Sunday 1 December 2013

Barges BIG 503 & BIG 543 and Push Tug W.N. TWOLAN

This seem to be my year for 'First-timers'. At the Soo, I got to see my first of several 1000 footers like the EDWIN SPEERS ( Then earlier I got to see the petite but effecient trailng dredger OCEAN TRAVERSE NORD ( and then the VIKINGBANK with the reversed bow ( Having trouble controlling yourself too? Could there be any more first timers for me this year? You betcha!! Like I couldn't believe me eyes when I looked down river through my binocs and saw this big beautiful bulging pair, perked up and pointing high while being thrusting towards me with little resistance against a constant flow. YES!! 'Hello Girls'!! Introducing the barges BIG 543 & BIG 503 lashed securely and squeezed tight together side by side and tucked barely visible between their shapely rigged hopper covers, was the veterean tug W.N. TWOLAN. Hey, dirty mind there, I talking about a tug and a pair of barges here, not the regular fare at HOOTERS or a Victoria Secret catalog. Yes, I know I've posted the odd tug & barge coupling (STOP IT!), like the EVERLAST & NORM McLEOD ( and like those that my friend Jim in Maryland have  sent me that flop this way and that as they wind their way along the meandering Wicomico River to Salisbury, MD - like push boat ROANOKE & DOUBLESKIN 214 ( However, they have only been a single barge being pushed by a tug, and that's how I've only seen it done along the Seaway and Welland Canal.
Those 'Big Girls' are both 190' long and 35' wide, so when they're paired together, there's still 2.5' on either side when passing through Seawaymax locks which are 80' wide. They are both well built in the States; BIG 503 in Jeffersonvile, Indiana in 2000, while the 543 was built in 2003 in Ashland City, Indiana. They were both probably built to do river trade service along the Mississippi and it's tributaries where they'll lash together as many 35 barges  (5 wide x 7 long) and the tug or push boat, would have a flat bow like the ROANOKE or NIKKI-JO-C (

I was also surprised to see the old work horse tug, W.N. TWOLAN pushing the 'Girls' along past River Park in Brockville. It appeared the end was near for the TWOLAN as she was laid up next to the SALVAGE MONARCH ( a couple of summers ago until she was chartered out by Les Grains Lac Superior Ltee of Trois Rivieres, Quebec and placed to handle grain barges like the 'BIG Sisters' along the Seaway to Great Lakes ports like Hamilton, where they were heading to when I took these snaps. The twin screw W.N. TWOLAN was built in 1962 at Davie Shipyards in Lauzon, Quebec as a government tug and was based out of Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay until 1986. Then, McKeil Marine of Hamilton purchased her to work in the much warmer waters of the Great Lakes. In 1995 the TWOLAN started towing logging barges for Buchanan Forest products of Thunder Bay, Ontario until this new gig pushing the busting BIG barges in 2011. If you ask me, they make a nice threesome. HELLO, I'm talking BOATS, here!! c);-b

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