Wednesday 22 April 2015

Port Colborne Winter Layup

Back in March 1974 when I snapped my 1970 Chevy Malibu sitting in front of the self unloader and laid up for winter E.B. BARBER by the Rochester & Pittsburgh coal dock in Port Colborne, no one would have known anything about "global-warming" let alone suggesting it had anything to do with the mild spring-like temperatures and ice-less harbour conditions back then. I even recall my dad who was still working as a lockmaster on the Welland Canal, telling me that the then Seaway Authority was strongly considering keeping the canal open year-round. It never happened but perhaps it may have been worthwhile 18 years later, when my bil (brother-in-law) Mark, snapped the panoramic view below of another ice-less Port Colborne harbour on a mild St. Patrick's Day in 2012.

A normal ice-packed harbour returned in 2013....l
...and 2014 along with a nearly frozen solid Lake Erie due to the "Polar Vortex from Hell"!! Say What? c):-o Yup, you heard it right. Also known as a "polar cyclone", it hung over Eastern Ontario and the Great Lakes region for far TOO LONG!! c):-()
Feel free to read the whole bone chilling story about in this Carlz Boats post:, or NOT c);-b
Nathanz Boats
Nathanz Boats
As for 2015, well I believe these snaps taken by my man in Port Colborne, Nathan Attard, says it all. While I was on a beach in Cuba during the first week of January, Ontario and America's Great Lakes region got whacked with snow, freezing rain, then a deep-freeze drop in temperatures to -32 celsius in the wind. (Hehehee c);-D). I've since learned my lesson and now knows the true meaning of the saying, "He who laughs last, laughs last" because not only did it take me 45 minutes to chip the ice off my windshield at the Ottawa airport when we arrived back from our winter vacation in the SUN, but the snow and frigid cold blasts from Siberia continued until mid-March when our first thaw of the winter arrived a month late.
Nathanz Boats
Regardless of the temperatures outside or how brief the stay is, like CSL's self unloaders RT. HON. PAUL J. MARTIN and WHITEFISH BAY (which didn't arrive in Port [Colborne] until the last week of January), winter lay-up is the time for crews to make babies (or not) while others make the necessary repairs before the new shipping season commences. Most ship companies got an extra week to complete things, due to the St. Lawrence Seaways decision to delay the opening of their system until April 2 because of severe ice conditions throughout the Seaway and Great Lakes. The last time the Seaway delayed the opening of the season was in 1997.

Time is money and over the short but cold winter lay-up, CSL's Trillium-class self discharging bulk carrier BAIE COMEAU got a new coat of paint on her hull. Yes, she needed to look pretty because when the Welland Canal opened bright and early on April 2, her captain received the "Top Hat" Award for being the first downbound of the season at Lock 8. However soon after clearing the lock, the COMEAU turned herself around by the old Robin Hood flour mill and sat below the lock until a clear track could completed on an ice-laden Lake Erie by the Polar-class icebreaker, CCGS PIERRE RADISSON (
Meanwhile, due to her boom collapsing while discharging salt at Thessalon, on Lake Huron's North Channel on November 28th, the ALGOWAY sat at the old R.E. LAW stone dock since December 6 while her boom was repaired.
Despite the delayed Seaway season opening and ice jammed Great Lakes and rivers, all of Port Colborne's 2014-15 winter lay-up have left the Lake Erie port and southern entrance to the Welland Canal. First to leave on April 1st was the 730' self unloader ALGOWOOD which picked up a load of salt at Goderich for Duluth and is now anchored and waiting to pick up a load of prairie grain at Thunder Bay. Last to leave with a new end-section "crazy-glued" to her discharging boom was the ALGOWAY on April 15th.
Though not actually a winter lay-up despite her late December arrival at Port Colborne,  one ship remains until she is no more, the 730' ALGOMA PROGRESS. Surrounded in a thick lakefront fog at the International Marine Salvage dock, the record breaking PROGRESS looked bashful or ashamed in Nathan Attard's photo above, laying naked for everyone to see without her infamous self unloading boom. Though I can't confirm it, I heard that the end section of ALGOMA PROGRESS's boom was attached to ailing fleetmate, ALGOWAY. Recycling her can be GOOD, right?  c):-))
Despite her bleak situation, wintering in Port Colborne has been a regular occurrence for the 47 year old ALGOMA PROGRESS and I've been able to snap her a couple of times locked in the ice along the harbour's east wall. There she is to the left in February 2013 and below with her original name when owned by Upper Lakes the CANADIAN PROGRESS in January 2003. Even my bil, Mark, snapped her above Bridge 21 in his wide angle photo way up near the top.
On one of her last trips in December, my Kanata friend Shaun was able to snap the proud ALGOMA PROGRESS (below) as she motored upbound on the St. Lawrence River. She was named after Canada's centennial slogan "A Century of Progress", and as the PROGRESS continues to be broken apart, piece by piece, her strong Canadian-made steel will be used to build other products, thereby allowing all kinds of Canadian companies to grow and PROGRESS. How's that for an ending? No pun intended, of course. c):-))

Still awake? Well then perhaps you'll want to check my original ALGOMA PROGRESS post or maybe the ALGOWOOD's Anyone for CSL's WHITEFISH BAY, HON. PAUL J. MARTIN or BAIE COMEAU How about the ALGOWAY, eh, or NOT c);-b

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