, Tom and I have great travel destinations. And you are right. We do enjoy visiting all three places.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Following Blogs & the Linda Lou

How many blogs do you follow regularly? I follow many and although I don't read them every day, I do check to see if there is any news I might be interested in. I follow blogs that represent all my interests-Great Lakes Shipping, Michigan tourism, teaching, freelance writing, cupcakes (that is a story in itself), gardening, spiritual writings, NASCAR, blogs of friends and then blogs that are just fun to read. Yooper Yarns is one of the fun blogs.

While reading a blog called The Ship Watcher today, I learned about a ship that I had heard about recently. The Linda Lou is the yacht pictured above and it was recently near Michigan. You can see some more interesting pictures of her on his blog. The name intrigued me because one of my favorite cousins is Linda Lou.

Shipping has been very slow today. Early this morning while drinking my first cup of coffee, Indiana Harbor went up. The Grand Mariner went up around 10 am and down again about 5 pm. It must have been a short stop in the Soo. The Dongeborg, one of the Wagenborg salties, went up this afternoon. It was my first sighting of the boat.

Let me know if you have any blogs to recommend. I'm always up for another good read.

Enjoying Boat Watching

I was sent a direct tweet from Michael Purvis, a reporter for the Sault Star, and someone I follow on Twitter. He alerted me to an article in a Fort Wayne newspaper/website titled "Boatnerd reveals childhood obession." You might enjoy reading the reporter, Jeff Jones, reactions to a recent visit to the Soo Locks. Jones stated, " There’s something so indescribably tranquil about sitting beside the water, listening to the waves crash against the beach, the cries of seagulls and the quacking of ducks."

It is always fun to see how people enjoy the boats and their wonder and excitement at seeing them for the first time. When we introduce visitors to our cabin to the boats, it usually takes about a day and a half and they are hooked. They are out watching for what is coming up the river and I often see them looking in Know Your Ships for more information on the sighting.

Jeff Jones says that

"Many years ago, before I was 10, my grandparents had a summer cottage at DeTour Village, next to Lake Huron, where the big freighters would pass either to or from the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

While the boats were at a great distance from the cottage, a telescope enabled the grandchildren to zoom in and read each ship’s name. At night, reading the names was impossible, but we could still see ship lights in the darkness."

Many of us started our boat nerd obsession at some place along the river where we watched ships as a child. For many of us it was at our grandparent's cabin. I loved having my grandchildren here last week because I hope to pass on this 'obsession' to them.

I'd like to hear your stories about where your love of boats or the St. Marys River or just the Upper Peninsula began. Please share them with us.

The boat traffic has been light but rather steady. The Clelia II is making her trips right on schedule. Last night, a full moon rose over the river and gave us a spectacular show. I always look forward to the full moons during the summer. The show this year was perfect.

I saw the Lee A. Tregurtha in the Locks last night. Because of the technology of my new phone, I snapped a picture and sent it to Facebook. Are you on Facebook? There are lots of boat watchers and people who are on the boats. The sailors are sharing lots of great pictures from their travels that I am loving. If you need any assistance navigating Facebook, just send me an email at

Thanks, Brenda

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Arts Festival

Tomorrow, Aug. 3rd is the 37th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival held on Portage Ave. on the grounds of the former Federal Building in the Sault. There are many quality artists from around the Eastern Upper Peninsula and also from down state.

There is also live music during the day. We always like to sit and enjoy the variety of music styles throughout the day.

Our first purchase is always the fresh roasted almonds. There a hit in our family. These pictures were taken at last year's Arts Festival. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where Do the Days Go?

I had to turn the calendar this morning to August. July is a blur of activities, work and yes, lots of fun. I've enjoying getting to know a new group of 'friends' on Facebook. The boat watching community are some very humorous people and their posts on Facebook are always good for a laugh.

This above photo was taken by my 5 year old granddaughter. Things look different from that vantage point.
Stopped by Clyde's for dinner and boatwatching.

The St. Marys River has kept the kids busy this week. Lots of memories are being made here. They never caught any fish but they did see several jumping which has kept them motivated to stand out in that cold water.

Today's a rainy day so we're in the cabin making cupcakes.
Today there have been several boats including the Gott, Quebecois, Canadian Progress, and the Burns Harbor is just coming into view. I think I just saw a peak of the sun too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Everything is More Fun with Grandkids

This picture was taken yesterday at Birch Point near Brimley. I believe the boat is the Herbert C. Jackson. This picture will be on my computer throughout the long winter days when I'm waiting to get back to the Cabin.

Everything is more fun when it's done with grandchildren. That has been the story of my week. My son, his wife, and 4 children are spending the week with us. Our oldest daughter also joined us for 3 days before returning to North Carolina where she teaches biology in South Rowan High School.

This morning, we got up early and colored, played golf ball toss, flew kites, blew big bubbles, went out on the paddle boat and also went swimming all before 11 AM.

The weather was sunny and promised to be a warm day but since noon it clouded over and the temperature has been falling. The kids are now in long sleeves with sweatshirts- once they come out of the water. This afternoon there was water skiing and tubing. They get out of the water, warm up and then head back in.

Ship traffic has been very slow. Clelia II returned to the Soo this morning and is docked at the Carbide dock. We also saw the Pierson go down and the McCarthy going up.