Saturday 29 October 2016

Fish Tug JAMES D

Soon after watching the upbound 730' ALGOMA TRANSPORT rise up and then exit the Welland Canal's Lock 7 from our balcony at The Inn at Lock Seven on the evening of September 18th, I sent a note to fellow boat watcher and my go-to-guy for Great Lakes commercial fishing info, Shaun Vary, that though we were on our way to the blue waters of the St. Clair River, my wife Janie and I had planned to visit Port Dover the next day. Shaun said that the trawlers were pretty much finished for the year, but if we're in Port Dover by around 2 pm, I might be able to snap a boat or two coming in after their day of fishing pickerel on Long Point Bay.

Well Shaun was almost dead on the mark because soon after we arrived along the pier of the Lake Erie port at about 1 o'clock, in came the fish tugs. First in was a beauty of a boat, the 70' JAMES D. which was built by in 1957 by the master boat builder, Ralph Hurley of Port Burwell for Lionel Hurley and Jim MacDonald of Ferroclad Fishery at Mamainse Harbour on Lake Superior.

Run by Captain Jim, the JAMES D was one of the first to respond to the search call when the 729' EDMUND FITZGERALD went down during a severe storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. During her effort in the search, JAMES D recovered a lifeboat and other wreckage, and though we all know now that there were no survivors when the huge American ore carrier sank, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for the fish tug's crew when they came across the floundering lifeboat with no one on board. As pointed out by Shaun, it's easy to understand why the JAMES D is considered the most admired Great Lakes fish tug of all times.

Currently JAMES D is owned by Dave Ryerse of Port Dover's Lynn-Dover Foods and run by Eric Ryerse. Also coming in off the bay were the fish tugs COSLEY BROS and BB MILLER and the gas-well rigs tug ANDREA MARIE. Each will be featured soon in an upcoming Carlz Fish'n Ships.
Meanwhile, my last posting about the former fish tug, SLO-MOE has been very popular with over 650 page views to date from all over the world. Oh YAAA!!  c):-o I also received some wonderful comments on the Facebook group "Great Lakes Fish Tugs ( from Clancy Fuller who worked on the SLO-MOE in Kingsville in the 60's and Robert LaBlance who worked on her in the 80's for Captain Fats. I've also updated the post with a photo of the now-named SILT-PRINCE motoring out of Port Burwell. The pic was submitted by her current skipper, Ryan Dougherty and taken by SILT-PRINCE's owner, Mike Scruton. Check it our now: And thank you again Shaun Vary for your input. It was greatly appreciated as always. c):-D

Friday 14 October 2016

Former Fish Tug SLO-MOE

We came across this immaculate little beauty in Port Burwell, Ontario on Lake Erie during our 2014 "Back to Our Ol'Stomping Grounds Tour". The 112 hp and 45' SLO-MOE was originally built as a fishing tug by Russel Brothers Limited of Owen Sound in 1949. According to Shaun Vary's Notes" on the Russell Brothers of Owen Sound "Steelcraft" site: ( was originally a Kingsville fish tug... She was fished by the Moody Family, and later, Ed Siddall on Lake Huron. Ed Siddall then converted her to a workboat, and sometime in the '90's, to her present configuration as a tug. Three years after Ed died, the SLO-MOE was sold to Dave MacAdam also of Goderich in 2009 who motored down to Lake Erie for work opportunities.
While our former family dog Tanner enjoyed a good itching under his collar by my wife Janice, the going no where fast SLO-MOE continued to look as lonely as the Maytag repairman and for sale again while parked on the west wall of this cute little port. In 2015 she was sold to Mike Scruton Marine Services of Port Dover, Ontario and after 66 years of having the same name during her days fishing on Lake Huron and working as a tug, she was given another equally uninspiring name, SILT-PRINCE. Regardless of her name, the former Lake Huron fish tug continues to churn up work in the contracting trade on Lake Erie,

While on our way to the blue waters of the St. Clair River on September 19th, we decided to pop into Port Dover to snap a few fish tugs that may have been tied off in the harbour and if luck had it, perhaps get a few pics of the SLO-MOE, or rather SILT PRINCE which as I last read was now based at Port Dover. Having not seen her in the harbour, we decided to check out the inner  harbour beyond the bridge and there mostly hidden amongst the sailboat riggings and pleasure boats at the marina, was the SILT  PRINCEGotcha!!

On the other side of the Lynn River, I found her laid up with other members of Scruton Marine fleet, like SILT KING, SILT MASTER and the cute toot, LEF DOVER.
Though idle, SILT PRINCE and her fleetmates appeared to be well maintained unlike the rusting relics tied off near the old Gamble shipyard a little further upstream in the background of the photo at the bottom. Not a lot of TLC for those girls for some time now. Very sad c):-((

BTW, for more information about Port Dover, like the history of this fishing community or things to do there, check out this site: You'll be glad you did!! c):-D
Got another photo of the SILT-PRINCE (former fish tug SLO-MOE) taken by her owner, Mike Scruton. In this snap to the left, the cute little toot is motoring out of Port Burwell harbour. According to Shaun Vary, the tall post towering above the SILT-PRINCE's wheelhouse and bow is called a spud and it's used as an anchor when dredging or flushing. Ryan Dougherty, who sent me the photo and has been running her for the last two years, mentioned that the SILT-PRINCE was repowered over this past winter with a V12 '71 Detroit engine, which I'm certain came to good use when she won Port Dover's Tug Pull contest on June 25th. No stopping this girl, OH YAAA!!
Also, getting out of the way of the SILT-PRINCE in the photo, is the 62' workboat SILT-MASTER which started out as the fish tug IRENE LLOYD and then later in life, the LORI B. Last night, while looking through my Port Maitland snaps, I found a pic of the LORI B locked in the ice there in February 2009. That photo and her story will be featured soon in an upcoming Carlz Fish'n Ships. Sorry, you'll just have to wait for it with a baited breath. Oooo, that was bad!! Sorry, NOT!! c):-D