Wednesday 30 May 2012

Hydrofoil HMCS BRAS D'OR (FHE 400)

I couldn't believe my eyes. There perched high and dry along the shores of the St. Lawrence River stood HMCS BRAS D'OR, the former hydrofoil that served in the Canadian Navy from 1968-1971. Apparently it was built as a project to test anti-submarine warfare technology on an ocean-going hydrofoil and during sea trials in 1969, the vessel exceeded 63 knots (72 mph), making her the fastest unarmed warship in the world.    However, changes in priorities and cost overruns led to the project's cancellation.
HMCS BRAS D'OR (FHE 400) is now situated at the Musee Maritime du Quebec in L'Islet-sur-Mer where I rediscovered her in September 2010. The first time I saw this amazing ship was probably during the summer of 1969 at HMC Docks in Halifax perched then on a barge and also like today, going nowhere fast.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Carlz Boats: The sandsucker CHARLES DICK

Carlz Boats: The sandsucker CHARLES DICK: For over 50 years since being built in 1922, the self unloading sandsucker CHARLES DICK enjoyed what it did best, suck sand from the bottom of Lake Erie.

The Sandsucker CHARLES DICK (Revisited)

Not much was happening on West Street in Port Colborne, Ontario when I took this photo back in 1974. The downbound bulk carrier NORTHERN VENTURE was slowly making her way in off Lake Erie and sitting on the wall was a cluster of Minor Brothers fish tugs, the laid up sandsucker, CHARLES DICK, and an old American laker that was waiting for her time to be towed to a downbound destination to be scrapped. For over 50 years since being built in 1922, the self unloading sandsucker CHARLES DICK enjoyed what it did best, suck sand from the bottom of Lake Erie, a lake known for its shallow depths and abundance of sand. As a kid, I remember seeing the DICK coming in off the lake so low in the water that I was certain it was about to sink right then and there. Later I would see her discarding her valuable cargo at the cement plant dock near Bridge #20, the train lift bridge which has been gone for several years. 
One day in 1973 while working for the Leamington Post and living on the lake, I was happy to see the CHARLES DICK tied up to the Leamington dock, and soon I completed this a pen & ink/watercolour painting of my unexpected visitor. If I recall, due to beach erosion and other issues, Lake Erie sandsucking became prohibited which shortly left the DICK laid up and idle on the West Street wall in Port Colborne. In 1976, the CHARLES DICK was towed through the Welland Canal's Lock 8 in Port Colborne and left at Ramey's Bend where it was scrapped in 1977. Time changes and eras end for us all.
In ballast and the upbound CHARLES DICK approaches the Welland Canal's Lock 2 in St. Catharines on August 2, 1970. Photo by Ron Ruck, from Late Ron Ruck Collection, courtesy of Brad Jolliffe, Cambridge, Ontario
BTW, to view thousands of Great Lakes ship photos both modern and vintage, be sure to checkout or for photos of ships from elsewhere around the world. You'll be Glad You Did!!

Tuesday 22 May 2012


Early on the morning of Wednesday, March 28, 1973, myself and a handful of other people stood on the west bank of the Welland Canal across from Ramey's Bend as the bulk carrier SENNEVILLE approached us from the south heading downbound for Port Cartier, Quebec carrying over a million bushels of barley. Previously at Ramey's Bend ships would turn left or port into the narrow channel that would have ships pass beneath many vehicle and railroad lift bridges through downtown Welland on it way to the flights locks and eventually Lake Ontario.
However on this day the SENNEVILLE kept her course steering dead ahead to become the first commercial ship to enter a new channel that would be known as the Welland Bypass. The new 13.4 km channel was constructed to provide a shorter more direct alignment between Port Robinson and Port Colborne and bypass the city of Welland. Also, to allow vehicles and trains to pass beneath the canal, two tunnels we constructed. The new channel is 330 ft, as compared to the 192 ft width of the old channel.
To commemorate this unique event, later in 1973 I did a pen & ink sketch of the SENNEVILLE, all dressed up in its international maritime signal flags flapping in a light breeze and sailing into the history books and Wikipedia forever. The SENNEVILLE has travelled the channel many times since her first passages almost 40 years ago, but by different names such as ALGOVILLE and more recently known as the TIM S. DOOL.

