Archives for March 2009

James R. Barker ‘first out’ for season

The cement carrier Alpena was the first cargo boat to go under the Lift Bridge in the 2009 shipping season. Coming in just after 3 on Monday afternoon, it was also the first boat from beyond the Soo Locks. A little more than an hour later, the James R. Barker made the turn from the St. Louis River and came up the Duluth harbor (above) with about 58,000 tons of coal for Marquette. It spent the winter layup at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior and was ready when they started to load coal around 8am on Monday morning. Now we wait for the last first of the season, the first vessel to make a full transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway System. That is usually a salt water ship but occasionally it will be a Canadian flagged boat that started in Montreal at the other end of the Seaway. Photo taken on March 30, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-31-2009

Alder out breaking ice

I had a chance to take a ride of the Alder this morning, but I had to tell them I was too busy taking pictures of them. Here, she is coming right at me with the Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. on her right and the Edwin H. Gott on her left. The McCarthy is due to depart with coal on Tuesday; the Gott may leave with iron ore pellets on Thursday.
alder ken

Alpena arrives Duluth with cement

Twelve boats spent the winter layup in the port; two of them plan to depart today; the James R. Barker with coal for Marquette, and the Lee A. Tregurtha light to Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets. A surprising late addition to the Monday schedule is the Alpena. It usually makes its first appearance here around the middle of April but will be here about noon with a cargo of cement for the Lafarge dock in Superior. The early arrival is a bit surprising since, according to the Alpena News, Lafarge is in the process of laying off 130 employees at their cement plant in Alpena, Michigan, also the home port of the Alpena. It is seen above in the Duluth ship canal in August 2006.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-30-2009

The Alpena hugs the North Shore on her way to Duluth

March 29th, 2009
MODIS data acquired by direct broadcast and processed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The season may actually begin on Monday. The Alpena became a new entry in the ‘race’ for first. She was expected around 8:30 Monday morning but may be delayed since she is taking a longer route along the North Shore. A look at the satellite image here shows why. The open water closer the shore beats the ice in the center of the Lake.
The Lee A. Tregurtha may get away from her moorings at Fraser Shipyards and go up to Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets in the middle of the day. The James R. Barker, once thought to be the first boat to move in the harbor, has slipped to third place (not that anyone but me cares), leaving sometime in the afternoon, probably later.

Indiana Harbor at left; Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. right, layup at Port Terminal. March 29, 2009


The tug Edward H. is getting ready to work

The tug Edward H. spent the winter behind the DECC. Mike Ojard and his son Patrick were down there installing some new pumps for their engines today. That’s Patrick waving to the camera. Mike’s other son, Vince, is the third member of the family partnership. They are open for business and waiting for the season to start like everybody else. They may go to Two Harbors shortly to break up the ice. That will take them by their home port of Knife River.

Back to normal, almost maybe

I have been trying to combine the web page at and the blog at for several days now. Each day, I make some progress. I hope you will be patient with me; I think the blog is very usable now; the web page may take a day or more. The blog will now be located at and will  have the schedule of arrivals and departures



No boats, little sun, not much snow and the only ice

On Sunday, March 22, 2009, the wind was blowing at 32 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. No boats, little sun, not much snow and the only ice to be seen was along the shore fronting the lineup of hotels in Canal Park, that the result of the stiff wind from the east. The temperature was 34 degrees. Maybe next Sunday the American Mariner will make it to Duluth and be the first boat under the bridge. The Alder is back after a trip to Thunder Bay to break ice. The Canadian Enterprise is there now.