Monday 30 January 2017


Along West Street's Port Promenade - November 19, 2015
Along West Street's Port Promenade - July 2, 2016
Hey, we just got back from Cuba where it was hot☀️, Hot🌞, HOT 😎 unlike here in the Great White North where it's not🌬, Not🌨, NOT anywhere near hot especially this morning waking up to -17 Celsius with a chill 💨 factor of -24. Brrrr😬. When not playing with my grandsons, I was busy getting the laundry done, and shovelling SNOW ❄️😳❄️. It is what it is. So since I haven't published a boat story in a while, here's short post about a cute little boat that has caught my eye more than once when visiting Port Colborne, and a quick background about her interesting names or lack there of.
When she was built in 1943, she was given the name KOLBE, after her owner, W.F Kolbe of Port Dover, Ontario. Along with shipbuilding, W. F. Kolbe and Company which had expanded to Port Dover from Erie, Pennsylvania near the turn of the 20th century had a large fish and poultry processing plant located on the banks of the Lynn River and was the community's largest employer from 1908 to 1992. The 63' KOLBE was one of 11 fish tugs in the W.F. Kolbe fleet, which was one of largest on the Great Lakes during its day. According to the SOS-'Save Ontario Shipwrecks' Spring 1995 newsletter, one of Fred Kolbe's sons, Robert, was very inventive and was issued a patent for freezing equipment which was wildely used in the Great Lakes commercial fishing industry. Cool 😁 eh!! The KOLBE continued to fish for the family business until 1951 when she was sold to Bill Siddall of Port Maitland. Apparently she was a pretty noisy boat according to an article written by Bill Warnick in The Dunnville Chronicle on October 10, 2001, where Bill says that when her engine was started at 5:30 a.m., "it seemed to rattle every weld in her and signalled that it was time for the residents of Port (Maitland) to awaken". Bill went on to say that in 1984 "the KOLBE was traded-in to John Van Halteren (owner of Dovercraft Marine in Port Dover) in partial payment to have John build the G.W. SIDDALL. Like the former fish tug EDITH GAULTIER ( the KOLBE became a tender for a Toronto dive school and renamed LOIS T.
Nice one 📷 Jeff!! Wish I had a boat 🚤
Soon after she was sold to Nadro Marine, also of Port Dover and converted into a tugboat. Oh WOW, LOIS "T" sure looked pretty sharp in her Nadro black/red & white colours in this pic Jeff Cameron of St. Catharines caught of her on Lake Ontario in his boat approaching Port Weller on July 7, 2000.     
Taken from his boat, again, Jeff Cameron caught her tied off to former RCN tug RIVERTON waiting to be dismantled at Marine Recycling Corp.'s ship scrapyard in Port Colborne on August 17, 2015
With her hull still in Nadro colours, the name CHARLIE E
can clearly be seen in this Jeff Cameron pic (not from his boat) 
on January 19,2003. What's with all the snow & ice in Port Colborne, eh! 
Her name was changed to CHARLIE E. when she was sold to International Marine Salvage Inc. in 2002 and ever since, the small tug is used to berth or move various obsolete vessels at their recycling facility at the southern entrance to the Welland Canal in Port Colborne and their previous location at Port Maitland. Though always looking well maintained in any of the pics I've taken of her over the years, for whatever reason her owner has decided to the keep this beauty's identity virtually unknown. While most all other commercial and sometimes pleasure boats that I've snapped proudly has the vessel's name boldly displayed at the bow or at least above the port of registry at her stern, the only place I saw CHARLIE E.'s name was on a small plate above the hatchway door to the her wheelhouse.

Naming a ship is required for identifying and communicating with other ships while in transit, but I've seen nothing written in stone or in marine paint for that matter that indicates where the ship's name should be displayed on a boat.

Why the low profile identity for this environmental-friendly "green" hulled workhorse with a such a prestigious past is beyond me. Like I'm sure most boat watcher's would agree, it truly is odd looking but I guess it simply is what it is.
Tied of to former CCGS VERENDRYE and harbour tug TECHNO ST. LAURENT in this series of photos
- October 9, 2013
If any of my Great Lakes Fish Tug group friends has additional info about the nameless CHARLIE E. or photos of her when she was the KOLBE or LOIS T., please pass them my way so that I can update this post. I'll credit you, of course. And, if you're getting tired of counting snowflakes or laying rock salt on your laneways this winter, here's a couple links to some interesting articles that I found while researching CHARLIE E.
Capt. Gerry Ouderkirk's article about Robert Kolbe's fish tug, the ROBERT K.
And, Bill Warnick's piece and other articles in the Winter 2014 issue of The Grand Dispatch:
Enjoy!! 😊
BTW, to view thousands of Great Lakes ship photos both modern and vintage, be sure to checkout or for photos of ships from elsewhere around the world. You'll be Glad You Did!!

