Saturday 29 November 2014


I can't tell you how many times we've driven over the Burlington Skyway and haven't seen a single boat approach or pass beneath the massive steel structure through the canal piers below.
Meanwhile, my sister Karin and bil (brother-in-law) Paul are down along the beach strip below birding and what comes motoring in off Lake Ontario but the 656' Fednav bulk carrier FEDERAL KUMANO. Unbelievable!! c):-o Built in 2003 in Oshima, Japan, the KUMANO flies the flag of Hong Kong and is one of about 1,000 cargo vessels to transit the Burlington Canal yearly while accessing Hamilton Harbour, the largest Canadian port on the Great Lakes. The original canal was opened in 1826 and is situated at about the midpoint of the natural sandbar beach strip. In 1830, the first of five movable bridges was constructed and the most recent lift bridge version, seen in Karin's snap below, was opened in 1962.
The beach strip is about 8 kilometres long by about a half kilometre wide and for many years, Beach Boulevard, the roadway that travels through it, was part the Queen Elizabeth Way (aka QEW) which was the primary link between Toronto and Hamilton, and then further along to the Niagara Peninsula. In April 1952, the north span of the bascule bridge failed to lift for the inbound American self unloader W.E. FITZGERALD. Despite dropping both anchors and reversing it's engine, the W.E. FITZGERALD was unable to stop in time and knocked the span into the canal thereby closing the QEW.  In October 1958 the Burlington Bay Skyway which crosses high over the canal channel and most of the beach strip for that matter, opened. In 1985 a second span was opened and with 4 lanes in both direction, it's estimated 149,000 vehicles crosses the bridge daily.
Back in it's day, it appears the beach strip was the place to be. Along with a beautiful long beach, there was an amusement park with all sorts of rides and at the Pier Ballroom, then famous stars like Ozzie Nelson, the Clooney Sisters and Duke Ellington played there. As a kid, I remember going on some of rides when visiting the park during a family day trip. It was a pretty quiet neighbourhood when we drove along the strip last September. Instead of a railway lines that would carry passengers to the beach, a long paved trail skirts along the shoreline ideal for walkers, joggers and cycling. Apparently it's also a great location for birding, a hobby my sister and bil have enjoyed for many year. Unfortunately, Karin and Paul didn't send me any pics of the Long-tail ducks, Mergansers, and Northern Mockingbird that they snapped that day, but I did get these snaps of the FEDERAL KUMANO. For that, I am grateful or as my grandson Hayden often says, a "Lucky Duck" c);-b
BTW: Before being scrapped at Ramey's Bend in Port Colborne in 1971, the old W.E. FITZGERALD seemed to have a knack for running into bridges. Check out this Boatnerd link for more of the FITZGERALD's close encounters with bridges and things that didn't move:

Sunday 16 November 2014

Bulk Carrier MOTTLER

It was like déjà vu all over again. There parked across from me at the foot of Jarvis Street and Queen Quay in Toronto last Saturday morning was a big green hulled saltie. Her name was the MOTTLER. Odd name, I thought, just like when I snapped the SHOVELER, another green hulled saltie also tied off tight to the wall at the Redpath Sugar plant dock in August 2012. Both ships are 607' long and built in China in 2009 but at different shipyards. Regardless, it's amazing how much these two sisters look alike though it's plain to see rough weather and salt-spraying during many ocean transits has taken a toll on MOTTLER's appearance especially near her bulbous bow. Other than design, each ship is owned by Navarone Marine of Limassol, Cyprus though they are chartered by Canadian Forest Navigation of Montreal which displays their graphic "Canfornav" emblem on each ship's light yellow stack (which you'll notice in the snaps down below).

Neither the blustery winter cold temps or rusted out structure unloading sugar cane seemed to bother a sord of mallards gathered on the dock or rafting about on the choppy slip below because perhaps what they really wanted was to just be near a ship that was named after a type of duck, as is the case for all Canfornav ships in their fleet, or NOT c):-o Actually, MOTTLER is a nickname for Mottled ducks or mottled mallards that live along the Gulf of Mexico coast from Florida to as far south as Veracruz, Mexico. Meanwhile, SHOVELER ducks have been known to breed in northern areas of Europe and Asia, winter in southern Europe and Africa and have also been seen in Australia and South America. In North America they have been known to breed from southern Hudson Bay, the Great Lakes, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon.

Since discharging sugar cane at Redpath's in Toronto, MOTTLER has made her way up to Thunder Bay to take on a load of grain destined to an overseas port much like the BLACKY which I snapped (below) motoring downbound past Morrisburg on a very cold Boxing Day 2012. BLACKY is short for the North American BLACK duck which resembles the female mallard in colouration though the black duck's plumage is darker. They have been known to breed from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, across Ontario, Quebec and Canada's Atlantic provinces, as well as throughout Great Lakes region and Adirondacks in the United States.
Hey, though I maybe known to duck out of certain responsibilities, I'm definitely no water fowl expert so feel free to find out more about our webfooted friends via Google or whatever, and you may also want to check my earlier encounter with the BLACKY, by clicking on to this link: You can do that when you have some "down" time, or NOT. c);-b