Wednesday 30 October 2013

Self Unloader ALGOMARINE

Before jumping on the QEW and heading back home after a few days in Port Colborne earlier this month, I was able to snap the approaching 730' self unloader ALGOMARINE as she carefully made her way to the west wall which is used to guide ships into Lock 1 (bottom snap) at Port Weller which is the Lake Ontario entrance to the Welland Canal.
The ALGOMARINE, which is beginning to show her age was built in 1968 at the Davie Shipyards in Lauzon, Quebec. Owned by Nipigon Transport of Montreal, she then looked like a typical classic Great Lakes 'straightdecker' and her name was LAKE MANITOBA. Along with her fleetmates, LAKE WINNIPEG, LAKE NIPIGON and LAKE WABUSH each were active in the Canadian prairie grain trade eastward and then more often returned upbound with a load of iron ore. From what I recall growing up along the canal back then, regardless of their cargo, each ship was always kept clean and their black stacks displayed a huge 'green' Maple Leaf on a white rounded background. Very impressive ships. However in 1987, Algoma Central took over the Nipigon's fleet with the exception of the WINNIPEG (because she had already had been scrapped). The LAKE NIPIGON had her name changed to ALGONORTH, the LAKE WABUSH was converted in a self unloader and is now known as the CAPT. HENRY JACKMAN ( and LAKE MANITOBA had her name changed to ALGOMARINE and was also converted into stern mounted self unloader like fleetmate ALGOSTEEL (
Also coming in of the lake and in the background above, is the 201' bunker tanker HAMILTON ENERGY. Now that's a ship with an interesting past and will be highlighted soon in a future Carlz Boats. I know, you can hardly wait, or NOT!!  c);-b  

Sunday 27 October 2013

Oil/Chemical Tanker WESER

WooHoo!! We made it to the World Headquarters of BOATNERD.COM at Vantage Point, Port Huron, Michigan. YEAH! Like they are my 'Main Man' for all kinds of stuff on American and Canadian “Lakers” and foreign “Salties”. Whether it's freighters, tugs, passenger ships or more, BOATNERD.COM is the “Guru” 🧘🏻‍♂️, the “Crystal Ball” 🔮 when needing to know where that boat is NOW!! - whether underway, anchored or moored anywhere on the Great Lakes from Duluth and the Lakehead, to eastern Lake Ontario's entrance to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Does it get any better? Apparently not, because just before entering their unique Marine Center, we were told they were just about to close. YIKES!! No souvenirs, No look at ship models and photos, No online searching, NO!! NO!! NO!! 😬  
No, no I wasn’t angry. It was just poor planning on my part because BOATNERD.COM is all run by volunteers and they need  their time to snap 📸 boats too, eh. However I’ll admit it, it did feel a bit like a Griswold moment like what Chevy Chase’s family felt like in the National Lampoon movie 'VACATION' who after driving clear across America, stood in shock when arriving at the fictitious amusement park 'Walley World' only to find it was closed for repairs. Boo-Hoo 😢 but at the BOATNERD.COM World Headquarters you’ll get over it real fast because there you can still walk over to the St. Clair River and look for boats. No fences to keep you away. Oh YAAA 👍🏻🚢👍🏻
Unfortunately nothing was passing by just then, but when looking down river I could see the ALGORAIL ( about to discharge a load of stone on the Sarnia side along with the tanker ALGOEAST moored at the Esso dock. Up river though also on the Sarnia side, sat the tanker WESER which looked awfully familiar....

...because the last time I saw her in Havana, Cuba in January, she bore the name CHEMTRAN WESER ( Still flying the flag of Liberia, the 420' German owned tanker, had her name changed to simply WESER shortly after she left Havana for reasons unknown to me. Meanwhile, after filling her tanks with a Canadian crude byproduct, the WESER is currently making her way through the Gulf of St. Lawrence on her way to Venspils, Latvia. I wonder what she'll be named the next time I see the WESER. Go ahead, surprise me!! c);-b

