Tuesday 31 May 2016

Final Voyage (1): Self Unloader ALGOMARINE

Having had her masonry restored and trim given a fresh coat of red paint during our mild winter, the built in 1838 historic windmill and former lighthouse stands proudly along the St. Lawrence near Prescott, Ontario while the also proud but not so pretty looking, Algoma self unloader ALGOMARINE, motored downbound on her final voyage in the background of my above snap on April 27.  Unlike so many of her predecessors which made their last journey towed at the end of a line behind a tug, or riding high in ballast, the 730' classic laker was dying with dignity, "working" like she had done for 48 years.

Laden with salt that had been mined deep beneath Lake Huron,  the grand ol'gal, ALGOMARINE left Goderich under her own power on April 25, and before arriving at her final destination of Montreal, discharges of her precious cargo were planned for Johnstown, Ontario, and in Quebec at Valleyfield and Cote Ste. Catherine. It was a passage that no boat watcher wanted to miss and to all of you who shared so many wonderful photos on various Facebook boat groups during her transit from Goderich, along the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, Welland Canal, upper St. Lawrence River and Seaway, and to her final arrival in Montreal, I just want to say "Thank You". I'm certain any of her crew who may have been following your posts appreciated your photos too.   

Unfortunately my day job prevented me from getting down to Johnstown to see her discharge her partial load of road salt, however I did get to snap her expertly navigate the various buoys between Battle of the Windmill Park and Cardinal, and when I captured her sliding beneath the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, I couldn't help but remember when I snapped another classic laker and fleetmate ALGOMA MONTREALAIS nearly in the same spot while she too was motoring to Montreal for her final voyage on July 24, 2014.

When built in 1968 at the Davie Shipyards in Lauzon, Quebec her name was LAKE MANITOBA and owned by Nipigon Transport of Montreal. Back then she was a typical classic 'straightdecker' just like her future fleetmate ALGOMA MONTREALAIS and like so many Great Lakes bulk carriers, she was active in the Canadian prairie grain trade eastward and then more often returned upbound with a load of iron ore. When Algoma Central purchased Nipigon Transport in 1987, the straightdecker's name was changed to ALGOMARINE and two years later, she was converted into a self unloader at Port Weller Dry Docks.
She had a bold look about her when I first snapped ALGOMARINE as she almost motionlessly approached Lock 1 on October 10, 2013. Just like during her early years, she continued to haul grain, and iron ore, but it was more likely the ongoing delivery of salt to so many communities throughout the Great Lakes during her 29 years as a self unloader that gave her, her tired and aging look during her last trip and back during my Port Weller rendezvous (http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/10/self-unloader-algomarine.html) almost two years ago.

Cargo delivered and riding high in the water, ALGOMARINE arrived for the last time under her own power at Montreal  on April 30th. Within days her Algoma colours and "Bear" emblem on her stack and bow were blackened, along with every letter except "MARI" which became her new name. While the deep-sea tug DIAVLOS PRIDE lead her scrap-tow MARI out of Montreal on May 18th destined for the Aliaga, Turkey, last voyages to the scrapyards also got underway for two more Algoma boat watcher's favourites, the self unloader PETER R. CRESSWELL and tanker ALGOSAR. 
But that's another story...(to be continued).

Saturday 14 May 2016

River Meet (3) Bulk Carrier TECUMSEH (Revisited)

