Thursday 23 January 2014

Self Discharging Bulk Carrier BAIE COMEAU

That's it!! The short 2013-14 shipping season is over for the 740' self discharging bulk carrier (a.k.a. self unloader) BAIE COMEAU. While many other lakers were busy racing to a port to lay-up for the winter, BAIE COMEAU kept herself busy up on the Upper Lakes and Western Lake Erie. Saturday morning, with the assistance of the icebreaker CCGS GRIFFON to clear a path through the early winter ice, the COMEAU got to shut down her big engine for a well deserved rest above Lock 8 in Port Colborne, Ontario.
Named after the St. Lawrence River city and port where amongst other things, Canada's largest grain elevator is located, the BAIE COMEAU has already seen a lot of miles even though she had only started operations last September. Just like her three other Trillium-class sister ships, the BAIE ST. PAUL ( BAY and WHITEFISH BAY, each were built in China and had to cross the Pacific, then traverse the Panama Canal and motor up to the Eastern Seaboard before they could commence servicing their trade of 'anything in bulk' on the Seaway and Great Lakes.
On November 10th, Tanner and I ventured down to Iroquois to snap the downbound BAIE COMEAU as she transited through the lock and then pass the upbound tanker JANA DESGAGNES ( below before maneuvering the winding Seaway channel near Mariatown, Ontario.

Unlike her sister though, this is the first time a CSL ship has bore the name BAIE COMEAU. An earlier BAIE COMEAU sailed for 'Q&O' and primarily hauled newsprint from the pulp and paper plant also location in the  St. Lawrence River community for the Chicago Tribune. Also anyone living along the Great Lakes or Welland Canal in the 60's and 70's may recall the 730' 'straightdecker' COMEAUDOC which was owned by N.M. Paterson & Sons. As per usual for most Paterson lakers, the first portion of the ship's name acknowledged a community or region (like Baie Comeau) while the second part represented the abbreviation for the 'Dominion OCanada'. Such was the case for the WINDOC (Windsor), VANDOC (Vancouver), and MANTADOC (Manitoba) which was the name for the former classic straight-decker, MANITOBA, ( which is now gone but not forgotten.

Meanwhile, the current BAIE COMEAU is the fourth Trillium-class vessel constructed specifically for use in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. According to CSL, the state-of-the-art Trillium-class offers exceptional value, speed, versitility and efficiency. However, though their design may maximize the ability to carry the greatest amount of cargo, the rounded bow concept does very little to help a ship maneuver through solid pack ice. Fortunately the GRIFFON was nearby to assist her into Port Colborne, but at $3500 a pop for icebreaker assistance, extended season transiting during the earliest and worst winter in 20 years, certainly has to effect the bottom-line. It may simply be the cost of doing business but you know who pays for cost overruns, eh? That's right -You & Me Consumer, one way or the other!! c);-$

Laid up for winter with a load of sugar for the Redpath's across the harbour in Toronto - January 7, 2018
Unloading road salt at Port of Toronto - November 13, 2016....
Update - Jan. 20, 2020:

Like all other self unloaders on the Great Lakes, the BAIE COMEAU's long boom allows her to unload a variety of cargoes very quickly. For her last trip before the Seaway closed in 2017, she had picked up a load of sugar in Montreal and while wintering in Toronto she unloaded it into a hopper at the Redpath sugar refinery across the harbour. She had unloaded grain at the ADM elevator in Midland last winter but had her stay extended and was only freed after the Canadian Coast Guard's polar icebreaker PIERRE RADISSON was finally able to break through high ice ridges on Georgian Bay on April 19th.

...and at the Port of Johnstown - June 7, 2018.
Rock salt discharge completed, BAIE COMEAU making good speed upbound for another load moments later.
She'd been unloading salt from Goderich or Windsor when I caught at Toronto and Johnstown, and this season she's been distributing salt mined in Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Atlantic Canada, and lower St. Lawrence River ports. While underway with a load of salt for Montreal last Thursday, the BAIE COMEAU had problems with her controlled pitch propeller and needed tug assistance to Quebec City. If repairs can't be completed there, she may need to towed to the drydocks at Les Mechins to have it dine there.  Meanwhile her Trillium-class sister, BAIE ST. PAUL which is currently on her way to Grande-Entrée in Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine it seems to take over the salt run duties. No rest for her crew just yet.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Trawler & Factory Ship JOSE MARTI

Back from a wonderful week of sun, fun and an earthquake in Varadero, Cuba which even though it's situated along the Florida Straits, I only saw two salties pass by our resort. Unbelievable!!
Both were tankers, and too far away to zoom-in a name, but looked a lot like the LIA C. which I snapped a year ago near Havana (Carlz Boats: 20.02.13). All I had to do then was sit up from under a palapa on the beach and there would be a passing bulker, container ship, a car carrier like the 656' MORNING CONDUCTOR   (
Another surprise sail by was the 394' fishing trawler and factory ship, JOSE MARTI. Built in 1988 in Stralsund, Germany, the MARTI is owned by Pesquera Industries of Venezuela but flies the flag of Cuba. When I first saw her coming over the horizon, I thought, 'Holy Mackeral, a Canadian icebreaker!!'. Obviously one too many mojitos that day and a little too far south for one of our multi-task icebreakers to be motoring along though one did make it into the Gulf of Mexico to help out after the BP drilling rig disaster in 2006. Mackeral though, is the fish that gets hauled in and canned for market on the JOSE MARTI. A coincidence, or NOT? c);-b

Sunday 5 January 2014

Oil & Chemical Tanker SARAH DESGAGNES (Revisited)

As another shipping season along the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal comes to a close, here's the first boat snap I took of the season back on March 29th, the 484' oil and chemical tanker SARAH DESGAGNES. Built in Istanbul, Turkey in 2007, the  sleek looking tanker motored along with ease downbound below Iroquois Lock. For any boat-lubber who's been confined to snapping birds in the front yard feeder all winter, this was an exciting moment. However not so for my travelling companion that day and so many days during this past shipping season, Tanner, my BFF. He would rather play fetch as the SARAH DESGAGNES continued along past Mariatown. You think Tanner looks dejected in that snap, you should see the look on his face now as my wife, Janie and I continue to get ready for a trip to Varadero, Cuba, later today. 'Oh-Oh', he's probably been thinking to himself, "They're taking off while I get stuck watching the birds and squirrels enjoy the feeder out front. not a nice way a treat a best eh" :-((

The last ship upbound to reach Lake Erie, was the icebreaker, CCGS GRIFFON. Though the season was to end December 29, many ships were delayed due to ice conditions east of Valleyfield, so the GRIFFON and several Ocean Group harbour tugs were kept busy churning up the channels and locks approaches at Beauharnois, Cote Ste. Catherine, and St. Lambert. The last saltie to clear was the bulk carrier ORSULA which on December 25th, ran aground near Cape Vincent. After discharging some of her cargo of grain, she was freed with the aid of tugs. She is still in Montreal having her damaged propeller repaired.
Meanwhile, the GRIFFON made it to Port Colborne early on New Years Day and today is keeping the channel clear of ice-packs along the Detroit River. Okay, time to finishing packing and get out of the 'Great White North'. Back in touch in about a week or so. Adios!! c);-b
CCCS GRIFFON taken March 8, 2006. To read more about her and the winter layup in Port Colborne that year, check out at: