Sunday 22 September 2013

Self Unloader EDGAR B. SPEERS

We're Baaack! Yes, another whirlwind boat hunting and/or scenic tour is behind us. Over the last six days, our trusty black Ford Fusion motored along without incident and accepted another 2500 'klicks' to its life (or perhaps, eventual demise). This go round, JBLACK1 allowed us to snap all kinds of boats in motion or moored in harbours like Port McNicholl, Blind River,  Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario and Michigan), Mackinaw City, Cheboygan, Port Huron, Sarnia, and Corunna which is a small village with a great view of the St. Clair River. We also saw the rugged but picturesque landscapes of the Canadian Shield, ruins and historical sites that date back to the War of 1812 and earlier, and both the New and Old Soo Locks in action. Our adventure took us along many single to multi-lane roadways, the Trans-Canada Highway, and we safely crossed to the other side on the massive but lasting steel and concrete spans of the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, the Mackinac Straits Bridge, and the Blue Water Bridge back to Canada where the water beneath us was truly, BLUE!!
I also got to see my first 1000 footer, the land-locked monster ships that can only operate from Lake Erie to the upper Great Lakes because they're too long and wide to transit any of the locks along the St. Lawrence Seaway. As the sun continued to set in the west and while situated at a park located across from the eastern end to the American Soo Locks, I was able to snap these shots of the 1,004'x105' self unloader EDGAR B. SPEERS as she slowly motored out of the 1200' Poe Lock heading downbound to destinations unknown. When the SPEERS was launched in 1980, her forward section was built in Toledo, OH and then towed to Lorain, OH where it was attached to the aft accommodations section. Though the EDGAR B. SPEERS appears to be a bulk carrier, she actually is equipped with a 52' retractable boom (seen straddling the deck below the ship's bridge in the top snap) which when extended is positioned over special hoppers that have been built in Gary, IN and Conneaut, OH to accept the SPEERS cargo of taconite pellets from Duluth and other the Lake Superior ports. Owned by Great Lakes Fleets of Duluth, the huge EDGAR B. SPEERS is actually registered in the 'Big Apple' - New York, New York.
The SPEERS can carry over 73,700 tons of cargo which is almost double that of any of Canada's largest ore carrying lakers like the CSL's ATLANTIC ERIE ( Also, when the EDGAR B. SPEERS started operating, seven smaller ore carrying lakers in Great Lakes Fleet were sold for scrap. Inefficient assets replaced with a mammoth ship almost twice their size while dramatically reducing their overall carbon foot print. Sign of the times.

Saturday 7 September 2013

Self Unloader ALGOSTEEL

No bulbous bow on this ship of steel. Just a flat out maximum Seaway speed of 12 knots crashing into a steady head wind and the downstream current of the St. Lawrence River. All this resulting into making a lot of wave action and a constant stress on the aging bow plates of the 730' ALGOSTEEL which I snapped in  June in Brockville, Ontario. When the laker was launched at the Davie Shipyards in Lauzon, Quebec in 1966, she was a straight-deck bulk carrier for Labrador Steamships and her name was A.S. GLOSSBRENNER. Her main cargo back then was iron ore from the Gulf of St. Lawrence ports of Point Noire, Sept Isle and Port Cartier to U.S. steel mills and then would return to the Gulf with loads of grain destined for ports overseas.
In 1971, the GLOSSBRENNER was sold to Algoma Central of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and in 1987, she was renamed ALGOGULF. In 1990, the GULF was converted into a self unloader at Port Weller Dry Docks and was renamed ALGOSTEEL. As the STEEL motored by us at the river park, out came the converted schooner EMPIRE SANDY (Carlz Boats: 18.08.12) about to commence a 'three hour cruise' along the St. Lawrence during the 'War of 1812 Tallship Festival' in Brockville and just like at Canal Days in Port Colborne every August, a loud 'BOOM' could be heard from a ceremonial cannon on the SANDY to 'SALUTE' the impressive sail past of the ALGOSTEEL as she forged ahead to destinations unknown.

Monday 2 September 2013


The CANADA MARQUIS. What a great name for a ship. 'Marquis', a nobleman, a person of stature. True, you may not be a Duke but at least you're not a lowly Earl. Heaven Forbid!! However, according my former Misener Transportation expert, Nathan Attard,   the correct pronunciation of "MARQUIS" is actually "MARKWIS" which a wheat harvested on Canada's prairies in Saskatchewan. Oops, I sit corrected c);-b.
Regardless, this MARQUIS was the second of three deep-sea or 'saltie' lakers for  Misener Transportation of St. Catharines, Ontario. While going through my files of snaps, I came across a postcard that Misener had printed of the then recent acquisition to their fleet, the 730' CANADA MARQUIS. Unfortunately, the card did not identify the photographer, but I'm certain a helicopter had to be used to get this dynamic shot as the proud CANADA MARQUIS pushed an onward sea over her bulbous bow with little resistance. She was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1983 and sailed for Misener until 1991 when she was purchased by Federal Navigation of Montreal and her name was changed to FEDERAL RICHELIEU, then in 2001 FEDERAL MACKENZIE, both famous and important Canadian rivers. When Canada Steamship Lines purchased her in 2003, she began sailing with her current name, BIRCHGLEN, which is a nice tree and it's bark may have been used on the canoes the Iroquois used when padding down the Richelieu, or not.

However, earlier this spring, I snapped the BIRCHGLEN  (Carlz Boats: 31.17.12) as she inched her way through 'Iroquois' Lock. If you look closely, you may notice the embossed former name FEDERAL 'RICHELIEU' visible beneath BIRCHGLEN's white painted bow. Soon after leaving the lock, I snapped the stacks and superstructures of the BIRCHGLEN and her former fleetmate, FEDERAL KUSHIRO which was waiting below to transit the lock and continue upbound to Lake Ontario. With the lock and FEDERAL KUSHIRO to her stern, the BIRCHGLEN (below) picks up her pace on a calm channel while making her way to Quebec City and passing the original Iroquois Lock and entrance to the former Galop Canal. Time to 'Giddy-Up Go' until you can no longer.