Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall in the Sault

The colors this week have been stunning.  After a late start for the changing leaves, we have been treated to the best of autumn's color spectacular.

If you travel west from the Sault past Brimley, Mission Hill Overlook offers some of the most beautiful views of Lake Superior.  The lake in the foreground are Spectacle Lake.

 Follow the road to the overlook and it becomes gravel.  We enjoyed the tunnel effect of the trees that covered the road like a pergola.

Of course, if I head out to Brimley, I always want to stop at Dancing Crane, the local coffee shop.  Dancing Crane is unlike most other coffee shops except that it serves wonderful lattes.

Where have you been seeing great fall colors?  In Michigan?  Or other states?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Your Favorite Ship

Boat watching for 2015 is starting to gear up with the warm April weather helping melt the ice pack of the Lakes.  What is your favorite boat to watch?   A beauty or a tried and true work horse?

My grandfather started me on my boatwatching hobby early in my life.  Our cabin on the St. Marys River gave us the perfect viewing spot at a time when there were many more boats passing every day.

Wilfred Sykes  was Pa's favorite. tell the following information on her. (Plus much more if you follow the link.)  She was build by American Shipbuilding Co in Ohio in 1949 for Inland Steel Co.  "The steamlined bulk frieghter was the first new American-built Great Lakes vessel constructed after World War II.  At the time of her launch, she was the largest vessel on the Great Lakes."

My favorite app for boatwatching is Marine Traffic.  It lists 1950 as the year the Sykes was launched.  That makes her 65 years old and especially fun for me because I was born that year too.

The Sykes is still active and is hauling limestone and sand from the Cedarville area. Right now she is on her way to Escanaba, Michigan.

The Edward L. Ryerson is a sister ship to the Sykes. The Ryerson was launched in 1960.

I took the following pictures of the Ryerson passing the Presque Isle from our cabin on the St. Marys River south of Sault Ste. Marie. 

What is your favorite boat on the Great Lakes?  Is it the Ryerson or the Sykes or another boat I haven't mentioned? Tell me at

Friday, April 17, 2015

Are Sailors Content with Their Lives?

Does life aboard a ship sailing the Great Lakes appeal to you?  Long, quiet days filled with beautiful scenery and no daily hassles of traffic, noisy neighbors and barking dogs.

A recent survey has concluded that most sailors are content with their lives on the water.  The gCaptain story tells of an recent survey given to those in the shipping industry.  

The majority of respondents to the survey said they are content with their life at sea.  

The sailors indicated two things have greatly improved their live on board their ships in the past two years.

1) increased basic pay
2) internet access 

This survey was given world-wide to sailors from over 40 countries.  I would like to conduct an informal survey of Great Lakes sailors.

Are you happy with your life on-board your freighter?

We'd like to hear from you through email and also by completing this survey. 

Great Lakes Sailors Satisfaction Survey

Monday, April 13, 2015

Help Make the Sault-Hockeyville USA

Saturday was a very exciting day in Sault Ste. Marie.  The town was turned into NBC Sports in the afternoon.  During a break in an NHL hockey game, the 10 finalists for Hockeyville USA honors were announced and Sault Ste. Marie was one of the finalist.  Social media erupted with the good news.

Now we can help the Sault move to the next step in the contest.  Here are in instructions.  You can also see these instructions at

Help Sault Ste. Marie's Pullar Stadium win $150,000!

Each eligible voter can vote fifty (50) times per method per day during each of the three Voting Phases. This could equal at least 150 votes per person per day, which is why it would be a huge help and greatly appreciated if you could take a moment to vote each day and to forward this email to friends, family, staff…anyone! Every vote counts.

Voting Methods
(a) click here to reach and select the Pullar Stadium 

(b) use a two-way text-messaging device and text 
PULLAR to 35350. Message and data rates may apply.
(c) call 1-855-255-5975 and follow the instructions to vote

You can vote 150 times per day during Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday this week.  But each vote helps.  So please vote at least one time to help the Sault.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring in the Sault

Ice floes at the Sugar Island Ferry Dock

The blue sky was completely clear

Kaministiqua heads up to the Soo Locks
Sugar Island Ferry loads up for a trip across the St. Marys River
Piles of snow are still around the Power House
There were big chunks of ice floating down river
This plane was practicing touch and goes in the St. Marys River

Barge at work in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Spring has come to the Sault. People are every where walking in their shirt sleeves. We saw several people aging up their motorcycles getting ready for that first ride. 

