Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Lock Groundbreaking

I've heard and read talk of groundbreaking for a new lock at the Soo. So I emailed Linda Hoath at the Sault Convention and Visitors Bureau. Here is her response.

I'll keep you updated as I hear more information from Linda.
Linda says:

"Yes it looks like we are going to do the ground breaking on the 30th of June not confirmed as of yet. This will be a mini engineer’s day and the public is welcome. I will keep you updated as things come through."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Picture from April 15

I received this picture from my sister-in-law, Linda, of the Sault Visitors and Convention Bureau. She took the picture on her phone while sitting at a meeting. I know she sent it to make me jealous that I'm not up to the Soo yet. But it won't be too long and I'll be there.

Any of you planning trips to the Soo this summer? We should have a blog party sometime.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First Saltie of the Season

This article about the first saltie (ocean-going vessel) appeared on boatnerd.com. If the Medemborg leaves Duluth on Thursday, it will be passing the Locks sometime on Friday. What do you do with beet pellets? That is listed at their cargo. The Vessel Passages on boatnerd.com listed the Federal Welland as in the Locks at 1:15 AM and the Medemborg at 3:00 AM. Obviously the Medemborg made up that 1.75 hours while crossing Lake Superior.

Dutch vessel first saltie in Twin Ports

4/14 - Duluth, Minn. - "I was surprised, and very impressed," said Capt. Luis Jardin on Monday morning. The captain of the Dutch vessel the Medemborg was honored at the annual first ship's ceremony. He was given gifts from city and port officials.

The Medemborg arrived Easter Sunday morning. It was followed by the Federal Welland.

"It was great seeing a dogfight race like there was 50 years ago," said Adolph Ojard, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

50 years ago, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, linking the ocean to the Great Lakes. It forever changed the shipping industry.

In Duluth, the first saltie arrived on May 3, 1959. The Ramon deLarrinaga was racing three other vessels to be the very first.

Now, five decades and $350 billion dollars worth of cargo later, the maritime highway continues to provide jobs for tens of thousands of people.

Ojard says, there is light at the end of the recession tunnel. "There are slow signs of things picking up, in the third quarter or year end," he said.

The Medemborg will bring beet pellets from the General Mills dock to Morocco. It was expected to sail around noon on Tuesday.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Favorite Spots for Boat Watching

Sault Ste. Marie has to be the best spot in Michigan for boat watching because it offers such a variety of places to watch from and most of them are never crowded or busy. Here is a list of my top 5 favorites (actually there seven because I couldn't narrow it down to 5).

1. My cabin-we're located between Six and Seven Mile Road. Although the St. Marys River is wide at this spot, we still get a good view. If we want a picture of a boat, we must take our wave runners out to get close. This is a little dicey because you are doing two things at once-hanging on the wave runner and also operating the camera. My worst experience at this was when one of the tall ships passed by. Tom drove me out there for pictures and I took many. Even got close enough for the crew to wave. Once we got back to shore, I found I had the lens cap on for the whole time. Not fun. I never told Tom what I had done!

2. Sugar Island Ferry Dock-The ships slow down for the turn in the river plus the river is narrow at this point. There are great parking spots plus Clyde's Drive-in which is located here has the best hamburgers in town.

3. 4 Mile Park-at the end of 4 Mile, there is a small public park where the ships come very close. In fact, if you are swimming there, you must get out of the water when the ships pass because of the current and wave created that will pull you out to deep water.

4. West Pier-the west end of the Locks used to offer a great boat watching spot before the condos were built there. It is still a good spot plus there is West Pier Drive-In with great burgers. Some people think the best in town but I have another favorite. See #2 above.

5. Soo Locks Boat Tour-I took the above picture while on the Soo Locks Boat Tour. You get up close and personal on the tour. I like to take the tour once a summer. We usually wait for friends to come visit from out of town.

6. The Locks-This is where you will get the closest to the boats and you can even chat with the crew while they lock through. We always take guests there plus we often go just to walk through the park. The Visitor's Center is a must see for guests too.