So we meet again TECUMSEH. As a ship, she's a proud survivor and like the downbound she is about to meet, the 641' bulk carrier is named after a hero who was instrumental in keeping Canada "Strong and Free". In Shawnee, TECUMSEH means "Shooting Star" or "Panther Across The Sky" but when I snapped her early last month, she looked like a formidable gray lipazzan galloping all out towards an upcoming encounter upstream near "Galop" Island.
I first met this gray lady almost two years ago while she transited Iroquois Lock (http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2014/08/bulk-carrier-tecumseh.html) and though she looks like so many new-build lakers that we see today with her accommodation section and wheelhouse aft, the built in 1973 dry bulk carrier was named SUGAR ISLANDER and spent most of her early operating years as a saltie hauling sugar from Hawaii to California. She has primarily been operating on the fresh water seas of the Great Lakes since being purchased by Lower Lakes Towing of Port Dover in 2011 while named TECUMSEH after the First Nation's Chief who played a major role in Canada's successful repulsion of an American invasion in the War of 1812.
This visit along the river was turning out to look a lot like being in "Boat-watching Heaven"; first to snap a sail past by the new FEDERAL CARIBOU, then a meet of the CARIBOU and the Wagenborg multipurpose dry bulk carrier FRASERBORG across from Prescott, and now while parked near the Ingredion starch plant in Cardinal, I was about to capture my second ship meet in one day. COOL!! c):-D However it's not like it hasn't happened before, in fact during one river visit, I captured three meets in a matter of minutes. Now that was REALLY COOL, but at this meet something different was happening....
 ...as the older gray bulker continued to push water upbound at a good clip, the downbound FRASERBORG appeared to be crossing the TECUMSEH's bow. Oh NO!! Was a collision imminent??
Hey, I'm no expert and nor have I helmed any size of motorized  vessel in many years but everything I've read and witnessed while watching boats pass or meet along the narrow shipping channels of the Welland Canal, St. Lawrence River and Seaway, is when two ships are approaching head-on, both should alter their course to the starboard (or right) so that both ships will pass "Port-to-Port" or on each ship's left side.
I have to admit when first I saw the 730' Lower Lakes Towing's bulk carrier KAMINISTIQUA turn hard to port while we were picnicking at Loyalist Park near Mariatown on May 19, 2013,  I thought for certain she was going to ram the CSL self unloader RT. HON. PAUL E. MARTIN amidships. c):-o  But then soon after the 740' MARTIN also started to turn to the port as seen in this series of photos (here and below), so both big bulkers were simply preparing for a proper "Port-to-Port" sail past.

Both skippers and crews certainly had their work cut out for them when meeting at this location because even though the channel here is quite wide, meeting ships must navigate around the many shoals that were created when the river valley was flooded for the St. Lawrence Seaway opening in 1959, so each ship must follow the flow or channel of the original St. Lawrence River where it's deepest. A complicated process for mariners but a very exciting view for boat watchers and picnickers alike.
It was pretty "easy-peasy" a little later for the RT. HON. PAUL E. MARTIN when she met another Lower Lakes bulker, the 608' MANITOBA across from Ron Beaupre's boat dock in Mariatown.

Ditto that for the downboud 610' HELOISE (now named CAPE) when she met the 729' ALGOMA SPIRIT above Prescott on December 9, 2012...
...and the 481' tanker SHAMROCK JUPITER moment later...
...and another tanker, the 481' NORTH CONTENDER above Cardinal.
According to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (and narrow channels), no vessel ever has "Right of Way" over other vessels. Two power-driven vessels meeting each other head-on (meaning seeing the other vessels masthead and running lights in line with each other) both vessels are required to alter course to the starboard   so that they pass on their port side and avoid colliding with each other. As the saying goes:

"If you see three lights ahead, starboard wheel and show your red"

If one of the two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way and avoid crossing ahead of her. The saying is

"If to starboard red appears, 'tis your duty to keep clear"...
"Act as judgement says is proper: port or starboard, back or stop her"

That can be easier said than done because if there's no room, time to turn or stop the heavy ship, a catastrophic collision could occur.

Such was the case on July 30th, 1962 when after leaving her berth in Detroit, the 450' British bulk carrier MONTROSE crossed in front of the downbound tug & barge, B.H. BECKER & ABL 502 while attempting to veer across the Detroit River to enter the upbound channel.
Photo from Ten More Tales of the Great Lakes by Skip Gillham.
The barge, hauling 1,600 tons of cement clinker out of Port Huron, tore a 48' hole the port side of the less than two years old MONTROSE. Taking on water immediately and caught in the Detroit River's strong current, the crippled MONTROSE was pushed downstream until she ran aground and rolled over onto her starboard side beneath the Ambassador Bridge. Fortunately no souls were lost, and though the MONTROSE was eventually raised and then repaired over that winter in Lorain, Ohio, when she got underway, her name was changed to CONCORDIA LAGO and she never sailed on the Great Lakes again.

