Tuesday 31 March 2015

Light Icebreaker CCGS MARTHA L. BLACK (Revisited)

Had gangs of fun on Sunday afternoon tracking and snapping the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, MARTHA L. BLACK as she cut her way through an ice covered St. Lawrence River near Upper Canada Village, and then made lots of wake as she motored upbound past Morrisburg, Mariatown's Loyalist Park and Iroquois Lock.
Hearing MARTHA L. BLACK smash through the ice was quite the treat. Apparently on board it sounds like a metal garbage can constantly tumbling in a clothes dryer. YIKE!! Wrong time to grab a few extra Zzzz's 😴 I guess, eh! c):-o

MARTHA passing a permanent marker across from the Battle of Crysler's Farm Park.
Mixture of ice and open water while passing Morrisburg.
Seeing an icebreaker pass by is truly is a sign of spring for any St. Lawrence River boatlubber, but on Sunday many also got to see the Polar-class heavy icebreaker CCGS PIERRE RADISSON also motoring upbound about an hour earlier than MARTHA. I was also hoping to snap her too but MarineTraffic AIS still had her near Eisenhower Lock when she was probably leaving Iroquois. Picked the wrong day to not to go to Iroquois Lock first. DARN c):-()
I don't always snap boats, eh!
MARTHA approaching Loyalist Park.
Lots of turns in this section of the Seaway.
With the ice out and away thanks primarily to the wind, MARTHA continues at a pretty good clip to Iroquois Lock.
MARTHA is perfectly lined up with the original Iroquois Lock at the entrance to the old Galop Canal.
All ahead SLOW approach to current Iroquois Lock

The light icebreaker MARTHA L. BLACK is a High Endurance Multi-Tasked Vessel and her primary mission as a buoy tender is to lay, recover and service buoys using her heavy lifting boom which has a maximum lifting capacity of 20 tons. Built in 1986 in North Vancouver BC, the 272' MARTHA is equipped with a helicopter and a special bow that enables her to conduct ice-breaking and ship escort operations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers, the Seaway and Great Lakes. When the shipping season was delayed last Spring due to severe ice conditions throughout the Great Lakes, the tough girl ventured all the way to Thunder Bay on Lakes Superior to keep that harbour accessible to lakers and deep-sea bulk carriers arriving to load a bumper-crop of grain at one of the port's many elevators.    

Skipper keeping an eye on the lock wall below.

As quickly as she arrived, the MARTHA L. BLACK was exiting Iroquois Lock and on her way to break up ice at Kingston, Bath and Picton. Once those Lake Ontario harbours have been opened, MARTHA will be returning downbound to continue ice breaking operations on the St. Lawrence River and assist with shipping in anticipation on the St. Lawrence Seaway's official opening on April 2.
While waiting for the snow to melt or Spring flowers to break ground, feel free read more about the MARTHA L. BLACK and my buddy Nathan Attard's great photos of her passing through Port Colborne on the way to the Lakehead last Spring by clicking this link: http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2014/04/light-icebreaker-ccgs-martha-l-black.html. Like what else are you going to do with your time? Maybe go stalking boats? c);-b

Saturday 21 March 2015

Bulk Carrier NOGAT (Revisited)

The first time I snapped the 489' bulk carrier NOGAT, she was parked on the other side of Havana harbour with her forward hatch open and deck cranes at the ready to unload her cargo. Since as I mentioned in my earlier post that the NOGAT's next port of call was New Orleans (http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/01/bulk-carrier-nogat.html), you can be certain she wasn't taking on a load of cargo for delivery up the Mississippi due to the trade embargo that has been in place since 1962.  It was our first visit to Cuba in January 2013 and though I hoped some day the Cuban and U.S. relationship would warm up like the Straits of Florida breeze, it was the constant fear of invasion from their neighbour to the north that most Cubans felt was more likely to happen. Though the US invasion at the Bay of Pigs failed in April 1961, every year since there are nationwide drills in Cuba on Defence Day in December to prepare the population for an invasion. 
Artillery batteries were positioned along the coastline and machine-gun pillboxes were also constructed like a grouping that I discovered located in front of our resort in Varadero during our third Cuban visit last January.  For decades Cubans have had to do without items that we take for granted like basic hygiene products and clothing, because of poor decisions that were made decades ago.
However perhaps their years of anguish and suffering may soon be coming to an end when U.S. President Barack Obama announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States. After months of secret negotiations in Canada and The Vatican, an agreement was made that would see the lifting of some U.S. travel and remittance restrictions, U.S. banks access to the Cuban financial system, and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana, which closed in 1961 after Cuba became far too close of an ally with the USSR. Not everyone is happy with the U.S. President's initiative, but the Cuban people that we talked to a few months ago are gleaming with joy. American money is accepted and Stars and Stripes T-shirts are being worn on the streets of Havana by Cubans, something you'd never see during our previous two visits. Perhaps change is in the air. About time!! c):-))
Meanwhile back at the boat blog, I caught another glimpse of the bulker NOGAT last September as she was slowly motoring out of Iroquois Lock heading downbound to the next set of Seaway locks, and then eventually to her final destination, Ravenna, Italy. Built in 1999 and flying the flag of Cyprus, the NOGAT looked impressively well maintained just like the other Poland based Polsteam sisters that I previously posted, the IRMA http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/07/bulk-carrier-irma.html and SOLINA http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/12/bulk-carrier-solina.html.
She is also named after Poland's 62 km long Nogat River which is actually an anabranch of the Vistula River. Unlike a tributary, an anabranch or delta branch is a section of a river that is diverted from the main channel and region downstream. Instead of emptying into the Baltic Sea at Gdansk like the Vistula River, the Nogat flows into the Vistula Lagoon which is located further east near the Russian border. During her short journey to the sea, the Nogat passes Malbork Castle which unlike the tiny pillboxes dug out of the hill in front of the Aguas Azules resort on Varadero, Cuba, the Malbork is the largest castle in the world by surface area and the largest brick building in Europe. Really!! c):-o  And also unlike those Cuban pillboxes, the classic medieval fortress was besieged by many invading forces including Hilter's Nazis since its construction was completed 1406.

