Tuesday 30 August 2016

Gearless Bulk Carrier FLORENCE SPIRIT

Oh look at that girl go, kicking a whitewater wake beyond her  bulbous bow as she motors upbound near the North Channel entrance to the old Galop Canal and the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge ahead. When I snapped this two toned green-hulled beauty on June 19th, her name was ARKLOW WILLOW, and though she's deemed a gearless "Handy" bulk carrier, she looked awfully "Randy" that day as soon after the recent McKeil Marine acquisition arrived at her new homeport of Hamilton, Ontario, her name would be changed to FLORENCE SPIRIT and a new career operating on the Great Lakes and Atlantic Canada coastline would begin. Actually, I'm not 100% certain she made it to Hamilton on this trip, but instead motored directly to Clarkson on Lake Ontario to pick up a load of cement for Newfoundland. It's just another niche service that the innovative McKeil Marine is now providing for their customers.

Founder's namesake, the 110.5' harbour and coastal tug, EVANS MCKEIL.
Photo by Shaun Judge. 
Well, actually McKeil has been providing creative solutions even before the company was started over 60 years. In 1955, company founder, Evans McKeil observed while working as a labourer on a dredging platform on the still under construction St. Lawrence Seaway that more boats were needed to transport workers to various job sites on the river. In a rented barn in Ancaster, Ontario, Evans and his father, William built a 35' workboat which was named MICMAC. Launched in 1956, Evans McKeil motored his new boat to Valleyfield, Quebec, where she was used to transport supplies and workers to the dredges until the Seaway construction was completed in 1959. An amazing and classic example of "Turning a Problem into an Opportunity". c):-D

EVANS MCKEIL with 23 tonne bollard pull leads downdown scrap-tow AMERICAN FORTITUDE while....

...96' fleetmate JARRETT M provided steerage duties. 
Photos by Shaun Judge.
Today, with a fleet of 24 tugs and workboats, and 31 barges, Hamilton based McKeil has specialized in marine transportation, construction, project cargo, salvage, towing and assistance throughout the Great Lakes.

 Shallow draft flat deck barges like the LAMBERT SPIRIT (being pushed by the 110' SALVOR) have Roll On/Roll capabilities for easy loading and discharging of dry bulk cargoes.
Photo by Brenda Benoit
For many Great Lakes fleets, this shipping season has been a very disappointing with many of their carriers still waiting to get underway for the first time while others have been tied up indefinitely due to lack of cargo or for scrap metal prices to increase  so that they can be towed overseas or to Port Colborne's International Marine Salvage for recycling. Meanwhile's McKeil's outlook continues to be improve first with last fall's acquisition of the 492' dry bulk carrier SPAVALDA. Able to carry 40% more cargo while 50% faster, the renamed EVANS SPIRIT, continues to be used to haul aluminum ingots from Sept-Iles, Quebec to Oswego New York along with McKeil's flatdeck barge and tug combos like the ALOUETTE SPIRIT and WILF SEYMOUR to other Great Lakes destinations.
Downbound EVANS SPIRIT, also named for founder Evans McKeil at Summertown, Ontario, July 13, 2016
Photo by Brenda Benoit 

Photo by Clarence Vautier

Photo by Clarence Vautier
Though MarineTraffic still has her listed as the ARKLOW WILLOW, the new McKeil bulker was proudly showing of FLORENCE SPIRIT at her bow and stern when Captain Clarence Vautier Jr. captured her anchored in Conception Bay, NL on July 27th. Named after Evans' wife, FLORENCE is current tied off at Conception Bay South terminal dock on Long Pond. Built at the Kyokuyo Shipbuilding and Iron Works in Shimonoseki, Japan for Arklow Shipping of Wicklow, Ireland in 2004, the 447.5' FLORENCE SPIRIT is capable of carrying  13,500 metric tonnes in her 4 cargo hold. Though she's equipped with cement loading ports,  FLORENCE SPIRIT  can carry any dry cargo such as grain.

Photo by René Beauchamp
Photo by René Beauchamp
While making her way upbound toward the Seaway's first lock at St. Lambert, René Beauchamp captured these drone-like photos of the FLORENCE  on July 31st, from the Jacques-Cartier Bridge which links the City and Island of Montreal to the South Shore at Longueuil. As also seen in Clarence's snaps, McKeil's blue and green colour bans have been painted around her superstructure, accenting not seen in my snaps up top. While, her stack has been painted black, the company's white stallion logo still needs to be added along with the bold "MCKEIL" banner which will stretch amidships on a black hull. Window dressing activities that will just have wait until quite times arrive. Meanwhile it's "Giddy-up and Go FLO!!" while the getting is good!!
Photo by René Beauchamp
Thanks for the great photos Clarence, René, Shaun and Brenda. I appreciate your being there to capture and then share them with my readers all over the world. c):-D


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  2. Awesome stories!!! You work hard with all the research and these stories are so great for us all to read!
    Brenda - Summerstown Lookout -Find us on Facebook