As it turned out no collision occurred between the TECUMSEH and FRASERBORG during my river meet. As one might normally expect, there was no need to hastily drop anchors, blast their horns loudly or make evasive maneuvering to avoid each other, because according to a comment I received from local Marc Beach, it's a common practice at this location for the downbound vessel (or the FRASERBORG in this case) to cross over to the other side of the channel so that she can stay close to the Canadian shoreline and Toussaint Island (in the distance in the top photo) before turning into Iroquois Lock. Makes sense to me, and thanks for the input Marc!!

Meanwhile, the FRASERBORG has since discharged her load of grain in Greenore, Ireland and is currently underway in the Baltic on her way to Oxelosund, Sweden. As for the TECUMSEH, this versatile bulker made at least two transits along this section of the Seaway and continues to prove to her owner and boat-watchers everywhere that "this old grey mare remains exactly what she used to be and then some. What more can you ask for of a proud ship and her crew? c):-D  

UPDATE -May 14, 2020:

Yes, the former Hawaiian sugar carrier has continued being of value on the Great Lakes until an engine room fire crippled her in the middle of the Detroit River last December. Completely lost of power, the TECUMSEH dropped both anchors to avoid grounding and was eventually towed to Windsor where she wintered. Early last month McKeil Marine tugs LEONARD M. and JARRETT M. towed her to Ashtabula, Ohio where repairs to her engine continues. We all hope she returns to work soon.
The TECUMSEH also appeared to be having a challenging day with St. Lawrence River current when I caught her last, on May 7, 2017. No need to drop anchor that time, but an interesting story that will have to be told sometime soon.

Sunday 1 May 2016

The Last Corvette HMCS SACKVILLE (K181) - Revisted

Photo by Rick Pancham - August 2016
Today, the first Sunday in May marks the anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic which was the longest, largest and most complex naval battle in history. It was also one of the most important campaigns of the Second World War lasting from the first day of the war in 1939 until the war ended in Europe on May 8, 1945. Moored proudly in her wartime camouflaged colours sits the 205' Flower-class corvette Her Majesty's Canadian Ship SACKVILLE (K181) which is the only one of 269 allied corvettes from the Second World War that remains and since 1988 has been a museum ship and a National Historic Site of Canada in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Commissioned in 1941, HMCS SACKVILLE was one of 123 corvettes specially designed for convoy escorts that were built during WWII in Britain and at Canadian Great Lakes shipyards in Port Arthur, Midland, Collingwood, and Kingston; along the St. Lawrence at Montreal, Sorel, Quebec City, and Lauzon; and coastal yards in Victoria, Vancouver and like the SACKVILLE, at the Saint John Drydocks and Shipbuilding in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Photo by Shaun Judge - July 2015
While all of Britain's were named after "Flowers", hence the name of the class, Canada's Flowers-class and Castle-class corvettes were named after Canadian cities and communities like ALGOMA, BARRIE, CAMROSE, COLLINGWOOD, DAUPHIN, GALT, KAMLOOPS, NAPANEE, SUDBURY, OWEN SOUND, HUMBERSTONE and PRESCOTT, just to name a few. The outcome of the war was dependant on the success of the Atlantic convoys, on merchant ships reaching Britain. Canada only had 38 ocean-going vessels when the war broke out in 1939, so many Great Lakes ships or "canallers", about the size of my Dad's BIRCHTON (there rolling in the "unescorted" seas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence), suddenly became ocean-going vessels desperately needed for trans-Atlantic convoy duty.
During the six year campaign more than 70 Canadian merchant vessels and 14 RCN warships were lost along with approximately 3,600 souls. However, thanks to the gallant and courageous efforts of our RCN sailors and merchant mariners, more than 25,000 merchant ships safely made it to their destinations under Canadian and allied escort delivering approximately 165 million tons of vitally-needed supplies to Europe.

We have a lot to be thankful for today. Lest We Forget. 
Photo by Linda Noseworthy Bell - 2016