On a brighter note, since President Obama's announcement on December 17, 2014, American and Cuba diplomats have met three times in Havana. As a result of productive discussions, limited imports of Cuban cigars and rum is already allowed along with the export of American computer and telecommunications technology to Cuba. It's being called the "Cuban Thaw" or maybe it's just "giving peace a chance". Whatever it is, I like it and please, don't let it stop!! c):-D

Saturday 7 March 2015

Self Unloader ALGOMA NAVIGATOR (Revisted)

When I snapped her in Toronto harbour on February 22, the weather looked about as bleak as the 729'11" ALGOMA NAVIGATOR's future. This is the second year in a row that I've found her berthed for winter along the north face of Pier 51. It's a good place for the NAVIGATOR to be, almost completely hidden behind the long white bubbled roof of Soccerworld's indoor pitches while surrounded with an ice covered harbour. 
It could have been much worse like fleetmate ALGOMA PROGRESS which I snapped on a more pleasant day near the end of March last year  at Pier 35 as the PROGRESS is currently being cut up for scrap by International Marine Salvage in Port Colborne. YIKES!! c):-()
When launched in 1968 her name was CANADIAN PROGRESS. Check out her story: http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/03/self-unloader-algoma-progress.html
When launched in 1967 at the J. Redmond & Sons Shipyards in South Shield, England, her name was DEMETERTON. Built as a deep sea bulk carrier, the 599'11" DEMETERTON could carry 21,105 tons of dry cargo. To this day she remains powered by a Doxford 9,680 hp diesel engine. In 1969 she was lengthened to 646'11" which increased her capacity to 25,500 tons. In 1975 she was purchased by Upper Lakes Group, renamed ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR and commenced hauling iron ore on the St. Lawrence River, coal from Vancouver to Hamilton and grain to Gdansk, Poland in 1977. She was lengthen to her current dimensions and had her capacity increased to 31,600 tons when a new cargo and bow section was added to her "saltie" stern and accommodations section in 1980 at Port Weller Dry Docks. She also received a bow thruster and new name, CANADIAN NAVIGATOR. In 1997, Port Weller Dry Docks installed her 260' discharging boom and self unloading equipment that allowed the NAVIGATOR to unload at a rate of 4,000 tons per hour.
Upbound CANADIAN NAVIGATOR approaching tie-up wall below Lock 8 in Port Colborne. Photo taken by Great Lakes Pilot - Captain Graham Grattan on July 27, 2010
When Upper Lakes was sold to Algoma Central in 2011, her name was changed to ALGOMA NAVIGATOR and despite her age, she continues to be useful hauling a variety of cargoes such as coal, coke, slag, stone, iron ore, salt, sand, fertilizers, gypsum and grain products, but for how long. Her end may be near as Algoma Central plans to introduce 4 new energy efficient and environmentally friendly Equinox-class self discharging bulk carriers to their fleet in 2015 and 2016. Despite her modifications and experiences, it's just a matter of time before the NAVIGATOR sets her final course to the cutter's touch as she gets replaced by the eager-beaver new kids on the block. And that's a plight that none of us getting on in age looks forward to experiencing anytime soon. Know what mean? c):-o
Downbound ALGOMA NAVIGATOR motors by Cardinal's river park and Casco starch plant in July 2012. 

