Sunday 29 June 2014

Multi Purpose Container Ship SCL BERN

Take that 'Polar Vortex' with your nasty sub-arctic temps and bone chilling winds!! Summer is here, Baby! with daytime highs of 30+ Celsius or 90 whatever Fahrenheit. Yes, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer have arrived but if you don't protect yourself from those constant daily ultra-violet rays, you could end up with a red hot nasty burn. YIKES c):-E). However, an example of a not so nasty burn, but looked 'hot, Hot, HOT' when she was snapped by my friend, Nathan Attard in Port Colborne on April 18th was the red-hulled SCL BERN. Wow, that was one tough segue, eh. c);-b. Anyway, on that day, I asked Nathan to take some photos of another red-hulled beauty, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, MARTHA BLACK which was on her way to Thunder Bay to assist shipping in the ice-locked Lake Superior Thank You Polar Vortex! NOT!! c):-0
Nathan was already down by the stone dock to snap the CUYAHOGA (in the background of the BLACK pic), but he had to first wait for the BERN to motor out of Lock 8. The 459' SCL BERN is a dry cargo multi-purpose container ship that was built in 2005 in Japan. With her two heavy lift cranes she can haul just about anything including up to 766 containers. SCL BERN is owned by Enzian Ship Management of Zurich, Switzerland  with her homeport being Basel. Yes, Switzerland is a land-locked European country but it does have access to the North Sea which is approximately 800 kilometres away via the Rhine River which technically makes Basel, Switzerland's largest "Seaport"c)8-(). Though she cautiously motored past Nathan in his snaps below Lock 8 in Port Colborne, the SCL BERN was creating quite a wake the next day when I snapped her near Prescott, Ontario along the St. Lawrence River as the multi-purpose container ship made her way downbound to an overseas destination unknown.

Talking about container ships, look what I got for Father's Day!! It's a "Playmobil Cargo 1007 container ship and loading dock" Oh YEAH!! The crane actually has a motor (with batteries included) that allows containers to be lifted and moved from the dock and then lowered into the boat's hold. YAA! Great toy for kids 21 months to 62+ years old so it'll be gangs of fun when my grandsons come over for a visit. I can hardly wait. Thanks  Janie, but too bad for 'Rubber Ducky', who now has to share the cement pond with 'Carlz Boats'. Sorry for the quacky humour. NOT!! c);-b

Saturday 21 June 2014

The Canaller BIRCHTON (Revisited)

Not much was unknown when I snapped this photo from the north wall on the former Galop Canal's Iroquois Lock last November. The far distant upbound in the background approaching the current St. Lawrence Seaway Iroquois Lock was the 740' WHITEFISH BAY. Though it was a 'newbee', or 'first-time photo op' for me, I knew it was the second of four CSL state-of-the-art Trillium-class self discharging bulk carriers which were built in 2012-13 in China and since I had already posted two of her sisters, the BAIE ST. PAUL and BAIE COMEAU, I wasn't expecting any surprises, but rather another opportunity to say, "GOTCHA" as I clicked on my camera. But if you want to read more about her, click onto this link, or not at:
However, when I first saw this black & white photo, below on the website '', I had all kinds of questions because the upbound entering the then Iroquois Lock was my dad's boat, the BIRCHTON.
When and who took the photo is unknown but it's part of a unique library of Seaway related photos and documents that my friend and fellow 'Boatnerd', Ron Beaupre of Mariatown, Ontario has collected over the years and has given me permission to post it today. As mentioned in the WHITEFISH BAY post, I recall my dad, who was Third Mate on the BIRCHTON until 1947, telling me about his boat's many passages along the Cornwall and Galop canals. The key question is, was my dad on the BIRCHTON when his boat was photographed above? Was he in the wheelhouse that day when the steamer was edged into position? Was he the person you can see standing on the foc's'le just above the ship's name closest to the lockwall keeping and eye on the lines which was a responsibility of the Third Mate or Safety Officer. Or, perhaps it was my dad who is standing behind the lifering on the BIRCHTON's bridge wing on the port or left side marking the ship's movement or getting direction the lockmaster, also key responsibilities if my dad was the Officer of the Watch. So many questions and no Wikipedia or my dad, who passed away in 1991 to clarify the unknowns.