Friday 18 May 2012


Carlz Boats: HMCS TORONTO: Here the sleek and slender Canadian frigate HMCS TORONTO (FFH 333) is moored along side a sister ship at HMC Docks in Dartmouth NS. I...

Halifax-class Frigate HMCS TORONTO (FFH 333)

Here the sleek and slender Canadian frigate HMCS TORONTO (FFH 333) is moored along side a sister ship at HMC Docks in Dartmouth NS. In 1996, my son Drew (aka Chief Burkett) spent 6 week on the TORONTO as she sailed from Halifax to Lake Ontario and back, making a number of visits including Port Hope, Port Weller, Hamilton and of course her namesake, Toronto. While passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway, Drew, or rather Chief Burkett (that's him on the Quarterdeck) got permission to allow me to join the ship just below  Iroquois Lock, and travel with the TORONTO as it continued to make her passage through the Lock, the Thousand Islands and into Lake Ontario to Port Hope. Oh YAAA!! c):-D
What an experience that was for me. The Chief gave me a complete tour of his ship, including the engine room and I was on the bridge as the frigate manoeuvred through various narrow channels near Brockville and further up river. And then as we passed Prince Edward County and entered the open waters of Lake Ontario, the Captain opened her up to full speed. What a day that was - spending quality time with my son and fulfilling a dream I always had, sailing on a Canadian navy ship. c):-O
Later in the week, our whole family were guests on the TORONTO this time to view the Toronto International Air Show from out on Lake Ontario. Before we all got to view the main event from an unbelievable sight-line, the Captain and crew demonstrated a variety of manoeuvring features of the frigate including the ability to go from full speed ahead to dead stop in a matter of seconds. COOL!! c):-))
Built at St. John Shipbuilding in St. John, New Brunswick and commissioned into the Canadian Navy in 1993, the 440' Halifax-class TORONTO has a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) and her armament consists of Mk 46 torpedoes, Sea Sparrow and Harpoon missiles, Phalanx and machine guns for anti-ship defences and as you can see in the snap of me here, her forward gun is a 57mm Bofors. The TORONTO can also carry a helicopter though there wasn't one on board during my son's St. Lawrence and Great Lakes tour. All in all, my time on HMCS TORONTO was the Thrill of a Lifetime for this boatnerd. Go NAVY!!
Passing Boldt Castle

Thursday 17 May 2012


Laid up and waiting for the next job, a group of working boats are tied off together at the Allied Shipyards at the mouth of the Seymour River in North Vancouver, from a photo I took in March 2004. Tucked between to fishing boats, lays the once famous tugboat ISLAND COMMANDER. Google her and you will see this fine ship pushing her way through heavy seas in a watercolour painting by James Williamson. The ISLAND COMMANDER did find work again and has recently been photographed near Annacis Island on the Fraser River.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Carlz Boats: Lake Erie Fishing Boat 'LINCOLN R'

Carlz Boats: Lake Erie Fishing Boat 'LINCOLN R': Locked in the ice of the old feeder canal at the mouth of the Grand River in Port Maitland, the 'LINCOLN R' won't be doing an fishing i...

Lake Erie Fish Tug 'LINCOLN R'

The 57' Minor Fisheries tug LINCOLN R was locked in the ice of the old feeder canal at the mouth of the Grand River in Port Maitland on this cold day in February 2009.
Built in 1958 at Powell Shipyards of Dunnville, the LINCOLN R and the other fish tugs laid up there for winter would just have wait for another day (or thirty) to get underway and fish the also froze over Lake Erie.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Carlz Boats: HMCS Fraser @ Port Colborne

Carlz Boats: HMCS Fraser @ Port Colborne:  Though I may not have said it much then, it was really cool to have a Dad that worked on the Welland Canal. As young as I could rememb...

Helicopter Destroyer HMCS FRASER (DDH 233) - Revisited

Highway to Welland ran along the canal and no fences to prevent access to take photos with my Kodak Instamatic.

