Saturday 1 June 2013

Self Unloader ATLANTIC ERIE (Revisited)

It was truly a hot that day in July when the CSL self unloader ATLANTIC ERIE ( first motored by us low in the water across from Mariatown's Rideau Terminal (sans the pile of roads salt while heading upbound towards Iroquois Lock.

However, it was quite the contrary last week when I came across the ERIE, again heading upbound but this time being lifted in the  Welland Canal's Lock 7 in Thorold, Ontario where it was only 12C and, if you were silly enough to be standing in the wind, the temp felt more like 5C. BRRR!! Though we're generally a polite lot, Canadians are known to continually complain about the weather. AND RIGHTFULLY SO, because just the day before, it was 26C and then WHAMMO, a mass of cold air from the Arctic blasted it's way through. Not Nice!! Meanwhile though, I did get a few good snaps here of the 736' ATLANTIC ERIE as she was slowly being lifted higher and higher, revealing more and more of her huge hull, bow section and eventually the ship's name.
The 28 mile (44km) Welland Canal with its 8 locks allows ships to be lifted (or lowered) 326 feet over the Niagara Escarpment. The north end Lake Ontario entrance is Port Weller while the southern entrance on Lake Erie is Port Colborne, which where I'm from. All locks (except Lock 8) are 859 feet long, 80 feet wide, 30 feet deep and the average lift is 46.5 feet. Once the lock reaches it's maximum height, the gates are open and then the ERIE is free to make her way another 7 miles (11.2 km) to the 1,380 foot Lock 8 in Port Colborne where she maybe lifted again a foot or two to adjust with Lake Erie water levels.

So all ahead full and away we go, right? Not quite! Though there still maybe ample space forward and astern for the 736 foot ATLANTIC ERIE to fit from gate to gate, her width is just less than 76 feet which doesn't leave a lot of room for error in an 80 foot wide lock. Maximum speed for this high in the water self unloader was 'All Ahead Dead Slow'. Inch by inch, foot by foot the massive steel hull scraped her way out of the lock and into the wider channel ahead where she met the 2' wider fleetmate, CSL NIAGARA as she prepared to enter Lock 7 on her way downbound to Quebec City.

There's a really neat observation area at the south end of lock with bleaches and large openings in tall steel fence to make it easier for boat-lubbers like me to snap away during the 50 minutes or so for a ship like the ATLANTIC ERIE to be lifted and exited out of the lock on cold windy days in May, or like today where it was 36C and a humidex reading of 40C. But last week in the cold I was not alone. Snapped to the left are a nice family from Invercargill, New Zealand, which is located on the southernmost end of the country's South Island. Though I wasn't happy with the frigid temps, I was told that cooler temperatures were not unusual for them as I have since found out the average daytime highs in Invercargill range from 14C in January (summer there) to 5.2C in July. Cool!! Or Not.

Regardless, later in the evening and while munching away on a mess of wings at Don Cherry's Sports Grill by the marina in Port Colborne, I caught another snap of the ATLANTIC ERIE in the distance beyond the outer breakwall making her way through a wide open Lake Erie to a destination unknown. Now is that a coincidence, or just EERIE??

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