Sunday 25 May 2014

Bulk Carrier MAPLEGLEN

After the winter we just experienced, it's so nice to have a Victoria Day that's mostly clear blue skies, pleasant temps with a light spring breeze, and being able to snap 4 new boats for future Carlz Boats posts; what more can you ask for on this year's holiday that was celebrated here in most of the Great White North last Monday on May 19. Originally the day was to commemorate Queen Victoria's birthday on May 24th but because that date didn't always make the holiday a long weekend, in 1958 the Feds changed the event date to the Monday immediately prior to May 25th (don't quote me on that c):-o). However perhaps, since the throne's influence continues to diminish on this side of the big pond, the holiday is better known as the 'May Long Weekend' or the more often used '2-4 Weekend' (either because of Vickie's actual birthdate or more likely referring to picking up a 2-4, i.e.: bottles of beer in a box or case of beer). Yeah, those were the days! c);-))    

Regardless, the first 'newbie' boat that we came across on Vickie's 2-4 Day was the worse for wear looking 730 foot-ish (729' 11'')  CSL bulk carrier MAPLEGLEN. Well at least her bow looked like she could use a fresh coat of paint, her aft  looked pretty good, eh? Hey, I talking about the boat eh, not my wife Janice leaning up against the fence with family dog, Tanner as the GLEN exited downbound out of Iroquois Lock. c)8-()
When the MAPLEGLEN (snapped passing us at Loyalist Park near Mariatown) was built in 1981 in Hoboken, Belgium, her name was FEDERAL MAAS and sailed with that name until 1995 when she became the LAKE MICHIGAN. She was purchased in 2009 by CSL Group Inc. (a subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines and based in the States) and has sailed as the MAPLEGLEN ever since. I suppose it's better to have the odd new owner and name change, instead of like fleetmates RICHELIEU and SAGUENAY which both recently ended their many years hard work by being towed overseas and broken-up as scrap metal. Too much of that happening these day. Meanwhile, for more info about the RICHELIEU and SAGUENAY, check out these Carlz Boats posts:  and

But a REAL!! must see though is the wake that was kicked up from the tanker SARAH DESGAGNES as she passed my friend and fellow Boatnerd, Ron Beaupre's Seaway-front yard in Mariatown. As Ron mentioned, even though the max speed on the Seaway is only 12 knots/hour, certain ship designs results in significant wave action. See for yourself and disregard Tanner's antics while I was trying to shoot the real action, eh!

Meanwhile, it was a short but very entertaining visit with Ron and his wife. Until next time, my friend and for everyone else, check out the SARAH DESGAGNES Carlz Boat post snapped near Ron's place last spring. ENJOY!! c);-b 

Thursday 15 May 2014

Steamboat NATCHEZ

Ice Cream, You Scream, Everybody Loves Ice Cream, Yeah. Rock, Oh Rock My Baby Rolllll!!
- And what better place is there to enjoy a tasty Maple-Pecan ice cream with My Baby like sitting on the foc's'le of the paddle-wheeler and steamboat NATCHEZ while rolling down the mighty Mississippi River. Our mini vacation to New Orleans may have been short but sweet (just like the ice cream), but while in 'The Big Easy' we walked all over the French Quarter, strolled down many of its narrow but picturesque   streets like Bourbon and St. Peter's, and when our legs gave out we rode the well preserved early 20th century trolley cars. The regional cuisine was plentiful and delicious even without having to add extra spices like 'Hot Bitch on the Beach' or my favourite 'Ying Yang Tang' c):-o. And yes we listened to all kinds of dixie, cajun and original New Orleans-style music. It was true Southern Comfort and hospitality at it's best.  
Oh, did I mention I snapped 45 boats (or ships) during our walkabouts along the waterfront or while cruising on the 265' NATCHEZ which was launched in 1976 in Braithwaite, Louisiana.
The NATCHEZ is truly a 'steamboat' and 'paddle wheeler' which is made of white oak and steel. She is the ninth riverboat to bear the name NATCHEZ and whenever she blasted her steam whistle which is located near her tall twin stacks, it reminded me of when I was a kid watching the TV show "Riverboat" which starred Darren McGavin and a very young Burt Reynold. Hear for yourself on this neat youtube clip:  Cool, EH!! Hey if you also recall watching this show in living 'Black & White', then I know your age. HeHee c);-b During our two hour afternoon cruise, we got to see a variety of boats, that I will be featuring in future Carlz Boats like a pair of US Military Sealift Command RO/RO ships, the CAPE KNOX and CAPE KENNEDY (above), all kinds of barges, pushboats and tugs underway or like snapped below, tied off waiting for their next assignment. There were all kinds of salties in anchorage or others actively taking on cargo from barges tied off alongside. Lots of eye-opening boats in action just feet (or metres) away from us as the NATCHEZ sauntered by. c):-))         
Also, with the good, we got to see the bad, and ongoing ugly effects of Hurricane Katrina which made landfall just east of New Orleans in 2005 flooding 80% of the city when the levee system catastrophically failed resulting in floodwaters lingering in some neighbourhoods for weeks. 
On the left side of my snap above, a gentleman relaxes carefree on a levee bench where almost nine years earlier, the Lower 9th Ward, in the very neighbourhood just feet behind him, literally became an urban bayou swamped in floodwater 2 to 3 feet of water high.