Though I may not have said it much then, it was really cool to have a Dad that worked on the Welland Canal. As young as I could remember, he would give me printouts of all the ships that travelled through the canal and I would study them thoroughly. I knew every ship's name, the company that owned it, the country's flag it flew, the length and beam, the direction it was heading (upbound or downbound), it's destination and cargo. For our family, it was a "big event" when a unique ship was in the canal or coming off the lake. Quickly we'd jump in my Dad's '64 Chevy Belair and head over to catch a glimpse of the "Special" visitor.
Like one day in the late '60's, we got to see HMCS FRASER (DDH 223) motoring upbound on what is now the old Welland Canal just above the Dain City vehicle lift bridge, #18. That's my Dad there about to get back in his car as the FRASER, a Canadian helicopter destroyer with a Sea King on its flight deck, glided by. Even more cool was being allowed to be in the control room of his bridge when it went up for a ship to pass underneath like HMCS FRASER was about to do under Bridge 20, the former train bridge.
As Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) FRASER passed under my Dad's bridge, #21, my little Instamatic got this bird's eye snap of the Sea King helicopter with its tethered propellers resting above the tail section, and the ship's flight deck.
Oddly enough, in 1968 as a sea cadet and stationed at CFB Shearwater near Halifax for a Naval Air Technology course, I got to fly-out over the Atlantic searching for Russian subs in a  Sea King helicopter. Back then the Canadian Navy was known as an expert in anti-submarine warfare, and one of the first navies to have an on-board helicopter like today's RCN frigates.
HMCS FRASER was decommissioned in 1994 and while there was discussion that the former St. Laurent-class destroyer would be sunk of Nova Scotia and used as an artificial reef, she spent most of retirement as a museum ship in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
Many changes along Port Colborne's harbour since this photo was taken.
Recently, while looking for some good second-hand stuff at our local Value Village, I came across the photo below, of the  FRASER and former diving-tender HMCS CORMORANT laid up together along the Lehave River in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.  Sorry, I don't know who took the photo or when it was taken but in 2010, the FRASER was sold to International Marine Salvage and eventually scrapped in Port Maitland, on the Grand River about 30 miles west of Port Colborne. c):-o

Meanwhile, the CORMORANT which played an integral part of the November 1994 expedition to recover the ship's bell of the wrecked American ore carrier, EDMUND FITZGERALD in Lake Superior, remains moored and waiting for disposal in Bridgewater, which by the way is a lovely place to visit, and I could live there. c):-)

Saturday 12 May 2012

Carlz Boats: CCG Ice Breaker 'Griffon'

Carlz Boats: CCG Ice Breaker 'Griffon': As long as I can remember while growing up in Port Colborne, the Coast Guard would dispatch an icebreaker to churn up the ice to make a...

Carlz Boats: SV Black Jack

Carlz Boats: SV Black Jack: Despite the rain and overcast skies, the tall ship Black Jack proudly sits along side a barge at Britannia Yacht Club in Ottawa. During...

Carlz Boats: SV Fair Jeanne

Carlz Boats: SV Fair Jeanne: This morning I was able to snap a photo of the brigantine Fair Jeanne moored above Hartwell Locks in Ottawa. With her masts and rigging...

Carlz Boats: CSL Niagara @ Iroquois Lock

Carlz Boats: CSL Niagara @ Iroquois Lock: Oh look!! A ship is entering the Iroquois Lock. Usually I get to see absolutely nothing happening at this lock but on this day I got to...

Self Unloader CSL NIAGARA

Oh look!! A ship is entering the Iroquois Lock. Back in the early 2000's, it was shear luck for me to see anything at this lock but on April 17, 2006 I actually got to see the upbound CSL NIAGARA slowly transit the St. Lawrence Seaway lock. If there was such then, I wasn't aware of a Seaway website that outlined ship locations by lock like today or a MarineTraffic app for the analog cell phone that I lugged around back then. If there wasn't a ship in the lock, at least you could rely on the owner's of the Lockview gift and snack bar there, to post ship arrivals on a big blackboard in their parking lot. Yes, those were the days my friend and thank goodness they ended.
When launched in 1972 at Collingwood Shipyards, she was 730' long and bore the name J.W. MCGIFFIN. Soon after the Seaway allowed shipowners to modify their ship size specifications thereby increasing their maximum load capacities, the MCGIFFIN  entered Port Weller Dry Docks where her forebody was removed and replaced with a new section which increased her length to 739'10" and width of 78', or two feet narrower than a Seaway lock's maximum width. After all upgrading was completed in 1999, the rebuilt self unloader re-entered service with her current name, CSL NIAGARA.

Well, probably not but it had to be the longest 30 minutes of my life back then, watching the CSL NIAGARA pass through Iroquois Lock.

Does life get any better?
Oh YAA c);-b

Friday 11 May 2012


This morning I was able to snap a photo of the brigantine FAIR JEANNE moored above Hartwell Locks in Ottawa. With her masts and rigging lowered and secured for her voyage through the Rideau Canal on her way to the Thousand Island, The FAIR JEANNE,  offers sailing adventures for youths 15-19 years of age all summer long just like her sister ship, BLACK JACK ( which is based out of Britannia Yacht Club, located immediately above the Deschénes Rapids on the Ottawa River.
In June 2008, I found the FAIR JEANNE moored to a wharf
in Brockville all dressed up and ready for visitors.

Wednesday 9 May 2012


Despite the rain and overcast skies, the tall ship brigantine BLACK JACK proudly sits along side a barge at the Britannia Yacht Club in Ottawa. Operated by the not-for-profit Bytowne Brigantine Foundation, the 87' BLACK JACK spends her summer months as a sail training vessel for area youth and one year when my daughter Lauren was in sea cadets, we sailed up the Ottawa River together on this fine tall ship.
When built in Scotland in 1904, the name of the steel-hulled vessel was G.B. PATTEE II and she worked the upper Ottawa River as a logging tug based at Quyon, Quebec. Driven aground and abandon some time after WWII, the derelict tug was recovered in 1950 by Ottawa area construction company owner and renown WWII Royal Canadian Navy hero, Captain Thomas George Fuller who converted her into a brigantine rig family yacht. The BLACK JACK began her current career as a sail training vessel in 1983 when she was donated to the then newly formed Bytown Brigantine Foundation.
BLACK JACK was also a subject for my 2011 Christmas card paintings,
"Making Ready for Winter"
from a photo I took of her at Britannia Yacht Club in 2005.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Big Boat, Flying Boat!!

A trip to Vancouver would not be right without spending some quality time down by the harbour. During our last visit two years ago, we saw a huge fully loaded container ship back out and turn for departure to places unknown while a Twin Otter float plane landed in front of us and then taxied by to its arrival dock. What exciting stuff!!!

Monday 7 May 2012


As long as I can remember while growing up in Port Colborne, the Canadian Coast Guard would dispatch an icebreaker to churn up the ice for passage to and from Lake Erie and the Welland Canal. Here the 234' CCGS GRIFFON which was built in 1970 in Lauzon, Quebec, takes on provisions in Port Colborne in March 2006 while the self-unloaders, CSL ASSINIBOINE, JOHN B. AIRD, and CANADIAN ENTERPRISE sits high in the water waiting for the upcoming canal season to commence.

Saturday 5 May 2012


Surrounded by several police boats and the odd pleasure craft, the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA enters Toronto harbour along with her escort, the Canadian helicopter destroyer HMCS ANNAPOLIS (DDH 265) on September 29, 1984. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip were arriving to celebrate Ontario's Bicentennial and I remember the pom and pageantry of that day very well.

Look at all the people on the lock wall. No fences back then. 
Photo by Jim Parker, courtesy of Jim Gallacher Collection.  

Update - May 18/20:

There was also a lot of excitement around in 1959 when the Royal couple came to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway aboard Royal Yacht BRITANNIA. After the official ceremonies in Montreal on June 26, and at Massena the next day, the BRITTANIA continued through the new seaway into the Great Lakes and eventually through to Chicago. These photos of the Royal Yacht on her downdound passage through the Welland Canal Flight Locks were taken by Jim Parker who was one of six RCN sailors assigned to the BRITANNIA during the Royal tour.
At Lock 4 Twin Flight locks. Photo by Jim Parker Collection, courtesy of Jim Gallacher.
Jim Parker is second from left. Photo by courtesy of Jim Gallacher..
Built a John Brown Company at Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire in 1953, the 412' luxury cruiser was designed to be turned in a hospital ship in time of war. However she was not used as such during the Falkland War to re-claim the islands from Argentina in 1982 because she required a different fuel than what was available on the Royal Navy's auxiliary oilers. However while underway to Australia, BRITANNIA was used to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986. The BRITANNIA was decommissioned in 1997 and remains a museum ship in London, England.  
A Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopter hovers above the ANNAPOLIS's flight in this DND photo

Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence Seaway opening wasn't the first time HMCS ANNAPOLIS received the honours of escorting the Queen's yacht. Built at Halifax Shipyards, the 366' helicopter destroyer was the newest in the RCN fleet and only 3 years old when she assisted HMY BRITANNIA which was the floating residence for the Queen Mother who was in Atlantic Canada to celebrate Canada's Centennial in 1967. During one passage, ANNAPOLIS helped the royal yacht through heavy fog patches with its more powerful radar equipment and during a surprise visit by the Queen Mother, a Sea King pilot is said to have mentioned that "she sure asked a pile of questions about the helicopter" during her ship tour.
Named after the Nova Scotia river which flows westward towards the Bay of Fundy, and passing through a region that's known for it's apple orchards and scenic farmland, I know the area and river well from when I sailed on the it above Annapolis Royal, while a sea cadet drill instructor at nearby CFB CORNWALLIS in 1969 & '70. In her 32 years career, the ANNAPOLIS served with both Maritime Forces Atlantic and Pacific commands,  participated in various NATO exercises and task forces, and was flagship for STANAVFORLANT, the standing NATO fleet in 1974.
Awaiting to be sunk - December 23, 2014. Photo by Squamish Chief

Nineteen years after being  removed from active service, the former warship was sunk as an artificial reef on April 4, 2015 in British Columbia's Halkett Bay Provincial Park off Gambier Island in Howe Sound. Resting in about a hundred feet of water, the once gallant ANNAPOLIS welcomes divers and sea life to explore her at their leisure for many years to come.
Check out this neat video of HMCS ANNAPOLIS's planned sinking by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia.
Gone but not forgotten c):-))

Friday 4 May 2012


The bulk carrier 'Nordport' from Limassol, Cyprus passes under Bridge 21 at the entrance to the Welland Ship Canal in Port Colborne, a photo taken by my daughter, Lauren last summer. Though quite a tourist attraction for many to watch ships travel under the bridge, it sure was a nuisance when I and others were stuck on the other side while walking to Port High in the late 60's.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Cement Carrier ENGLISH RIVER (Revisited)

Easy as she goes...

...You know I have the right of way, eh sailboat skipper.?..
It was a hot summer afternoon in August 2011 and the balcony of the condo my son, Drew was "sitting" offered a wonderful view of the 404' ENGLISH RIVER laden with cement as she manoeuvred around the man-made Leslie Split and all kinds of pleasure craft while  cautiously making her way off Lake Ontario through Toronto's eastern gap harbour entrance and then slowly backing in to Lafarge's storage facility dock off Cherry Street.
...About time but still too close for comfort...

...That's better...

...All ahead slow...

It's not during every visit that I've seen this much "in-your-face-action" though mind you it was through a highly ZOOMED camera lens. While Toronto was once a very active Great Lakes port with grain carriers and dry goods arriving daily, it's now pretty quite and more often the wide and wind protected harbour has become an ideal  location for an evening sail or motor to the entertainment activities and parks on Toronto Island. Meanwhile, construction is till a go there so it was nice to this delivery of cement by the now 45 year old ENGLISH RIVER.
...Can you move it please? I have to back in there...
...Bow thruster engaged... 

...Easy as she goes...

...And soon hidden behind taller condos and billboards.

The ENGLISH RIVER hasn't always hauled cement. After launching at Collingwood Shipyards in 1961, she spent her early years as a package goods freighter shuttling anything from skidded freight to deck loads of cars between various Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ports. When package goods demand dropped due to improved highway and rail services, the ENGLISH RIVER was converted into a cement carrier in 1973 at Port Arthur Shipbuilding in Port Arthur, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). Since her conversion which included a sloping cargo hold, and stern mounted bucket elevator used to unload her cargo, ENGLISH RIVER has remained active hauling cement products from Lafarge's plant in Bath, Ontario to Canadian and American Great Lakes ports like Toronto, Hamilton, Oswego, Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit.
Bought outright from Canada Steamships Lines in 1992, the Lafarge owned ENGLSH RIVER has done well for herself over the years and is currently laid up for winter in Toronto which is where I snapped her again three years ago almost to the day on February 10, 2013. Hope to capture her again when I visit the always exciting Toronto Harbourfront next weekend. I can hardly wait!! c);-b