Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday on the River

Today has been a quiet day on the St. Marys River. The first ship I saw was this morning when I was at church. I heard the single blast on the whistle so I knew there was a ship in the Locks. Our church is in town just 2 blocks from the Locks. We left and drove there and got to see the Edwin H. Gott locking down.

Later in the day we saw 3 other boats downbound-the Saginaw, Federal Mattawa and the Lee A. Tregurtha.

After a day of cutting the grass in spite of the wet lawn and then raking, we decided to head to Clyde's for a burger. They still have car hops there but you can see that even she had her hood up to keep warm.
This is the view of the river from Clydes. There is a new building there. Some gov't organization needed a supply building there. I heard it has something to do with lamprey controls. In their great wisdom, they put it right in the sight line for watching the boats.

The Sugar Island ferry was busy but not full. I don't think many people are using their summer homes there because it is so cold.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arrival at the Cabin

After a few day's of rescheduling we finally arrived at our cabin on the St. Marys River yesterday. We have had a tough time getting here including the hospitalization of my mother-in-law and the death of the mother-in-law of my husband's sister.

We arrived about 2 PM, quickly got the furnace lit and the water turned on and working. Then we headed to my nephew's high school graduation open house. We helped setting up and then had a great time visiting with friends and family.

The ship traffic has been slow. Our first ship of the season was the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. which was downbound yesterday afternoon. She was followed by the American Integrity downbound yesterday.

Today we have seen a saltie, Tufty, downbound. It doesn't show up in last year's Know Your Ships and I haven't purchased my new one of the season. We always pick our current copy at Lockview on our first trip for whitefish. However, this year we didn't even make it to the Soo before we had whitefish. We stopped at Darrow's in Mackinaw City and I had a broiled whitefish sandwich. Absolutely delicious.

I also saw the Ojibway upbound this morning. A 1,000 just passed downbound but it was past before I got the name and the binoculars didn't help. I don't have my telescope set up yet. I broke the tripod last fall and need a new one. Any suggestions where to get equipment such as that up here? This picture was taken last summer when my tripod hadn't been sent for a ride when I tripped over it.

They have had a very wet spring. Our back lot has many spots of standing water. Today the wind is gusting around 26 mph and the temp is 45. Not a warm spring day by any rate but very sunny now. Must be high pressure moving in after the rain this morning.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Edward L. Ryerson

It is official now. The Ryerson has arrived in Duluth for layup. She passed up the St. Marys River on Saturday, May 16, and won't be seen again 'until things improve.'

The was in the Duluth News today.

Morning: James R. Barker departing with coal; Canadian Transport arriving to load coal

Afternoon: Canadian Transport departing with coal; Edward L. Ryerson arriving for layup

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shipping Industry

I had to be the bearer of such bad news about the shipping industry so I won't quote the statistics but simply give you a link for the latest data. Recession Hits Great Lakes Hard from the Journal of Commerce will fill you in on the current state of Great Lakes Shipping.

If you're not up to that news, the good news is that we are moving Up North on May 28th and then I will be posting reports on what I'm seeing on the St. Marys River.

I'm also going to try Twitter with SooBoatWatcher and do updates on boat sightings through there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Edward L. Ryerson

Latest news coming through Facebook and the web is that the Edward L. Ryerson, the favorite boat of many boat watchers, is headed to lay-up.

I'll bring more news as soon as I have it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Soo Locks Web Cam

As you may have noticed, the Soo Locks web cams are not operating. I asked my helpful sister-in-law at the Sault Visitors and Convention Bureau what was going on. This is what she said,

"Now the Soo Locks webcam has had a upgrade and when they do that they have to wait until the government gives them permission and we know how long it takes the government to do anything all I can say is I keep calling Detroit Army Corp and get the same answer."

So that is the scoop there. It may be a while before we can watch shipping. But once I get to the Soo on May 29 I will begin twittering the ships as well as posting on my blogs. Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fuel Spill in St. Marys River

The latest news coming out of the St. Marys River tells that there was a 50 gallon diesel fuel spill that the Coast Guard is monitoring. Have any of you seen any evidence of this or have any more news?

The U.S. Coast Guard is still waiting on lab results to find out what was
floating down an Upper Peninsula river, but they think it could be diesel
fuel. The possible fuel spill happened in Sault Ste. Marie and floated
down the St. Mary's River and Power Canal. They believe it could be about
50 gallons of diesel fuel. Right now, the spill is not a major threat.
Guardsmen say the source of the leak has been contained near a ferry
docked in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario. If you see any sheen in the water,
stay away from it and let the Coast Guard know.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Today at the Locks-Burns Harbor

This is the Burns Harbor at the Locks today.

My sister-in-law Linda sent me these pics today that she took at the Locks on her phone. It is just to make me excited to get up there in a few short weeks.


The boatnerd web site reported today the Victoria, a German-owned cargo ship, was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. There is no report at this time on the condition of the Victoria's crew. You can read a detailed report at Sea-Jacking of German-owned Victoria.

The Victoria has sailed on the Great Lakes as late as June 2008. I checked my boat sighting record and the last time I saw the Victoria in the St. Marys River was June of 2007. Finally, I found a use for my boat sighting log!

This brings another thought to my mind. Do any of you keep detailed records of the ships you see? If you do, how to you maintain them? It has been a great source of discussion in our family. We live on the St. Marys River for several months every year. We see many ships pass daily and I keep a log of every ship that passes and whether it was upbound or downbound and any interesting information about the sighting. There is no real reason to do that but I just enjoy it so I have continued it for the past 10 years.

At first, I kept the records in a notebook but in 2007 I began keeping a spreadsheet on the computer. This made it very easy to find the Victoria by just entering her name in Find and it immediately took me to June 2007. I didn't have to pore over pages of boat lists.

I would love to hear about your compulsions (as my family calls it) or hobbies and interests (that I call it) that you keep records for. I feel like I come from a long line of record keepers. I remember my grandfather writing down the weather data every day when it was aired on WSOO radio at noon. We had to be very quiet so he could get the data.

Last year when my grandmother moved to a nursing home, I found diaries in her house for the past 40 years. Everyday she wrote about the weather-just a short note as well as interesting things about what she did that day. All winter it was usually snow and the temperature which was often below zero.

This photo was taken while the grandkids were visiting (note the cartoons) but shows my computer ready and waiting for a boat sighting.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Where Have All the Boats Gone?

As I read the discussion groups on, I found that many ships are still in lay-up because of the downturn in the economy. An article in the Duluth News Tribute today verified that.

The Tribute is reporting that the Edgar B. Speer was the 4th 1,000 footer taken out of service this spring. The Speer needs repairs on her bow thrusters but the other three footers were not brought out because of weak demand.

The slow down in the demand for taconite also causes a slow down in the demand for lime. The downturn in construction has caused a slowdown in concrete and stone shipments as well.

"The 1,004-foot Mesabi Miner recently tied up in Sturgeon Bay because of weak demand for service, said Mark Barker, president of Interlake Steamship Co., the ship’s owner. It’s the same story for the 1,000-foot Stewart J. Cort berthed in Milwaukee, waiting for the market to improve.

The American Spirit, a 1,004-foot-long member of the American Steamship Co., remains parked at the Lakehead Pipeline dock, awaiting its first voyage of the season.

Half of the Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet is out of service. In addition to the Speer, the 767-foot Philip R. Clarke and Arthur M. Anderson, plus the 858-foot Roger Blough all are inactive, waiting for demand to improve."

I will miss several those favorite sights and hope that shipping picks up before I get there in a few short weeks.