Happy Memorial Day from Duluth

Top, the Federal Mattawa waits in the ice to load grain. Likewise, just below her (in the picture) is the Greek owned Apollon (the officers are  Greek; the crew is from the Philippines). The Vancouverborg, below them, is getting the hell out, with a cargo of beet pulp pellets for Greenore, Ireland, a deep water port on the Irish Sea. The port is privately owned, the town has a population of 898 people (in 2002) and it is famous for whiskey with the same name. There must be animals somewhere since beet pulp pellets are normally used for animal feed,  and are not known to be an ingredient in whiskey. Click any picture to see the ice better or the Google Earth map which locates Greenore.


  1. So much ice, just incredible! It looks like there is clear water on the horizon, how far out of the harbor does the ice extend?

  2. Gord Campbell says:

    Researched it. The sugar beet pellets are used for distilling. The distiller makes a specialty liquor called a Poitín. It contains all sorts of goody ingredients, plants and Basically, its a no wheat Irish sort of whiskey but not a whiskey. There’s goin to be a new batch of the kickbutt booze this fall.

  3. Proved wrong by my own map!! Besides, i never heard of the Irish Sea. The North Sea sounded so good. Thanks for the comments; Through the wonders of the web, i will now correct my mistake and future readers will now think u r wrong and not me



  4. Why does the Irydia have to wait at anchor for a Pilot and the Apollon before she can leave?

    • Gord Campbell says:

      Casna, on most inland waterways, for reasons of safety every ship’s navigation is controlled by a person certifiably knowledgeable about that particular section of the waterway and/harbor(s). Usually the Captain and deck officers on great lakes vessels have a pilot’s certification. Ever since the piloting system was mandated on the great lakes, groundings, collisions and sinkings have dramatically been reduced.
      … In the case of salty’s like the one’s you mentioned will take on a Coast Guard qualified navigation pilot for the seaway. While usually there is ample pilots for normal season operations, this hasn’t been the normal year. Four weeks ago there was a backlog of fifty ships waiting for the ice to clear. Once that ice was no longer an impediment, the available pilots were all used up trying to clear the backlog of vessels.
      … At the moment, these pilots are rotating out to get some days off. So there simply is not enough pilots at the moment. Usually what happens is that a pilot will come up to a lakehead port, disembark and get the very next vessel headed downbound. These vessels are waiting either for a pilot coming upbound to transfer or one to come off rest days in Duluth.
      … Once the backlog of vessels is finally cleared any waiting ships will be usually waiting for either a crew change or engine parts.

      • Thanks Gord, both for the Pilot info and the beet research! I was watching the ships on cam last night and saw the schedule note. There was a lot of maneuvering, neat to watch but hard to make sense of . I noticed that once the little Pilot boat showed up things got moving.

      • Are cargo vessels equipped with SONAR or are they dependent on charts and Pilots to avoid underwater hazards?

        • Gord Campbell says:

          As a rule no. Despite the ancient technological structure human pilots with local knowledge is still the best way. And consider this. It takes time to train a proficient sonar deck officer. Even with modern computer softwares, a sonar operator relies on experience to interpret the incoming data. Since the Lion’s share of ocean going cargo vessels, travel on the high seas a sonar operator would be a colossal waste of money.

          The exceptions would be in special work. Military supply ships. Marine research ships. Arctic (Antarctic) cargo vessels (which often have a dual role of supply and research) might be equipped since the missions are often research related and the depth maps may be incomplete.

          • Great points I hadn’t thought of, thanks! I noticed in trying to find some info that some Coast Guard vessels had it.

  5. Gord Campbell says:

    Maybe a new product… High Octane Borscht. It’ll put some starch into those perogies.

  6. Steve W says:

    Based on your map it’s the Irish Sea not the North Sea.

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