As you can see from these pictures, there is still some snow that needs to melt. But the sunshine and sound of the melting snow banks flowing across streets lets us know spring will be here soon. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ice Causes Havoc on Great Lakes and Shipping Season

USCG Alder  

The 2015 shipping season has opened slowly.  Although this has been a difficult opening, it is an improvement over last year's slow start.

The Soo Locks opened on the traditional date of March 25 but boats have been slow to resume a full schedule because of heavy ice cover.

The ice has caused a leak in the United States Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw.  A small hole 10 feet below the waterline allowed water to enter near an electric motor.  This is the Mackinaw's busy season and as Rebecca Follmer, assistant operations office stated, "This is right in the middle of spring break and we have vessels coming in."

The USCG hoped to have the Mackinaw running again by sometime Friday, April 3. 2015.

There are several ways to follow a boat on Facebook.  I follow Interlake Steamship Company.  Their site posts some great pictures.

Here are some photos of the United States Coast Guard conducting ice breaking operations around the Soo last week.

Katmai Bay at the Soo

Photos by Debbie Jelen

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Using Technology to Track Great Lakes Boats

Are you a real boat enthusiast?  Is it important to you to know what boats are arriving at your favorite viewing spot?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you may want to use your cell phone or tablet to enable you to get up-to-date reports on where the Great Lakes freighters are located. 

Marine Traffic Ships and Wind -My favorite app for boat watching.  The app is available through the App Store for iPhones and iPads.  Although it is $3.99 which is a high price for an app, the price is worth it if you want the latest information that is easy to access on boat position and information.

App Store spot for Marine Traffic Ships and Wind.  $3.99

Marine Traffic Ships and Wind has world-wide coverage but allows you to zero in on your area of interest.  You can also set alerts by ship name and then you will be notified of the movements of your favorite boats.
St. Marys River is the area I want to watch. 

Marine Traffic Ships and Wind has a bonus-beside position information-there is additional information available for each boat.  The following two examples are from the Algoma Olympic. 

Clicking on a specific boat gives you a photo, opportunity to follow boat and basic particulars

Information on boat specifics, latest ports and destinations, draft and speed

 Information junkies will thrive on this app.  Everything you wanted to know as well as a photo.

I'd love to hear how you follow the boats.  Share with me in comments below or email to

Friday, March 27, 2015

Soo Locks Opening in the News

In the past two days I have shared some photos of the opening of the Soo Locks this week.  The snowy pictures for a spring event have captured the attention of news sources around the Great Lakes area.  Here are a few for you to enjoy.

Duluth Tribune-Soo Locks Opens for Ship Traffic Spring in the Soo
This link has some great photos of opening day that I hadn't seen anywhere else.


I also follow the Algolake on Facebook.  If you are interested,  they have great photos and keep us up to date on the day-to-day operations of a Great Lakes freighter.  This is a post from this week.

M.v. Algolake
Can you hear it? The sounds of the Algolake's Engineers and Mechanical Assistants busily inspecting and reassembling her machinery? The sounds of the Deck Crew still at home, holding their breath, hoping that the unavoidable call back to work will be delayed so they may be with loved ones and friends a little longer? Yes, the beginning of another sailing season is drawing near. Some ships have started their respective sailing seasons already, with many more in the process of fitting out. As for the Algolake... in time... in time. After all, we do not want to scrape off our shiny new paint job in the ice.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Opening Day Woes

The Soo Locks officially opened on Wednesday, March 25, but it has been slow going because of ice.  Here are some photos taken on Wednesday by Debbie Jelen.  As always, Debbie's photos give us a wonderful view of the St. Marys River and the freighters on it.

Edwin H. Gott at Mission Point

The Gott and Blough await passage through the Locks

 A snowy day

 Tied at the east pier

Hammond Bay assists in getting the day going

The following description of the first day is from
"The mighty 1,000-footer Edwin H. Gott tried her best to be the first boat to lock through the Soo Locks late Wednesday morning, but in the end she was bested by ice in the lock chamber and had to back out and tie up at the east center pier to wait for conditions to improve. Fleetmate Roger Blough was tied up astern of her. 

Wednesday evening the Corps tug Whitefish Bay was working to clear ice from the Poe Lock wall, while USCG Mobile Bay was cutting track in the upper approaches. By 8:30 p.m., the Gott was making a second run at the lock; this time she was successful and by 9:30 was clearing the lock. 

The Gott initially started going upbound through the locks around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. A welcoming party of community leaders and residents celebrated the Gott and its crew as it passed by during a heavy snow squall. But the excitement was short-lived as ice brought the passage to a crunching halt. 

Also, on Wednesday evening, the downbound John G. Munson and USCG cutter Alder were nearing Whitefish Point. If all goes well, the Munson will be the first downbound passage sometime on Thursday."