Archives for March 2015

Gott goes to Two Harbors

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After battling the ice in Whitefish Bay, at the other end of Lake Superior,  and with the considerable help of the Alder and the Mackinaw, the Edwin H. Gott, finally arrived back in the bright blue waters off the port of Duluth, coming under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on Monday morning, March 30, 2015. After getting some maintenance at the listenwhistlebarblue-2Port Terminal, she departed for Two Harbors to pick up a cargo of iron ore pellets on Tuesday afternoon, March 31 (above and below). Listen as she salutes the bridge while going out to the lake.
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Mesabi Miner goes back to work

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After a couple days getting some early season maintenance done at the Port Terminal, the Mesabi Miner pulled away on Sunday afternoon, March 29, 20125 from her berth there (above). After turning around, she made her way over to Midwest Energy where she would load 58,000 tons of coal for Minnesota Power’s plant at Taconite Harbor.
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Mesabi Miner back in Duluth

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After the Mesabi Miner lost the race to be the first to depart the port, she settled for 2nd place, taking coal to Taconite Harbor. She turned around and headed back to Duluth, arriving at 8:51 (above) this morning (March 26, 2015) and easily winning the first to arrive trophy. But all was not so good; she will undergo a couple days of maintenance at the Port Terminal (below) before returning to Midwest Energy for more coal. She sits in loose ice here, but that is better than the John G. Munson. She is having lots of trouble with ice just this side of the Soo Locks. Both the Mackinaw and the Alder are working to clear a path through the ice for her to continue down bound to Gary and for the Edwin H. Gott and the Roger Blough to continue up bound.
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John G. Munson departs Duluth

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After spending the winter at the Fraser Shipyards, the John G. Munson loaded iron ore pellets at the CN Dock in West Duluth. She is seen here departing with the first cargo of the new season, taking it down to Gary. She left at 5:29 pm on Monday, March 23rd, almost a week later than our usual first departure.
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First movement of the season

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Above, the John G. Munson is backing out from Howard’s Pocket and her winter berth, while the Heritage Marine tug Nels J. moves ahead of her. They are both headed for the Calumet Fuel Dock. The Munson to fuel before going to CN Duluth to load iron ore pellets for Gary  and the Nels J. to make sure the ice did not cause any problems (and it did not). Just below, the Munson eases by the winter berth of the American Integrity.
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Getting ready for this Spring, and next Spring

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The above picture was taken on St. Patrick’s Day showing that, with the help of Mother Nature and her warm weather, and a bit of an assist from the Alder, the port is ready for ship traffic to begin. But …
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… work began earlier this week (above, on March 21st, 2015) on the new Pier B waterfront hotel project which will be located beside the silos formerly used by Lafarge Cement when they discharged cement from the Alpena and the J.A.W. Iglehart. The project will include a new, 140-room hotel with a waterfront restaurant, boardwalk and boat ramp. There is significant site preparation including the removal of the side buildings next to the silos, above. The silos will stay but their use has not yet been determined. As at one other well-known site, there will be a bridge that will allow pedestrians to cross over a slip to the facility. Developers promise that this pedestrian bridge will work, perhaps because it will by a sliding bridge and not a lift bridge. And I doubt they will paint it blue.
On the other side of the silos rests the Sundew (below) and happily, she will stay. Sundew owner Jeff Foster is also a member of the development group.
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Ironically, this week also brought news of the pending merger of Lafarge Cement (still with a Superior facility that the Alpena continues to visit) and Holcim, operators of the cement dock in Duluth, formerly owned by St Lawrence Cement.

Great Lakes Ice Coverage slipping away

from Petoskeynews.com (Petoskey is a town on the north east shore of Lake Michigan)

Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015 1:19 pm

Mark Johnson (989) 732-1111mjohnson@gaylordheraldtimes.com

NORTHERN MICHIGAN — It appears spring is finally here and with the end to another brutal winter comes the end of another year of extensive Great Lakes ice coverage.

According to George Leshkevich, physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, total Great Lakes ice coverage peaked Feb. 28 at approximately 88.7 percent combined among the five lakes.

Though some of the lakes — Erie, Huron and Superior — approached almost complete ice cover, the total of 88.7 percent fell short of the ice coverage mark set last year on March 6, and approximately 6 percent short of the record set in 1979 at 94.7 percent.

“The way things are going now, we are looking at an earlier breakup and an earlier ice-off date (compared to 2014),” Leshkevich said. “Last year was extreme.”

According to statistics compiled by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, out of all of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie reached the highest ice coverage percent at 98.09 percent on Feb. 18.

Lake Ontario also experienced its peak ice coverage Feb. 18, when 82.6 percent of the lake was covered in ice.

Coming in at No. 2 for highest total ice coverage was Lake Huron, recording an ice coverage of 96.28 percent on March 6.

Lakes Superior and Michigan both reached their maximum ice coverage Feb. 28, with Lake Michigan recording 72.8 percent ice coverage and Lake Superior 95.5 percent.

Since reaching those numbers, warmer temperatures and larger amounts of sunlight among other factors have began to break up the large quantities of ice.

“It is going down now,” Leshkevich said in regard to the melting ice. “Even if we get another cold snap, it would have to be really cold for really long to turn things around.”

Leshkevich said the ice coverage patterns this year are about normal, as the lower Great Lakes — Erie and Ontario — typically reach maximum ice coverage between the middle and end of February, while the upper Great Lakes — Michigan, Superior and Huron — usually reach peak ice coverage sometime during the first half of March.

Unless there is another cold spell, the ice cover should continue to melt as spring approaches, unlike 2014 when Leshkevich said some amount of ice cover remained on Lake Superior until June 6.

But with the unpredictable Michigan weather patterns, Leshkevich said anything is possible.

“Things could still turn around,” he said. “Cold weather could prolong (the ice cover).”

Follow @Mark_JohnsonGHT on Twitter.

3 Chiefs

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Dave Campbell, Chief operator on the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge, LCDR Anthony J. Maffia, Commanding officer Coast Guard cutter Alder and Vanta E. Coda II, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority are just outside the bridge on the Alder enjoying the almost warm weather this morning (March 12, 2015).
Listen as we salute the bridge while going out to the lake. You will first hear a warning they gave us just before blowing the whistle; I think it says, “Ears on deck,”  meaning hold your ears.
The Alder was the first vessel to go under the Lift Bridge this season.  That gave a chance for Campbell to go under the bridge.  He has gone up with the bridge thousands of times; this was only his 3rd time to go under the bridge.
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Below, we are just about to leave the ice and go for a short trip on the open water of Lake Superior, about 5 miles out.
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The temperature was pretty warm for March 12, but inside the pilot  house, where the smart people stay, it was nice and warm.
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We returned using the track we had opened up on the way out; notice the wind was already moving it around; we left a straight track behind us.
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Some of the bridge operators had to say hello to the boss as he passed under them.
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Great Lakes Towing Company tugs North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana and Minnesota are already in open water. Behind them, the American Integrity spent the winter at the Port Authority dock at Holcim Cement.
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The Mesabi Miner has been at Midwest Energy Resources for the winter. With no cargo, she is high in the water (ice) but will soon be loading coal and will likely be the first commercial boat to depart the port within the next week.
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We’re off

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The US Coast Guard cutter Alder departed her dock right on time, 9 am, March 9, 2015. As always, she was the first vessel movement in the port since January.

The good old days

While we wait for the Alder to open up the season, probably on Monday, March 9, here is a video I created during the beginning of the 2007 season.

Duluth Layup, 2003-04

Is that water out there??

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Taken on March 2, 2015