Wednesday 29 October 2014

Duelling Self Unloaders ATLANTIC ERIE & CSL NIAGARA

On a warm sunny day in July 2005, I took this snap of Canada's War Memorial which you can see there in the middle of the frame. I took this shot from the Peace Tower's observation deck high above the Centre Block or House of Commons. Though unveiled in 1922 and officially known as the Tower of Victory and Peace to commemorate the Canadians who had given their lives during the World War I, many here may have felt the name symbolically suggested the Canadian way of life, that is going about our day peacefully and somewhat detached from the terrorist threats plagued by so many other countries. That all changed a week ago at around 10 am when chaos erupted in Ottawa as an army reservist guarding the National War Memorial's "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" was shot and killed by a masked gunman. Soon after, it was reported as many as 50 shots being fired inside the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings. Then it was later confirmed that the gunman was shot dead inside the building by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms and the RCMP. Not knowing whether more attacks were imminent, much of Ottawa's downtown core was placed under lockdown.

When I returned to work as an OC Transpo bus operator at 12:30, I was told many drivers were asked to come back in early to help get the thousands of people out of the downtown core.  Fortunately for me, much of my work that day was servicing neighbourhoods in the west and south ends of the city with the exception of one route that would take me through the core later in the afternoon. Regardless though, it was easy to see that the shock and horror being experience by so many near Parliament Hill was also being felt throughout the city. So many of my customers were in disbelief and eager to get home, while others showed signs of anxiety and would rather stay on my bus than go to work or wherever. Though the lockdown did not officially end until late Wednesday night, our main west and easterly routing through the downtown core had been reopened by the time I made my last trip of the day through there just after 5 pm.  It's a drive-through that I'll never forget. I wouldn't go so far as saying you could hear a pin drop, but it was very quiet and surreal. Each street heading up to Parliament Hill was empty and motionless, barricaded by police and their cruisers, and the bright lights of a TV reports being broadcasted "LIVE" could be seen at almost every corner.

As days go by, we're first told the radicalized gunman acted alone, that he was troubled and mentally unstable, then on Monday he was deemed a terrorist once again as a video taped days before the attack surfaced outlining his intended actions and political beliefs. It's been a pretty rough week as two Canadian soldiers were killed within a day of each other due to terrorist ideology, the first resulting from a hit & run in Quebec on October 20th. Though it's been stated that Canadians will not be intimidated, and we are also encouraged to simply 'STAY CALM & CARRY ON"!! which is probably the best policy. However in doing so we have to remember though we were all knocked down, we've since got up again, and nothing is going to keep us down (Sorry Chumbawamba).
For me, it's just more of the status quo: operating my bus with my "EYES WIDE OPEN" while whistling or singing a tune to myself like "Don't worry, BE HAPPY", and just like any other day I will continue to enjoy time with my family and friends, and as often as possible, publish blogposts about BOATS, like....

...while returning home from "Old Stomping Ground Tour & Back", we figured if traffic on the 401 continued to move along, we might see the 730' CSL self unloader ATLANTIC ERIE transit Iroquois Lock. Yes indeedy, we made it just as the sun was starting to set which didn't allow for a lot of great boat snaps, but the fall colours sure looked great, eh? Then just as the downbound ERIE was exiting the lock, Janie tells me the upbound CSL NIAGARA was just passing Morrisburg. YES!! So back in the car we go hoping to snap the CSL fleetmates pass each further down river.
With luck on our side, that's exacting what happened. Motoring at a good clip and with her long unloading boom lifted high above her deck, the CSL NIAGARA looked like a medieval jouster protecting our honour, ON GUARD FOR THEE!! while bearing down on   still in the water ATLANTIC ERIE. Or perhaps NOT c):-s
Well it definitely was a pretty close encounter just the same as you can see from Janie's snaps below taken with her iPhone while I stood amongst the sumacs along the river bank (see bottom right-hand corner for MOI). The two big self unloaders just kept getting closer...
...and closer...
...and closer...
...and closer...
...and closer...
...until they looked like one, side by side...
...then continued on their merry way. The ATLANTIC ERIE to Belledune, New Brunswick and CSL NIAGARA to Duluth, Minnesota.
It was quite a hoot for Janie and I to snap these two CSL self unloaders and if you listen closely to our YouTube video, you can hear the excitement of both crews as the fleetmates passed by (
The last time I snapped these two boats together, the ATLANTIC ERIE was the "high in the water" vessel motoring upbound above Lock 7 in Thorold, Ontario. For more info about her, click onto this earlier Carlz Boat post link (, or NOT!! c);-b

