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!


Cathy Clementz said...

I enjoyed this glimpse into your life. And I did not know there was such a publication! Thanks for the info!

BTW, at the info building by the locks, are they posting ships arrival times? I know they didn't for a long time after 9 11 so wondered if they hare restarted doing that.

Sault Boat Watcher said...

Cathy, As far as I know, they post the times on a board in the Visitor Center. I'm trying to find a way to know the ships in the system because they are eliminating the use of radio contact and going to a GPS type system. I've always been able to use a scanner to track ships but that is becoming more difficult. That would be a great idea for a blog posting. Thanks.

Sault Boat Watcher said...

Cathy, You should have copies of Know Your Ships to sell at the campground.

Anonymous said...

You can track the ships through a AIS system. That is what The Holiday Inn uses at the Soo, It would be nice to have it streamed over the internet to see what ships are coming and going down the St. Mary's. There is a site I use that uses the AIS system to watch ships in the Duluth and Thunder Bay region. If you would like the link shoot me a email at tsfick2@aol.com and I'll give it to you and who ever wants it. Thanks for your great site, Tom

Sault Boat Watcher said...

Tom, I would be grateful to hear about that site. Thanks for the info.