Algoma Olympic departs at dusk


  1. Let’s look at lake levels compared to this time a year ago:

    Lake Superior is 10 inches higher.
    Michigan/Huron is 22 inches higher.
    Lakes St. Clair is 8 inches higher.
    Erie is 16 inches higher.
    Lake Ontario is 2 inches lower.

    This explains why bulk commodities like limestone and iron ore are up. Indiana had severe problems last year with port depth. With 22″ more depth this year, there would be more tonnage even with the same number of ships. The same would be true of clearance depth through the Soo Locks and Rock Cut. And, I’m sure the extra depth has helped Toledo and Cleveland. It is surprising that Ontario is lower considering that the extra water from the other lakes flows into Ontario. However, I suppose that lake would be the least sensitive to depth since the largest freighters don’t pass through the Welland Canal.

    Lakes Superior and Michigan/Huron are predicted to drop 2 inches over the next 30 days.
    Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are predicted to fall 3-4 inches.

    This of course will mean slightly less tonnage of bulk cargo as we go later in the season. I guess we have November, December, and some of January remaining before the Soo Locks close again.

  2. Coincidentally, today was my birthday. I watched the documentary on Paul R Tregurtha from 2008. They said they broke seven ribs along the hull from the ice. And, it’s difficult to imagine going through the rock cut with only 18 inches of bottom clearance. It was also interesting to see the deckhands swing down from the ship to handle the lines at the Poe Lock while the ship was still moving. I guess Dayton is still captain. Season 1, Episode 5 of Mighty Ships on the Smithsonian channel.

    According to the United States Great Lakes Shipping Association: Through September, the Seaway system is reported to have handled 24 million metric tons of cargo, an increase of about 5 percent over the same period during 2013. Shipments of U.S. grain were reported to be up about 14.6 percent over the same period in2013. So, shipping is going well.

    The US economy is also doing better. It shrank 2.1% during the first quarter of 2014. And, I think that was probably related to the constrained shipping due to low water levels and the early close of the season in 2013. Consumer confidence is the highest it’s been since 2007. We are now hiring more new employees than we have at any time since 2000. Jobless claims are at a 14 year low. The number of people on Food Stamps has continued to drop all during 2014. Manufacturing is up. This is pretty remarkable considering that manufacturing had steadily declined from 2001 to 2010. The fact that Food Stamps peaked in 2013 is a good sign but this figure tends to lag some. A more immediate indicator is the price of gold. It is always the case that in times of disaster or economic problems, the price of gold rises. Gold hit a peak in September 2011 at $1,900 an ounce. The price today is about $1,200 an ounce. That’s a decline of 37% (which is a good sign). Private sector jobs had stabilized by April 2010 but total jobs didn’t stabilize until October 2010. So, we can see that the price of gold lagged about one year and Food Stamps lagged about two years. But, let’s look at some more shipping.

    Cleveland was up 23% through June compared to 2013.

    Duluth was up 17% on coal and 48% on iron ore through June compared to 2013.
    Superior was up 7.8% on coal as of September.

    Burns Harbor in Indiana was up 40% through June compared to 2013. The breakdown on this was: steel (up 130%), grain (up 70%), limestone (up 25%), and minerals (up 20%).

    Toledo is up compared to 2013 but I don’t have specific numbers for June. As of September, coal shipments were up 33%.

    Oswego thinks they’ll handle a record 100,000 metric tons of aluminum in 2014.

    Green Bay was up 28%. The biggest increase was limestone which was up 63%.

    The St. Lawrence Seaway was actually down 7% as of June 2014. However, by the end of August, this had picked up to a 3% gain compared to 2013. Part of that was due to a four-fold increase in grain shipments.

    The port of Monroe shipped out 10,000 tons of synthetic gypsum. The power plant there is expected to produce about half a million tons per year by 2015.

  3. Continuing to have difficulty viewing pics on my IPad.

Leave a Comment