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Making up for lost time

May 22, 2014 · 5 comments

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Above, the Iryda came into port this morning (May 22, 2014) to load grain at CHS.
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Above, the BBC Celina arrived under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on May 21st to load grain at the CHS 1 grain elevator in Superior. The Apollon can be seen at anchor waiting to come in to load at the same terminal. Below, assisted by 2 Great Lakes Towing tugs, the BBC Celina moved up the harbor on her way to CHS 1.
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Below, the Indiana Harbor departed last night with 66,000 tons of coal she loaded at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. She is taking the coal to the Detroit Edison power plant in St. Clair, Michigan. It has been a while, I think, since a boat has departed here with that much coal. Usually, as last year, the largest cargo of coal was 64,000 tons. The additional cargo  no doubt reflects the higher water levels on the Great Lakes, which allow boats to carry more cargo. If some of the higher water is the result of the snow and ice that has been melting on the lakes and/or the decrease in water evaporation caused by the snow and ice, it is ironic that the same snow and ice that delayed the full start of the season by a month or more, is now allowing boats to carry more cargo, and helping make up some of the early season loss.
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It was Wednesday night when the Indiana Harbor departed and it was the first Wednesday of the season for the sailboat races.  With ice still out in the lake, they stayed in the harbor and seemed to spend a lot of time around the Vancouverborg, at anchor in the inner harbor waiting to load grain at the Peavey elevator. She is now at Peavey and the Elbeborg, not seen here, has taken her place at the inner anchorage. She is also waiting to load grain.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed M. May 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Hi Folks — The ELBEBORG had a hatch crane failure last night and she could not sail after finishing at Gavillon. There were three hatches that were left to put into place, when one of the crane’s rollers gave up the ghost. It’s what the call a ‘Traversing Type’ hatch crane, which rolls the length of the vessel on two rails, lifting, shifting and placing the 2 – 4 ton hatch covers in their respective seats. A crew from Northern Engineering / Fraser Shipyards are on board assisting with the repairs and should be finished tonight and she’ll sail then. The APOLLON and the FEDERAL MATTAWA are waiting for Cenex Harvest States #1, probably after the Polish IRYDA finishes tomorrow.

The back up, waiting for a grain berth, is usually due to a lack of official paperwork or the vessel’s holds not passing the state grain inspector’s & National Cargo Bureau’s inspection. The holds have to be very clean to be approved to carry ‘Food Grade Cargo’, as they term it — they have to be, literally, almost clean enough to eat off of.

Lately tho, this spring, one of the big hold ups has been the transport of the grain. Grain railroad cars are always in high demand and sometimes a little scarce. Also contributing to the normal flow of wheat, soybeans, canola, beet pellets and other agricultural products is the oil boom out west and in North Dakota. CN & BNSF management get considerably more revenue per car for oil transport, than grain, machinery, lumber or anything else they haul. So, Mr. Warren Buffett (Owns BNSF, I believe), as much as he might rail (no pun intended) about ‘Global Warming’ & ‘Fossil Fuels’ — they’ll drop what their doing in an Omaha Minute — to haul crude oil at jacked up rates. Isn’t business fun?

Incidentally, in the 20+ years I’ve been working on the waterfront, I have never seen lingering ice like this. On a Pilot Run the other day, we were manuvering in between ice chunks that were 12 – 20 feet across and well over 15 feet in depth — a couple feet above water and a dozen under water. They were actually mini-icebergs. Now I know what it’s like running a boat near the Arctic Circle! :)

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Jill in Alabama May 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Ed, is this you? We’ve missed you! Thanks for the great info!

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MN_Jack76 May 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Thanks for the info Ed! Very interesting. If you were on the Sea Bear I watched you dodge that ice.

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kelly May 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

the apollon seems to be an orphan with all that wait time. Whats the deal? who gets in line and how?

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Rita from Georgia May 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Glad to see shipping season in Duluth. In the picture of Iryda, is that the Meteor and the J.A.W. Inglehart in the background? I am used to seeing them from the road headed to the bridge and taking fast glances their way as I am driving. At this point in the drive I am thinking of seeing the Edward L. Ryerson. Good to have a different view. Thanks.

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