Great Lakes Ships And Boat-Nerds

Great Lakes Ships are of interest to a great many people in Canada and the United States.  There may even be Great Lakes Shipping enthusiasts in other Countries of the World.  Shipping on the Great Lakes of North America is a very large industry that goes on without much fanfare.  This Blog is dedicated to a group of people who have a keen interest in Ships on the Great Lakes who are called, (and even call themselves), “Boat-Nerds”.  These folks commonly go to any lengths to satisfy their curiosity of our industry.  I’m a Great Lakes Seaman and I want to show them my appreciation by offering them my intimate insight into the Great Lakes Shipping Industry.

My name is Doug LaLonde.  I work for the American Steamship Company and I’m a Marine Pilot aboard the M/V Indiana Harbor.  The Indiana Harbor is a thousand foot long, one hundred and five foot wide “Self-Unloading Bulk Freighter.  “We” typically carry Taconite from the Iron Ore Ranges of Northwest Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota to the Steel Mills surrounding the Lower Great Lakes;  Indiana Harbor and Burns Harbor in Indiana, Cleveland and Lorain in Ohio and a couple Steel Mills in Detroit, Michigan.  There are a few others as well.  This is a business that has been going on for over a hundred years and will probably continue for another hundred years or more.

Why Should I Write A Blog About Great Lakes Ships?

When I refer to Great Lakes Ships in the pages and posts of this Blog, I will be referring to the ships that carry bulk cargo on the Great Lakes.  There are a number of “other” waterborne industries on the Great Lakes that I’m not very familiar with.  However, I am all too familiar with the shipping of bulk raw materials on Great Lakes Self-Unloading Bulk Freighters.  After all,  I have been working on these ships for over 38 years.  I feel I am well qualified to write a Blog for my “Boat-Nerd” friends about the Industry they have such a loyal interest in.

I would also like to personally THANK the “Boat-Nerds”…  they have a genuine interest in Great Lakes Ships while many folks don’t even know “we” exist.

Great Lakes Ships Carry Many Types Of Raw Materials

Self-Unloading Great Lakes Bulk Freighters carry many types of cargo other than Iron Ore Taconite Pellets.  Some freighters on the Great Lakes carry Limestone and Dolomite from mines in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Northern Michigan.  The stone is of different sizes and grades and is often used as aggregate for concrete and cement products.  Some of the Limestone is made into lime for many types of products and industries.   Great Lakes Ships carry coal from coal terminals in Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois.  The coal is burned in furnaces at electric generating plants throughout the Midwest region of North America as well as places in Canada.  Coal is also burned in the milling of Steel products.

Self Unloading Great Lakes Ships

Great Lakes bulk freighters are called “Self-Unloaders” because of their ability to discharge their cargo without any help from shoreside facilities.  At one time Great Lakes Ships were unloaded using huge shoreside cranes called bridge cranes or “hewlits”.  The advent of the Self-Unloading bulk freighter on the Great Lakes was instrumental in opening up the market of raw materials to smaller businesses in many out-lying rural communities.  A Self-Unloading Great Lakes Bulk Freighter can unload in almost any area that can be reached from the waters edge by their booms that are usually around 250 feet in length.  Of course the River or Lake needs to be deep enough to accommodate the Ship’s “draft” or depth.

The Shipping Companies themselves gained advantage with “Self-Unloaders” because the “turn-around” time, (the time it takes to unload), was drastically reduced.  There is NOT a more efficient means of Waterborne transportation than a Great Lakes Self-Unloading Bulk Freighter!

For More Information About Great Lakes Ships Simply Keep On Reading My Blog

If you are interested in the Great Lakes Bulk Freighter Industry then bookmark this site and come back often.  I enjoy writing about Great Lakes Ships and I intend to have this Blog for a long, long time.  You see, I’m starting this Blog for the benefit of my good friends the “Boat-Nerds” and because I need a hobby when I retire in a few short years.  So, I hope to see you here again very soon!  You can sign up for my informative Newsletter by filling in the form below.

Your Guide To The Great Lakes Ships,
Doug LaLonde,
2nd Mate/Pilot,
M/V Indiana Harbor


    3 replies to "Boat Nerds Love Ships On The Great Lakes"

    • Alan Sieting

      Hi Doug, Your mom gave me this web site and i enjoy it a lot. Keep up the very interesting stories.
      Alan Sieting

    • Butch Jorgenson

      Hello Doug,

      I live in Milwaukee, WI and I was wondering if you can give me a heads up as to when the Indiana Harbor will be leaving. I want to get a picture as it passes the Breakwater Lighthouse. Retired now and have the time to do this finally. I have the Marine Tracker app on my phone but anything you can share would be great. Here is a link to a picture of the ALGOWOOD delivering a load of road salt this past winter.
      http://overmilwaukee.smugmug.com/Landscapes/The-Lakefront/i-fVPcRH2/0/L/DSC_8802-L.jpg

    • Tom Z., Sr.

      Hello Doug, hey…great blog and videos! I got this from a friend of mine up in Sault Ste. Marie on the Canadian side, and I really appreciate what you guys do. Especially after watching the Captain Phillips story of the Maersk Alabama pirate ordeal…that hit close to home because he’s from Vermont as well. Not that there’s many pirates on the lakes, but it was interesting enough to give me a new found appreciation for these big boats, and what you guys do.

      Good work men.

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