Sunday 8 January 2017

Self Unloader ALGOSOO (Last Voyage)

February 20, 2016
Winter is here!! Both on paper and very much visible as many of my FaceBook friends will testify who may from time to time check out another one of my time well wasted features, this one known as Carlz Back Deck SnowCam*. Yes, whether it was just a dusting like our first snowfall this year on October 27th (to the right), or a whomping 34 cm of the white stuff that had fallen to date in the December 22 pic (below), you can spend as much time as you wish checking out how much snow has accumulated around my empty Molson Canadian beer bottle with a Canada 🇨🇦flag in it or my sometimes working solar-powered lighthouse. Do remember though, as per the (*) next to SnowCam*, it's just a picture. No, you don't want to be like one friend who said, "Carl, I've been looking at your snow-cam all day and nothing has moved!". Well, as I said to her, that's because like it says in the album's description, it's just a SNAPSHOT - NOT A LIVE CAMERA, okay?. Yes, she was pretty embarrassed and no, I'm not going mention her hair colour. But you probably guessed it. c):-()
Yes, winter in the Great White North can be such a blast especially when that "Polar Vortex" thing comes over the top from Russia 🇷🇺 dropping already frigid conditions to temperature readings that whether you call it -40 Celsius or -40 Fahrenheit, it's the same thing, TOO DARN COLD!! 😬
Combine all of the above with my doctor telling me the that my ongoing lower back pain is most likely caused by "DDD or Degenerative Disc Disorder", which apparently is just a normal change that will happen to us all as we AGE. c):-(( Hopefully whenever I get my MRI it will offer a better explanation but regardless it sure "SUCKS" when you start getting old, or entering the "winter" of your life.

February 20, 2016
Meanwhile, back at the boat blog, a little more than a year ago on December 30th, the 730'  ALGOSOO had made her way off Lake Ontario and positioned herself lakeward at Pier 35 in Toronto. Unlike she had done just over 40 years earlier when the spanking new Algoma Central self unloader delivered a record cargo of 26,351 metric tonnes of salt from Goderich, Ontario to Toronto, the big lady was about to start her 41st winter layup. While other Algoma fleetmates have been known to continue to haul road salt to U.S. harbours on lakes Michigan and Huron deep into January, a December 30th layup might have offered some crew mates the opportunity to bring in the new year at home with family or perhaps get an early start to a much appreciated vacation to a sun destination in the Dominican or Cuba. It had been a long season and while repairs to their "home away from home" would be completed by contractors during winter layup, their focus then would be directed at enjoying time with their family and friends, and thoughts of returning to ship life on the ALGOSOO would be in the back of minds for a good couple of months.

February 20, 2016
February 20, 2016
When the built at Collingwood Shipyard ALGOSOO went into service in December 1974, she would be the last traditional style straight-deck laker to be built on the Great Lakes with a pilothouse up forward at her bow. She had served her company well over the years but obviously she too had entered the winter of he life   because due to poor earnings resulting from stiff competition and declines in salt, grain and ore shipments, Algoma Central had other plans for the stern mounted self unloader as the ALGOSOO and five other dry bulk carriers including a  product tanker would be retired and dismantled in the  upcoming months.

February 20, 2016
Also doomed for disposal and wintering in Toronto at the Port Lands Channel was the 730' ALGOSTEEL ( - February 20, 2016 
April 24, 2016
The day after I snapped the ALGOSOO sitting high in a now iceless Toronto harbour on April  24th, the New Orleans-like "Funeral Parade for other marked for disposal fleetmates began first with the ALGOMARINE departing Goderich under her own power and laden with road salt destined for the St. Lawrence river or Seaway ports of Johnstown, Ontario, and Valleyfield and Cote Ste-Catherine in Quebec during  her working final voyage to Montreal   (  After a long Atlantic and Mediterranean crossing, the then scrap-tow MARI arrived for dismantling at Aliaga, Turkey, just a few days after the NAVI, previously known as ALGOMA NAVIGATOR ( Then as if being played out like a planned mass execution scene from the movie, "The Godfather", the doomed oil and chemical tanker ALGOSAR  ( proudly motored upbound on the Welland Canal to her final destination at the International Marine Salvage (IMS) scrapyard in Port Colborne, while the self unloader PETER R. CRESSWELL ( limped her way downbound on one engine along the Welland Canal and Seaway to her rendezvous with the Turkey-bound scrap-tow tugs, all on the same day as the MARI was being towed out of Montreal. Coincidence, or WHAT? 😁
Hey, Budda Bing, Budda Bang!! Four down and the remain two continued their long term layup in the big smoke only now the 730' SPRUCEGLEN sat lashed off to the ALGOSOO for any undetermined stay due a lack of dry goods to carry.
That all changed for her and the other CSL gearless bulk carriers laid up in Montreal, and Thunder Bay as a bumper crop of prairie grain was announced and they all quickly got underway in late August in a big rush to move the surplus wheat and granola to St. Lawrence River elevators for pick up by salties to overseas markets. Also, the word got out that the upcoming winter was going to be a snowy one, and that additional supplies of road salt would need to be distributed to lake and river ports as soon as possible. To get the job done, not only was the idle in Sarnia ALGORAIL put back into service in mid September, but on August 26th, the waiting for dismantling, ALGOSTEEL got underway and remains active recently delivering salt to the Lake Michigan ports of Milwaukee and South Chicago.
June 4, 2016 
Arriving at Port Colborne. Photo by Nathan Attard

