Sunday, July 31, 2011

Land of the Midnight Sun

 We have our morning coffee looking out on the river.  This morning we were treated to a visit from 2 pair of sandhill cranes.  They came right up into our yard and seemed to be feasting on the abundance of insects in the grass.  They were very quiet and could have come and gone unnoticed.  In the above picture, you can just see them scooting over to the neighbor's yard after they had finished up at our place.

The next three pictures show the St. Marys River this evening.  They were taken about 9 PM.  I call this area the Land of the Midnight Sun because the days are much longer here than our place near Grand Rapids.  The Soo has about 20 more minutes of daylight in the morning and in the evening because we are closer to the Arctic Circle.   When we first arrive here in June, the first sign of the sun peeking over Sugar Island occurs shortly after 4 AM.  But now the night has lengthened and this morning it was about 5 AM before the gray was breaking over Sugar Island.

Boat traffic has been moderately heavy today.  I''m just watching the Manitowoc heading up and passed the Kaministiqua who was heading down.  Both are a light gray color and they saluted each other with 1 long and 2 short.  They both sail for divisions of Upper Lakes Towing Ltd. 

Other boats sighted today include:

Great Republic                       John D. Leitch       Indiana Harbor
Captain Henry Jackman         Algoway         Stewart J. Cort

Edwin H. Gott    Algosteel       Kaye E. Barker
Burns Harbor      Joyce L. Van Enkevort

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Picture Perfect Day

 Federal Weser-I just got a glance as she headed down the river.
 My boat watching equipment
 Looking north at the St. Marys River

 Looking east at Sugar Island

Our wonderful cabin on the St. Marys River near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Saturday, July 30, has proven to be a picture perfect day here on the St. Marys River.  The humidity is low with a dew point in the mid-50's.  There is a breeze coming off the river that has kept the temperature down.  It is in the high 80's but feels great.  Seating in the front yard is so relaxing.  With a cup of iced tea, we are storing warm memories for the cold winter.

We had a moderate day of boat traffic today.  Weekends on the St. Marys River are always quiet.  And it was quiet with commercial traffic as well. Here are the boats I've observed today.

Hon. James L. Oberstar-she was heading down at 4 am and was a beautiful sight all lit up.  I've heard her called J Lo by Cathy from DeTour.  Very funny!
John G. Munson-heading up
Kaye E. Barker-up
Alizzan-up-a small boat possibly a pleasure craft.  With the new AIS, I can see those too
Mesabi Miner-I observed the top of the bridge from 7 Mile Road and Ridge Road-a full two miles from the river.  A pretty sight to see it moving silently through the trees
American Mariner-up
Federal Weser-down

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 28 is busy day on the St. Marys River

Bad news-I was laid low yesterday by some kind of stomach bug.

Good news-I was able to watch boats all day long and into the night.  It was a busy day for freighters.   Here's what I saw with the approximate times they passed our cabin.

Algosar           Up              7 AM
Mesabi Miner       Down     7:15 AM
Lee A. Tregurtha    Down                                    
Victory & James L. Kuper  Down
Canadian Enterprise   Up
Edwin H. Gott             Up
Anglian Lady             Up
Great Republic          Down
Algoway                   Up 
Algoma Discovery    Up
Frontenac      Down       5 PM
Saginaw   Up    5 PM
Steward J. Cort     Up    9 PM
American Century   Down 11 PM
Arthur M. Anderson  Down    4 AM

What a great day for boat watching.  The weather was in the low 80's but very muggy.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to assist on the project for the day which was removing tree tops that had blown over in the freak wind storm from May.  We have removed the 6 trees that were blown down but there were two trees that had broken off at the top and they were balancing precariously across the driveway.  My husband and our neighbor completed the project.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Herbert C. Jackson in the Fog

 When we woke this morning, we were treated to having a boat closer than normal.  The Herbert C. Jackson was anchored in the anchorage area because of the dense fog.  I don't know how long she had been there but we enjoyed a closer look than normal.  One of my friends suggested that I invite the captain in for coffee.  We were drinking our morning coffee and I think that maybe he was too.  So I can say I had coffee with the captain this morning!

When a ship is anchored, they always face into the current.  When the fog had lifted the Jackson had to turn around because they were actually headed downbound.  We were treated to watch them raise the anchor and turn around.  The St. Marys River doesn't appear that wide but there is plenty of room for the maneuvers.

Here's the pictures of the process.

 Now she is underway and heading for her next stop. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blue Heron

I am watching the Blue Heron pass by heading down the St. Marys River right now.  The Blue Heron is a research vessel from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  I linked you to the University's web site for more information.

The Blue Heron is 87 feet long and was originally used as a fishing vessel. 

On a beautiful day, it was a nice site to see on the river.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US Coast Guard Mackinaw

 Last Saturday our family visited Mackinaw City.  We toured the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw which is permanently docked there.  This is the retired vessel which has been replaced by a newer version with the same name.  She was decommissioned in 2006 and and the new Mackinaw is a smaller, multi-use vessel. It was a very interesting visit.  The ship is much bigger than I anticipated with a crew of 75-half of which are operators and half are engineers.  The Mackinaw was build during WW II at a cost of $10 million dollars.

The Mackinaw certainly moved many boats during her 62 years on the Great Lakes.
 This is the hallway leading to the sleeping quarters.  I think the Mackinaw was more spacious than the Air Craft Carrier Midway which we visited in San Diego two years ago.

 The picture below shows the female sleeping quarters.

 Looking over the bow of the ship, you can see the marina at Mackinaw City and also get an idea of the enormous size of the Mackinaw.

 The hull of the boat is 1 5/8 inches thick to allow it to break out the spring pathway for Great Lakes shipping.
It was a worthwhile visit.  The admission price is $11 for adults & $6 for children.  It is a self-guided tour with several stops for videos and explanations from the 'crew'.  We completed our visit in about an hour.  There are many steps in the tour and I don't think the boat is handicap-accessible.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fourth of July Weekend

The 4th of July weekend is very busy in the Soo.  I went in to Walmart yesterday and gave up shopping after about a half hour.  It was incredibly busy.  The traffic on the I-75 Business Spur was difficult.  If you have been in the Soo this summer, you know how much road construction there is.  On Wednesday three of the major roads were closed or held up for construction.  Ashmun Street from 12th Ave to Easterday is closed until late fall.  Portage Avenue is closed at Johnston Street.  M-129 was being resurfaced this week but one lane traffic was being allowed.  It makes for a difficult time to get around town if you don't know the back streets.

Life on the St. Marys River, however, has been very quiet.  The boat traffic is sporadic and there hasn't been many pleasure craft.  This evening we've been treated to seeing many of the tugs heading down stream after participating in the tug boat races.

Right now I'm watching the American Integrity, a 1,000 footer, coming quietly down the river with the setting sun reflecting off the entire length.  It is a very peaceful way to end the day. 

We also saw the Cuyahoga,  Presque Isle and Indiana Harbor earlier this afternoon.

The Soo is a boat watcher's paradise.  On Wednesday evening, there is always a music concert in the Soo Locks Park.  Music in the Park is a treat not only for the music but also for the great opportunity to watch the big freighters.  Last week, we were treated to the music of the Pub Runners and I also got to watch the Burns Harbor lock through during the concert.