For certain though, when the 261' BIRCHTON was built in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1924, she was owned Mathews Steamships Company of Toronto. The Mathews fleet consisted of three canallers all named after  trees known to Canada, the birch, cedar and oak. Each had the suffix "TON" added to their names which was short for the city where the company's head office was located, or "Toronto-ONtario". In the 1930's, the canallers were purchased twice, first by Lake Steamship Company 1931 and then in 1938 they were sold to form the 'new' Gulf & Lake Navigation Company. Regardless of the change of ownership, each ship kept their name with the "TON" or "Toronto-ONtario" suffix even though the company was based in Montreal. While under the Gulf & Lake Navigation banner, the BIRCHTON, CEDARTON, and OAKTON, were kept busy tranferring cargoes of grain, coal, and pulpwood through the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River canals and across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the then British colony, Newfoundland. The runs across the Gulf were sometimes quite rough like in this photo that my dad took while he was trying to get back up forward after lunch. The trips were especially necessary because that's where my dad met my mother in Corner Brook. Though my dad quit sailing and moved to Port Colborne with my mom in 1948 to have my sisters and I, (among other things, of course c):-o), the BIRCHTON continued to be useful for G&LN until 1961 when she was sold and converted into a floating drydock in Bathurst, New Brunswick. She was eventually was scrapped in Halifax in 1978. Meanwhile, the CEDARTON was scrapped in 1963 in Montreal after being used for salt storage in Port Cartier, Quebec for one winter, and the OAKTON was torpedoed by the German U-517 and sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1942.
More photos from Ron's library includes the BIRCHTON (above) tied off during winter layup in Toronto harbour snapped by Alf King "many moons" ago and below, her fully loaded sister, the CEDARTON appears to be motoring along downbound in then 'new' Welland Canal in the early 1930's. To see more great photos and descriptions about the St. Lawrence River canals including the Galop, be sure to check out It'll be time well spent.

Though the gates and light standards have long been removed, the lockmaster's shack and tie off posts remain at the old Iroquois Lock which is active now as a slip or entrance to the Galop Canal marina. Tied off along it's wall sits the built in 1937 tug then converted into a dive tender and pleasure craft, EDITH GAUTHIER, as another 'tree named ship with a suffix', the 730' BIRCHGLEN gently passes by. As I get back to my yard work chores, feel free to read more about the BIRCHGLEN on this exciting link: She too is now gone but not forgotten. c):-))

Sunday 8 June 2014

Oil/Chemical Tanker ALGOCANADA

I don't generally do two tanker posts in a row but when I heard the 426' ALGOCANADA was transiting through Iroquois Lock yesterday afternoon, well I just had to drop my yard work tools and be there to salute her through. The ALGOCANADA is no ordinary tanker, she's a hero, or rather, a heroine in boat terms. When you're snapping shots with a daytime high yesterday of 29C (or 84F), you are not really giving much thought about the past winter, the WORST ONE IN 35 YEARS!! Every lake and river west of the Niagara was jammed with ICE and according to the US Coast Guard, this winter's ICE season will be one for the record books, producing the thickest and most expansive ICE coverage the Great Lakes has experienced since 1979. What's almost as remarkable is that apparently the Great Lakes region has 5 seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and ICE, while up here in Ottawa we only have 2 seasons: Winter and Construction!!
Meanwhile, when Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario was running low on fuel oil last winter, who came to the rescue? What is the ALGOCANADA, Alex? Correct Answer! Too bad it wasn't a Daily Double, eh. c);-b
Yup, while escorted by USCGC KATMAI BAY, it took eight days for the ALGOCANADA to transit the ice clogged St. Mary's River, a journey that in normal conditions would have been completed in about 12 hours. Twice the escort had to be stopped to allow the KATMAI BAY (, to return to her homeport in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to refuel. Way to al-GO CANADA!! (Sorry) And Thank You USCGC KATMAI BAY!! The much needed cargo could not have arrived without your assistance.

But just as this past winter was very long and COLD, COLD, COLD, yesterday was unseasonably HOT, HOT, HOT especially for poor TannerDog who would rather PLAY, PLAY, PLAY fetch :>b. Instead like the good boat dog he is, he patiently sat in the shade while the Turkish built ALGOCANADA gingerly inched her way along the lock. Launched in 2008, the Algoma Tankers of St. Catharines, Ontario, owned ALGOCANADA was fully loaded and bound for Halifax. Okay Tanner, let's play ball!! CANADA, GO!! Sorry, It couldn't be helped. Again, Sorry. c);-b

Sunday 1 June 2014


The 455' Danish tanker LALANDIA SWAN was moving along pretty fast as I snapped her heading downbound at the Old Windmill Park near Prescott, Ontario last August. When she was launched in 1991 in Pula, Croatia, her name was TELSI. After a couple years of nurturing, she became a swan. First the EURO SWAN in 2001 and then the LALANDIA SWAN in 2011. With her belly or rather, her holds, filled to the max this refined oil from Nanticoke, Ontario, the SWAN glided along carefree past Seaway channel marker buoys and then like the beautiful water bird that's showcased on her bow and funnel, she delicately slipped through Iroquois Lock with pride and eloquence. Obviously she hadn't yet received the memo of her doomed fate.  

Memo, what memo? That would be the one that outlined that the LALANDIA SWAN was to be purchased by Rand Logistics of New York and then converted into a Great Lakes self unloading bulk carrier for Lower Lakes Towing of Port Dover, Ontario. YIKES!! c):-()
The bad news being that the aft section on the proud SWAN will be removed and attached to a new fore-body at the Chengxi Shipyards in Jiangyin, China. c):-(

The good news being that when all is said and done, the SWAN will live on for many more years, while motoring only fresh inland seas as the most modern 'River-class' self unloader in the Lower Lakes fleet. Along with the removal of her holds for slimy and grimy oil and chemicals, the new SWAN will grace the lakes in Lower Lakes traditional hull colours of white and light grey, much like an elegant swan. c):-) Though her name while must likely change again, a black hulled 'ugly duckling' she'll be no more. c);-b