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."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shipping Season 2015 Opens in a "Flurry"

The Soo Locks opened for the 2015 shipping season officially at 12:01 am on Wednesday, March 25. However the first ship didn't pass the Locks until nearly 12 hours later. The Edwin H. Gott made the first upbound passage and was closely followed by the Roger Blough. The Gott was welcomed by a group of city leaders from Sault Ste. Marie who were treated with a ride into the Locks in the Gott. As you can see from the pictures, the weather for the beginning of the shipping season was very winter-like. 

Looking back at the Roger Blough. 

The view from the Gott's pilot house. 

Entering the Locks. 

Pictures courtesy of Linda Hoath- Sault Visitor and Convention Bureau.