Friday 18 October 2013


Believe It or Don't!! Some would rather  fish the St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie than snap photos of super large ships transiting the Soo Locks. Are you out of your @#$%^&* minds? Sorry for the foul outburst there, or NOT! Actually, you don't have to be 'loonie' to spend your off time fly-casting the day away because apparently the 'rapids of the St. Mary's' (a.k.a: Sault Ste. Marie), are loaded with rainbow trout, whitefish, pink & coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and on some days you may even reel in a walleye, small-mouth bass or lake trout as the frigid waters of Lake Superior drops the twenty or so feet making its way towards the lower Great Lakes and/or your filled to the brim hip-waders. YIKES!! c):-()
Or you may consider slowly trawling along near one of the hydro dams located on either side of the river like the two anglers above were doing in their aluminum skiff a few weeks ago as I snapped the big AMERICAN CENTURY slowly making her way downbound from the equally large, Poe Lock.
When launched in 1980 at the Bay Shipbuilding yards in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, this 1000'x105' monster self unloader was named COLUMBIA STAR and was owned by the Oglebay Norton Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. She can carry up 78,850 tons of cargo which may consist coal or talconite pellets and with her 260' boom, she can cast out her load at a rate of 10,000 tons per hour. In 2006 the STAR was sold to American Steamship Co. of Williamsville, New York and her name was changed to AMERICAN CENTURY. Just like fishing, snapping a big one like the CENTURY requires an abundance of patience and an understanding that some may get away to be caught another day. After being released from the lock, the AMERICAN CENTURY slowly but surely passed by the articulated tug and barge, JOYCE L. VANENKEVORT and GREAT LAKES TRADER, then motored past Cloverland Electric Power generation building towards a downstream destination. 

Hey, if you're bored stiff one day with nothing to do, you can always check out the Lake Superior State University Fish Cam which is located at the eastern outport of the hydro dam at , or NOT!! c);-b

Friday 11 October 2013

Oil/Chemical Tanker SLOMAN HERMES

A little bit of fog was still hanging around yesterday morning as I snapped the 476' upbound oil/chemical tanker SLOMAN HERMES making her way to an empty Lock 3 on the Welland Canal really 'slow', man (pun intended). Just ahead of her though are the St. Catharines 'Garden City Skyway' and the Bridge #4 or formerly known when I was a kid as the Homer Bridge. In 1939, the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), Canada's first four-lane divided highway which runs from Toronto to Fort Erie, Ontario was opened and at the time the double-leaf rolling lift bridge in then Homer, Ontario managed the traffic adequately.
I suppose it was probably quite a nice drive back then but apparently as the population increased during the post World War II boom in the 1950's, so did automobile and truck traffic, and before long massive traffic bottle necks were created as hundreds of cars and trucks waited twenty minutes or more far too often for a ship to pass by. In 1963, the Garden City (St. Catharines' moniker) Skyway was opened which allowed traffic to make the 90 mile or so journey from Toronto to Niagara Falls, or Buffalo, New York via the Peace Bridge, more freely and faster, at least until the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) became equipped with unmarked cruisers and radar guns. YIKES!! c):-(

Meanwhile back at the blog, the high in the water SLOMAN HERMES which was built in 2012 in China and flies the flag of Antigua-Barbuda, continued to gingerly enter the lock before me (and a hundred or so tourists who arrived by bus) to check out the ship and the Welland Canal viewing centre and museum also located at Lock 3. Though the SLOMAN had lots of room ahead and to her stern in 859' lock, her nearly 79' width didn't leave much room between the tanker's hull and walls of the 80' wide lift lock. Having been risen the required 46.5', and about to make her way to the next upbound locks while on her way to Sarnia for a load of oil, the SLOMAN HERMES made a wonderful backdrop for a snap I really enjoyed taking with Bob Quade (on the right) from Gillett, Wisconsin. Had I nice chat with Bob. It's always nice to meet a new friend and future Carlz Boat enthusiast, just like you. RIGHT? c);-b  

Monday 7 October 2013

Self Unloader ALGOWAY (Revisited)

While her fleetmate ALGORAIL was busy discharging a load of stone at the Esso Imperial Oil dock in Sarnia, Ontario, the 650' ALGOWAY motored by us near Port Huron on the U.S. side of the St. Clair River. Both are self unloaders and I recall them making their way through the Welland Canal back when I lived in Port Colborne over 40 years ago. So they have been around for quite a while and have remained useful and efficient because unlike the huge Canadian seaway-max size 740's  and American 1000 footers, the 'WAY' and 'RAIL' are medium size or river-class bulk carriers that were specifically designed for 'short haul' trades destined to the smaller ports primarily located on the upper four Great Lakes: Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior though from time to time she may have ventured down the ditch, (a.k.a. Welland Canal) to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River below.