 Photo by Nathan Attard
Eventually ALGOSOO got underway too on October 2nd, though not to haul salt or iron ore like she was designed to do but instead to make the short passage across Lake Ontario to Port Weller and then the slow step by step climb up to the top of the Niagara Escarpment during her last voyage through every Welland Canal lock for last time, before arriving at her  final resting place  at the IMS scrapping dock in Port Colborne. Within days of her arrival, yard crews were seen by Nathan to be painting over her port of registry and namesake, Sault Ste. Marie, on her stern, and the Algoma brand "bear" logo on her stack. Over the years ALGOSOO was no stranger to Port Colborne. On April 5, 1982 she passed through Port Colborne's Lock 8 to be the first downbound laker of the new shipping season. During Port Colborne's 1999 Canal Days, the ALGOSOO sat proudly and open public tours as part of Algoma Central 100th Anniversary at a dock almost opposite to where she is being dismantled today.

Photo by Nathan Attard - October 14, 2016
Though blamed for a conveyor belt fire that also gutted the stern accommodation section of the ALGOSOO while laid up for winter in Port Colborne in March of 1986, you can see that there's currently been no stopping to the welder's torch as this last great classic laker to be built on the Great Lakes quickly becomes nothing more than a memory as seen in this series of photos taken by James Cameron and Nikki Thornton.  
Photo by Jeff Cameron - October 19, 2016

Photo by Jeff Cameron - November 6, 2016

Photo by Jeff Cameron - November 6, 2016

Photo by Jeff Cameron - November 13, 2016

Photo by Jeff Cameron - November 13, 2016

Photo by Jeff Cameron - November 13, 2016

Photo by Nikki Thornton - December 25, 2016
Photo by Shaun Vary - October 2016
Though Shaun Vary said his taken directly into the sun photo was not a great shot as his Lower Lakes Towing self unloader SAGINAW passed her by in October, I know it was a difficult one for him because the ALGOSOO was his first boat. At some point in his life Shaun left the SOO and went on to bigger and better things. It was his choice. For the past few years we're seeing Canadian shipowners replacing their aging fleet with state of the art and more fuel efficient vessels to remain competitive. It's a matter of survival. Though we all feel bad that another beauty is being dismantled abroad or on the lakes, at least the steel is being recycled. A greater concern maybe of what happens to the 20 or so crew members who are force out of work because their boat which as been there "home away from home" for extended periods of time is being scrapped. Al least 100 men and women sailors found themselves displaced from former Algoma ships alone last year. Until the new-builds arrive next season or later, perhaps some will find work by being recycled or rather, "rotated" on other Algoma ships or with other fleets. To make ends meets some may become short order cooks at a local dinner or McD's while others maybe entering "the winter of their life" and perhaps retiring to a beach in Florida or skipping a fish tug on Lake Erie may makes better sense when the axe falls. What will be, will be.

On a lighter note,
Happy 😊 New Year!!
Hey,  I don't know what it's like where you live but up here in the "Great White North" winter has returned big time. With the lack of snow that we received last year thanks señor El Niño, his distant cousin,  señora La Niña has returned the white stuff ❄️  ❄️ ❄️ threefold which has made for some great picturesque photo ops but very treacherous driving conditions for my current line of work as a transit bus 🚍 operator in Ottawa 🇨🇦 . I know, "What will be, will be". However, due to many ongoing yard work projects last spring, summer and fall, I wasn't able to blog as often or make it down to the River or Seaway to take my snaps so I really appreciate being able to use photos from other boat watchers like Nathan Attard, Jeff Cameron, Ted Wilush, Nikki Thornton, Brenda Benoit, and Joanne Crack. Along with their great photos I really appreciate the ongoing technical knowledge and life experiences from Ron Beaupre and Shaun Vary. Once again, Thanks and All The Best Wishes to You and My Readers in 2017. 😊 Carl Burkett