Sunday 19 October 2014

Self Unloader JOHN J. BOLAND

I'm certain it was an unusual event for many local boatnerds in Port Colborne last month when they caught glimpse of the big American self loader JOHN J. BOLAND discharging cargo at the old Government elevator. Fortunately "Have iPhone, Will Snap Boats", Nathan Attard was there to shoot these pics of her. YES!! c):-))
The Government Elevator or now known as Southpier Terminal is owned by Winnipeg-based Parrish-Heimbecker. The big grey landmark located near the south entrance of the Welland Canal was built in the early 1900's as a storage facility that apparently can hold over 81,000 metric tonnes of wheat, corn, soybeans, rye and mustard seed in it's 267 bins. The old elevator has loaded and discharged many boats over the years and as I experience during the summer of 1971, it's one HOT place to work at too. When you have a moment, you can read more about that eye-opening and fun time in my life in this link, or not: ( Back then big arms were lowered into a standard straightdeck bulk carrier (like the MANITOBA in my linked post) to bucket lift the grain or whatever into the storage bins or silos inside. What's different and shown in Nathan's snaps here, is the BOLAND is using it's 250' boom and belted conveyor to discharge into a hopper halfway up the side of the old elevator. How COOL is that, EH?? c):-o
What's also unique is that there's not a lot of room in the channel between harbour pier and the breakwall for the 680' BOLAND to manoeuvre and then turn into the docking slip. Good job skipper!! c):-x
Her name was the CHARLES E. WILSON when launched in 1973 at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon, Wisconsin for the American Steamship Co. of Williamville, New York and then changed in January 2000 to JOHN J. BOLAND, after the co-founder of the company.
The previous BOLAND had been sold to Lower Lakes Towing of Port Dover and renamed the SAGINAW (to check out her snaps in one of my early Carlz Boat post, click:

Using the timer feature on his recently upgraded iPhone, Nathan snapped himself with the newer JOHN J. BOLAND in the background on September 18th. Currently Nathan is recovering from surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. I'm glad the operation was a success, so take care my friend and get well. Also thank you for these snaps and the many others that you've allowed me to post and BTW Nathan, "Nice HAT!! c);-b

Viewers Gallery:

"Have boat will take photos of much bigger boats".....would probably be a neat slogan for Jeff Cameron's business card. Here's a couple of Jeff's upfront and in-your-face pics of JOHN J. BOLAND finishing up her discharge also at the old Government Elevator on September 18, 2014. 

Nice relections and thanks again Jeff!!

Monday 13 October 2014

Self Discharging Bulk Carrier THUNDER BAY

GOTCHA!! The plan was to hook up at fellow boatnerd, Ron Beaupre's place in Mariatown to see and hear the downbound ALGOMA EQUINOX blast out a salute while motoring by Ron and Jeanine's seaway-front homestead, And... perhaps snap the upbound THUNDER BAY pass by at the same time. OH YAA!! The T-BAY was the only CSL Trillium-class self discharging bulk carrier that I hadn't snapped yet so to get them both in the same frame and hearing them blare their horns was going to be like being in 'Boatnerd Heaven" eh!! c):-0 Except the skipper on the 740' THUNDER BAY, which was riding high in ballast and making really good time, preferred to meet the EQUINOX along the north wall below Iroquois Lock. No Problem!! c):-x
Initiate Plan B: meet the THUNDER BAY at Loyalist Park, (which is about half way in between Ron's place and Iroquois lock), and NOT get a speeding ticket while motoring the 113 km from Kanata to the park. And... just like the Canadian courier company GoJIT,  I got there 'Just In Time" to get these snaps of the speedy THUNDER BAY. OH YAA!! c);-b
Then off to Iroquois Lock where from a new "Classified" vantage point that Ron told me about, I got to snap and video the ALGOMA EQUINOX blast a salute as she motored out of the lock (take a listen: Beauty, I really like it!! Though I wasn't able to snap the pair off Ron's dock together, it was still quite pleasing and somewhat "apropros" to even snap them below Iroquois Locks since they were both the best of their class and fleet. They were both built and launched in China in 2013, and the ALGOMA EQUINOX which I featured in my blog last month ( was carrying prairie grain that was loaded in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the other bulk carrier's namesake. How cool is that?
What a beautiful autumn day it was as the THUNDER BAY continued her approach in the Seaway's last lock before reaching the open water of upper St. Lawrence River and then Lake Ontario. After climbing the Niagara escarpment via the Welland Canal and then motoring up Lake Erie, the THUNDER BAY would take on a load of road salt at the Windsor salt mine in Ojibway and then deliver it to Calumet, Illinois. OK Polar Vortex - Bring It On, or NOT!!