Her last winter layup, Montreal - February 15, 2016
My first winter visit to the Old Port of Montreal to see what was laid there on a very cold February 15, 2016, also turned out to be the last time I would see and photograph the ALGOMA NAVIGATOR. 
Her last winter layup, Montreal - February 15, 2016
 NAVI leaving Montreal June 16, 2016 - photo by Rene Beauchamp 
Update: April 7, 2020

In the coming months the former British-built deep-sea bulk carrier then converted into a Great Lakes self unloader would have her name and Algoma's emblem painted over and then towed overseas for scrap. The then named NAVI reached the beaches of Aliaga, Turkey for dismantling on July 27, 2016. Another one gone but not forgotten, c):-((

Sunday 1 March 2015

NOLA Barges & Towboats

Crane barge & SHANE C pushes by tanker barge & LORI JOHNSON just beyond the twin span Crescent City Connection Bridge.
Old Glory sailpast. 
NOLA, a.k.a. "New Orleans, Louisiana", "The Big Easy", "The Crescent City", and due to the carefree and easy-going nature of so many who live there, it's also been tagged "The City That Care Forgot". Like most days this winter that started with an outside temperature of -25C which actually felt like -36C in the wind, a return to the southern comfort and hospitality we received when visiting New Orleans last May, could be just what the doctor ordered for anyone living north of the Great Lakes regions suffering from the ongoing "When's it gonna end" winter blahs. However, a nickname that might be added to the books is "The City with the River That Never Stops". No, I'm not talking about the lazy Mississippi that saunters along almost motionless at 3 miles per hour day in and day out but instead the constant ship movement of bulk carriers, container ships, tankers, cruise ships, harbour tugs, ferries, replica paddle wheelers like the NATCHEZ and CREOLE (snapped up above), but most importantly, barges and their towboats.

NOLA is home to the 6th largest port in the United States and has the longest wharf in the world, over 2 miles long which can accommodate 15 salties at once. The port also handles over 50,000 barges annually carrying just about anything from corn to wheat, oil seeds and grain products to stone, coal and oil products.
Most of the barges we saw from along NOLA's waterfront park or when cruising along the Mississippi on the steam paddle-wheeler NATCHEZ, were powered by square bowed towboats with steel knees designed for pushing like the 79' LOUISIANAN (above) owned by Hagman Marine of Houston, Texas. Here's some more boats & barges:
Downbound 69' SAFETY PRIORITY pushing a tanker barge both owned by AEP River Operations.
Downbound 72' STEPHANIE STONE by John W. Stone Oil Distributors pushes a tanker barge.
Built in 2011 is the 70' and 1330 hp ERIC BUNCE pushing the 10,000 barrel clean chemical barge WEB 126. Both owned by Blessey Marine Services of Harahan, LA. 
Motoring along upbound is the Kirby Inland Marine owned 130.5' CITY OF REDWOOD pushing black oil tankers KIRBY 28185 & 28183

When launched in 1974 in Carlyss, LA, this twin screw and 3800 horsepower towboat was named W.F. FREDEMAN JR. In 1995 she was renamed CITY OF REDWOOD when purchased by Kirby Inland Marine of Houston, TX 
Group of coal laden hoppers wait to be midstream loaded into a deep sea bulk carrier further downsteam. That story and snaps to be featured soon in Carlz Boats. I know you can hardly wait, eh! c):-b

Towboats and barges waiting to dock space.
Empty hoppers waiting to take on cargo.
Loaded hoppers waiting to go ANYWHERE!!.
A non-squared bow towboat that we saw during our NATCHEZ cruise was the 100' Patapsco-class tug WYR RIVER parked along her also Vane Brothers owned tanker barge, DOUBLE SKIN 53. The 362.5' 53 was built in 2006 with 2 hulls, which prevents leakage of any of its 50,000 barrels of heavy oil and another potential environmental disaster if the barge struck an object below the waterline like the super tanker EXXON VALDEZ did off the coast of Alaska in 1989. Another Vane Brothers tandem featured in Carlz Boats  was the towboat ROANOKE and the slightly small tanker barges DOUBLE SKIN 214 & 216. My friend Jim snapped them along the Wicomico River in Salsbury, Maryland. Feel free to check out that post: http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/07/tanker-barge-double-skin-214-pushboat.html

Dock up ahead not ready just yet? No Problem!! Just nudge your payload into the Mississippi silt and then tie her off to a tree. Worked for the 78' JUSTIN D. SBISA and her chemical barge FMT 3026. c):-))

No doubt about it, the Mississippi River is a critical artery for the United States carrying over 2 billion bushels of grain and 20% of America's coal and petroleum products yearly downstream to river ports like NOLA destined to world markets. The fact is, it would take 16 rail cars or 70 trucks to carry a normal barge load of dry cargo and 46 rail cars or 144 truck to transport a normal barge load of liquid cargo. Regardless of size or type, river barges and their towboats are needed especially this unknown re-fueler below laden with bunker to keep commerce moving along the "River that Never Stops". C);-b

BTW: Happy 46th Anniversary to my good friend Jim and his wife Dawn of Salisbury, Maryland who have been escaping from winter in Fort Myers, Florida since before Christmas. As my grandson Hayden would say, "Lucky Ducks!!" (:()

Meanwhile, everyone else who's tired of of winter and waiting for the snow to melt, check out these previous NOLA posts about the steam paddle-wheeler NATCHEZ http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2014/05/steamboat-natchez_15.html and those two big grey hulks down river in the background, the CAPE KENNEDY & CAPE KNOX http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2014/08/roro-carriers-cape-kennedy-cape-knox.html.