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.

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