The THUNDER BAY is the second of four Trillium-class self discharging bulk carriers to enter service in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence system between 2012-13. The next two  Trilliums will be gearless bulk carriers like the ALGOMA EQUINOX which you can see  continuing downbound behind the T-BAY in the above and left snaps. Both new bulkers are expected to arrive in Canada for service later this year and will be named CSL ST-LAURENT and CSL WELLAND to commemorate the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal. Meanwile, the THUNDER BAY is the third Canada Steamship Lines vessel to bear the name. The first sailed between 1921-40 and a was canaller about the size of my Dad's ship, the BIRCHTON, ( The second was a 663' straightdecker that was built in 1952 at Port Arthur Shipbuilding in the Ontario community that when amalgamated with Fort William in 1970, the new city became known as "THUNDER BAY". Apropos, Coincidence, or None of the Above c);-b

Sunday 5 October 2014

Chemical/Product Tanker JO SPIRIT

Hello again!! We had a wonderful time during our 40th Wedding Anniversary tour to our old stomping grounds of Leamington and Windsor, Ontario with sidetrack boat snapping stops in Toronto, Port Burwell, Port Stanley, Kingsville,  Amhearstburg, Oakville, Clarkson and Iroquois Lock. WHEW!! That's a lot of motoring in just five days and once again, I've returned home with lots of great boat snaps but because of the day job, I remain searching for time to show off my snaps and tell you more about my "Excellent Boat Adventures" like when my boatnerd buddy Ron Beaupre of Mariatown invited me down to his place along the Seaway last weekend to a hear a special salute from the ship's captain of the ALGOMA EQUINOX who really liked my September 21 post about his ship. Click on to this link if you missed it: To listen to my unique salute as the EQUINOX passed by Ron and Jeanine's beautiful waterfront home, click on this link: It's a BLAST, eh? What an honour and thank you Ron for making it happen.
Meanwhile, shortly after the downbound ALGOMA EQUINOX motored by, along came the upbound 352' chemical and product tanker JO SPIRIT with her load of booze. Say WHAT? c):-()

Yup, you read it right. According to Ron, at least once a year the JO SPIRIT ventures into the Great Lakes with her belly full of wine or other spirits, (pun intended, c);-b) and this time she was making her way to Hamilton, Ontario with 4,500 tons of Bicardi rum from the Caribbean. Oh YAAA!! c):-))
Built in 1998 and owned by Jo Tankers of Bergen, Norway, the JO SPIRIT has segregated stainless steel cargo tanks and since her hull is double-skinned, if the SPIRIT was to run aground, you couldn't have your "Rum on the Rocks"!! Sorry, about that. NOT c);-b
As the modern-day "rum-runner" JO SPIRIT approaches Iroquois Lock, in the background you can see the downbound 489' Polsteam bulk carrier NOGAT. The last time is saw the NOGAT, she was moored in Havana, Cuba. I got some really nice snaps of her leaving Iroquois so until I can post a re-visit, here's a link to my original Carlz Boat post about the NOGAT and our first visit to Cuba: Here's Mud In Your Eye!!