Both were built for Algoma Central Corp. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario at the former Collingwood Shipyard with the 640' RAIL being launched in 1968 and the WAY in 1972. A third member of the team, the 646' AGAWA CANYON was also built in Collingwood and launched in 1970. Unfortunately, the CANYON was sold for scrap in 2010 and towed to Turkey for dismantling. YIKES!! Meanwhile, her versatile sisters continue to deliver needed supplies of salt, stone, coal, fertilizer, sand, grain and more to such U.S. ports as: Marysville, Saginaw, and Ferrysburg in Michigan; Lorain, Sandusky, and Toledo in Ohio; and Ontario ports like, Kingsville, Meldrum Bay, Midland, Parry Sound and nearby to us, Johnstown. During our recent "Whirl wind tour to The Soo and Back", I was looking forward to snapping the ALGOWAY while heading upbound through a narrow channel on the St. Mary's River across from St. Joseph Island. However, when we arrived at Sailor's Encampment Drive to snap her, the ALGOWAY was no where to be seen. 'NO WAY'!! (Sorry, pun was intended there). Was my "MarineTraffic app WRONG AGAIN?  Not this time, in fact the WAY was making her way along the other side of St. Joseph Island heading to Thessalon, which is a cute little village with a wonderful view of Lake Huron's North Channel and a community that we had motored through along the Trans Canada highway on our way to snap the WAY somewhere else. That's it. I've said way too much, so ALGOWAY and leave you alone now!! Hehehe! c);-b

Update - March 20, 2020:

It's been way too long since I lasted updated this post and in the five years that's passed the river-class sisters ALGOWAY and ALGORAIL continued to work hard and with that, they also began to show their age. With newbuild stern-ender replacements on their way, the straight-deck self unloaders in the Algoma fleet were on their way out. Their ends were near when I photographed the pair again looking lake ward on December 29, 2018, at the Marine Recycling Corps yard in Port Colborne and when I caught them again 5 month later, the breaker's torch had already removed stern engine and accommodations section. Three years earlier, the WAY's working life was extended, when the boom of the ALGOMA PROGRESS which was been scrapped, replaced the ALGOWAY's which had been damaged while unloading salt in Thassalon on November 28, 2014. For 50 years the ALGORAIL and slightly younger ALGOWAY moved cargo which kept the economy going and road safer in winter. Way to go, you served us well. 

Sunday 6 October 2013

Packet Freight/Passenger Ship KEEWATIN

It was like a vision from the past or a magnificent beauty that one might only see in an old oil paintings at a museum, or computer generated for a silver screen classic. Here before me sitting high up forward and proudly displaying her original Canadian Pacific 'checkerboard square' logo on her stack and bow flag, was the former Great Lakes packet freight/passenger ship, KEEWATIN. When launched in 1907 in Govan, Scotland, the 336 foot former liner was truly built to last and when I saw her a couple weeks ago tied off along the wall in the quiet little community of Port McNicholl, which is located on Georgian Bay's Severn Sound, she appeared ready to get under way for another passage to the Lakehead and back, like she had done for 53 years. When she started service there in 1912, Port McNicoll was then dubbed the 'Chicago of the North'. It was a 'super port' that was created to transfer Canadian Pacific Railway passengers via a new rail line from Toronto, onto one of five railway owned passenger ships like the KEEWATIN that daily would leave for the two and a half day passage to Canadian Pacific's westbound continental trains in Port Arthur/Fort William (Thunder Bay today).
The combined railway and passenger ship service remained a viable method for travellers and packaged goods to get from point A to B. However, with the introduction and then expansion of provincial roads and highways, improved train services due to the addition of new rail lines, and the flexibility and timely use of air travel, meant the end of the service made available by the KEEWATIN and her four sister ships, ASSINIABOIA, MANITOBA, ATHABASKA and ALBERTA in 1967. Also, the once thriving harbour town of Port McNicholl, practically died as the rail and ship jobs left. While all of her sisters were eventually scrapped, the KEEWATIN was towed to Douglas, Michigan where she became museum ship in 1968. While displaying her beauty and wooden craftsmenship throughout the ship for over 44 year at Douglas, the KEEWATIN was also used as a filming set for various TV shows & movies, and a stunt doubled for the LUSITANIA, YARMOUTH CASTLE, EMPRESS OF IRELAND and even the TITANIC.
In 2012, KEEWATIN returned to rest at the same dock she commenced hauling packaged freight and passengers from 100 years earlier in Port McNicholl which is where we found our first boat during our whirlwind tour to 'The Soo and Back'. In the photo above, you can hardly make out my better half Janie and Tanner the dog beside the glistening hull of the KEEWATIN. If you squint your eyes it appears much like the 'white-out' conditions one might experience during a 'Blizzard of the North', which incidentally is Cree for KEEWATIN. You read it here first!!....and if you want to read more the KEEWATIN and her Canadian Pacific fleetmate, be sure to check "Canadian fleets along the seaway " by the late Skip Gillam and Alfred Sagon-King. You'll be glad you did.