7. The Rock Cut/Neebish Island area-This location just south of the Soo has a good eating spot as well as a close up look at boats.

Now I want to hear from you. What do you think is the best boat watching spot in the Sault? I'd like to learn a few new ones for this summer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Know Your Ships

I grew up on the St. Marys River. My summer home, which we call The Cabin, was built by my grandparents around 1950 - the same year I was born. My grandfather had the tamarack logs cut down in the Tahquamenon Falls area.

For several years my grandparents used The Cabin as a weekend get away from the nearby Soo. A few years later they enlarged the small log home by adding a kitchen and bathroom. Eventually they winterized the home and lived there year round. At several points, I lived there with them. The last time was the summer after my freshman year of college. My grandfather had just died and I stayed there to be with my grandmother.

In the following years, I continued to spend time at The Cabin. As my children were born, they followed in my footsteps. My grandmother was a gracious entertainer and every summer she would have her great-grandchildren for an overnight. This gave my children the precious memories that I had-playing cards, having toast and spending time with a very fun grandmother whom we all called Ma.

I will write more about Ma in the next few days. This weekend is the 10th anniversary of her death. And May will be the 10th anniversary of our purchase of The Cabin.

But it was my time at The Cabin that developed my love of boat watching. In the early 1960's, I would sit on the water front with a copy of Know Your Ships and a notebook and record the boats I saw. My grandfather would not allow me to use his binoculars. So all I could do was identify ships by their smokestacks. I kept careful records of what I saw and I continue to do that now. I have a record from every summer of each boat that passes by. I have no idea why I do that- other than it gives me joy to watch carefully and keep a record so I know what ships have passed and when was the last time I had seen them.

I noticed online today that the latest edition of Know Your Ships is now available. This is the 50th edition. I purchase a new copy every year. There is always new information each year. In our neighborhood, my new copy has solved many mysteries about 'what ship is that?" for a ship that changed names or ownership over the winter.

The Know Your Ships editor, Roger Lelievre, is a Sault native with a place just up the river from us. He shares our love of the river and you can see his photos on the Boatnerd web site.

I always buy my new copy of KYS on our first time out for a whitefish dinner. This always marks the opening of The Cabin for the summer. We go to Lockview in the Soo to celebrate and get our KYS. Then I know my summer has started. Can't wait!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Deer-Ice Breaker Collision Narrowly Avoided

I never thought I would be writing that title. But this actually did occur in the St. Marys River just south of the cabin.

The United States Coast Guard's ice breaker Mackinaw was clearing the ice from the Rock Cut which is on the west side of Neebish Island. The ship's officers observed 4 deer attempting to cross the river. The deer must not have gotten the government notice that they were opening up the river. The channel at that point is only 238 feet wide but the Mackinaw had already made one pass through the cut.

One deer led the way and of course she feel through the broken ice into the water. She was able to get herself out, only to fall back in. This is where I'll let the Soo Evening News tell the story.

“Four deer came out to cross on the ice just ahead of us,” said Ensign David Lieberman, who was at the helm and driving the Mackinaw. “One of them moved ahead of the others and fell through the brash ice that we had cut earlier, and struggled to get out. It fell back in once, then climbed out again only to fall back through the ice.”
Lieberman said that Cmdr. Scott Smith ordered him to reduce speed, but crew members realized there was not time to avoid running down the deer just ahead of the ship’s bow.
“We slowed down, but the Mackinaw can’t stop just like that,” Liberman explained. “The Captain just wanted to give the deer a chance to get away but it was still trying to cross the channel. We couldn’t go anywhere to either side due to shallow water depth.”

On the third try, the doe made it out and began running parallel and ahead of the ship, with the three remaining deer watching from the other side of the channel.
“Up ahead we saw it try to cross back to the others and it didn’t break through at that spot, so she made it,” Lieberman said.

I can only hope that the Mackinaw crew was able to video this whole episode.

Who says nothing ever happens in the Upper Peninsula!