Nowhere in New Orleans was the destruction greatest than in the Lower 9th where the storm surge was so great that even the highest portions were flooded. During Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Holy Cross School (right), served as a dry refuge. Meanwhile today the infamous neighbourhood landmark remains scarred and abandoned, a sad reminder of Katrina's devastation. 

As the NATCHEZ rounded Algiers Point, everything looks calm and peaceful as a resident leisurely walks his dog the along the Mississippi shoreline and beyond the high levee wall that fortifies the 15th Ward community. In a few weeks, the setting may look quite different as the river is anticipated to crest near the top of the levee due to the annual spring run off of melting snow and ice from up yonder in the northern states and Great Lakes going with the flow to the Gulf of Mexico. Of course this is also an area of the continent that did receive the worst winter condition in 2O years. YIKES!!
Meanwhile, just off the port bow of the NATCHEZ, a busy commercially active harbour and river re-enters our view as pushboats and their laiden barges pass beyond and beneath the massive span of the Greater New Orleans Bridge, and the sleek cruise ship CARNIVAL ELATION makes ready to get underway. Though our New Awlins (as locals pronounce it) adventure may have ended too soon, the Carlz Boats stories of the 40 some odds boats I snapped down there, has just begun. YES!!
Meanwhile, for anything I may have left out above, check this action packed video of NATCHEZ, or not. c);-b       

Saturday 3 May 2014


Alas, spring has arrived along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Pretty much all of the snow which seemed to be everywhere you looked since late November has melted except perhaps for the odd clump hidden in a shaded area or former mountains of the white stuff that had been piled high during continuous clearing operations throughout our worst winter in 20 years. Even though Lake Superior is still over 30% covered with ice and remnants of 'Polar Vortex from Hell' may bob-about that big lake until late June, no frozen floaters were visible during our recent drive down to Loyalist Park near Mariatown, Ontario.
What we did see though were the American Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation's work tugs, PERFORMANCE and ROBINSON BAY, making good speed heading downbound to the home base near the Eisenhower Lock at Massena, New York. This dynamic dual has been kept very busy laying navigation aids along both sides of the Seaway channels, an activity that is normally commenced two weeks prior and completed by the opening of the Seaway on March 28th. However this year's unusually cold and windy winter resulted in an extensive amount of ice in the Seaway channels from Lake Ontario through to Montreal. What else is new! Ice conditions were so overwhelming that this year's opening of the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway was delayed an additional five day to March 31st and even when ships attempted to transit the system, they needed ongoing assistance from icebreakers and could only motor during the day because it was too dangerous to do so at night without navigation aids. Once the ice conditions improved, it was game on for the crews of the icebreaker and buoy tender CCGS GRIFFON and Team: PERFORMANCE and ROBINSON BAY to quickly re-intall markers and buoy on both sides of the Seaway like those that were still perched on buoy barge BPL-6604 that was being pushed by the 'ROBBY BAY' across from us at Loyalist Park on April 19.
The 103' ROBINSON BAY which was built for the SLSDC in 1957 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is a Class 1A icebreaking tug. While being re-powered in 1991 in Cleveland, Ohio and she was given an upper pilothouse to increase visibility and safety when pushing tall loads on the buoy barge as shown in the above snap.
Meanwhile the 50' PERFORMANCE appeared to be on a collision course with the 607' straight deck laker MANITOBA also making a great wake while motoring upbound towards Iroquois Lock.