Boat watching' begins early
SHIPPING SEASON: Sault locks open ahead of schedule
Posted By LINDA RICHARDSON, THE SAULT STAR
Posted 4 days ago
There was no way Brenda Benedict, a self-confessed "boat nerd,'' was going to miss the annual rite of spring that signals the opening of the shipping season.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., area resident was among more than 30 people gathered at the Soo Locks early Sunday morning to watch the first vessel lock through the canal system.
But this year, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to open the system four days earlier than usual, Benedict, who was in town to celebrate her mother's 80th birthday, was able to be there.
The early opening was in response to a request from shipping companies to replenish low coal and iron ore inventories.
Although the air was "very cold'' at 7 a.m., for Benedict, who also had her four grandchildren with her, "it was a beautiful morning.''
The Lee A. Tregurtha, an 826-foot self-unloader, which had arrived Saturday night, was tied up at the pier east of the Poe Lock waiting for the 7 a.m. opening.
At 7:05 a.m., the freighter sounded its whistle and began the process of locking upbound to continue its voyage along the St. Mary's River and across Lake Superior to Two Harbors, Minn.
And from what the Michigan Sault United States Coast Guard sector was saying Sunday morning, the Tregurtha shouldn't have any problems reaching its destination.
Ice in the waterways above the locks is melting plate ice that is no hindrance to navigation, a spokesman said.
Whitefish Bay is "almost open,'' vessel traffic management specialist Ken Curry said.