OK.  I know that there’s “no place like home” and it’s true for me too.  Right now my sea-bag is in the garage and I’m at home with my beautiful and loving wife Linda and our little buddy Eli, (the puppy dog).  But the Big M/V Indiana Harbor is my home too – whether I like it or not, (and sometimes I do NOT).

Walking Away - Lay-up 2014
Walking Away – Lay-up 2014

The Deck Department left the M/V Indiana Harbor in Milwaukee on the 13th of this month.  The Big Indy got to the Lay-Up Dock in Milwaukee, WI on the afternoon of January 11, 2014.  We arrived in Milwaukee from Burns Harbor, IN where we had unloaded our last cargo of Taconite Pellets for the 2013 Great Lakes Navigation Season. It was a truly memorable 2013 Sailing Season on the Great Lakes for all of us. The ice was so bad and weather conditions so cold that it took us over 10 days to get in our last load.

  Will Brutally Cold Winters Be The “Norm” For The Great Lakes Region?

Some of us experienced weather we had never experienced before on the Great Lakes.  It has been many, many years since we’ve had the bitter cold conditions we had during the month of December and on into January, 2014.

“They” say;  weather comes in “cycles” and I have to believe it’s true.  I can remember about 20 plus years ago that brutal cold like what we faced this past fall was more or less normal.  However, many Great Lakes Seaman have never seen it.  We have had very mild winters for many years in the Great Lakes Region.  I think the cycle of “mild” winters is finally over!

Tug Carly Selvick
Tug Carly Selvick

We had PLENTY of brutally cold weather the past couple of months on the Big Indy.  Of course I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t know already know.  I would venture to say that a new cycle has begun and we can expect viciously cold weather during the upcoming winter runs on the Great Lakes for the next several years.

The Engine Room Is Still Being Laid Up On The M/V Indiana Harbor

Chief Engineer Paul Hurley, 1st Assistant Engineer Ralph Biggs, 2nd Assistant Engineer Oleg Maslak, 3rd Assistant Engineer Clarence Houle and the extra 3rd Assistant Engineer Kelly Davis along with Paul Smetana, (a QMED), Shukri Yahya, (another QMED) and GUDE’s Sakr Abdulrab and Ahmed Omer and of course the Galley department; Chief Cook Maccine Bell and Monassar Saleh are all still on the M/V Indiana Harbor while the Engine Room is being laid up for the winter.  Soon they too will be going home for a brief winter lay-up.

The Engine Department always stays on an American Steamship Company vessel for 7 to 10 days after the Deck Department has secured the ship to the dock and left.  They have a lot of work to do and some of it involves getting the ship ready for the next season. Of course the Galley Department stays to feed everyone.  Fleet Engineers are also on board the ship orchestrating the “Winter Work” that will be done while the ship is laid up.  Obviously it takes a lot of work to get a Great Lakes Ship prepared for yet another grueling Great Lakes Shipping Season.

High Winds, Bitterly Cold Temperatures and Heavy Ice Make Shipping Nearly Impossible


This is the new edition to our family; The Jack Russell Terrier - Eli
This is the new edition to our family; The Jack Russell Terrier – Eli

In the next 2 or 3 posts, (which hopefully I’ll have done in the next couple of weeks), I’ll talk about the last couple of months of the past season.  I’ll give you a rundown of our adventures through the months of November, December and January.  Hopefully I can remember everything.  I may not get the exact times right – but I can give you a very good idea of what went on.

I’ll give you a little hint right now;  It was terribly cold, extremely stormy and we spent many days running through ice that was nearly impassable.

So check in every now and then in the next couple of weeks to read all about it.  I’ve got some pretty decent pictures and a video or two I can post as well.

Till then – have a happy lay-up! 🙂

    8 replies to "Home Is Where The Seabag Is"

    • Alan Sieting

      Hi Doug, Thank you fpr another Blog. We really enjoy them, I go back and read them over from time to time.Now when will your new season start? Do you ever take your wife with you on a trip? How much ice can you get thru before you need a ice breaker to get you going again? I think that would be a fun job in the summer time.. Keep them bogs coming we really look forward for each one. Have a great vacation.


    • Dotti

      Enjoy your time off. I am sure you are just as busy at home as you are on the boat doing things that you cannot get to while away.

      Looking forward to more stories and pics!

      Thanks Doug.


    • Bruce Kaatz

      Thanks for the post, Doug. Glad you safely completed another shipping season. Had been wondering how challenging the cold and ice has been for the Indiana and crew these past 6 weeks – looking forward to hearing your insights. What does the deck department needs to do to prepare for winter layup?
      Enjoy your winter layup!

    • Beverly La Londe

      I’m VERY glad you’re home safe and sound! Seems like those ships would really take a beating getting through the ice you’ve had this season.
      I like the picture of The Pup. He looks so smart and happy. Hope you have a great winter at home! Bev

    • Steve Geiger

      I watches the shipping news closely from new years until locks closing. I am glad you and all the boats laid up so far made it in safely. Quite a winter. Waiting to read more stories and I went back and reread all the old ones as I just found your blog. Be safe this winter and enjoy. The end of March will be here soon.

    • Renee Butterfield

      Exciting information for this armchair traveler! Thanks Doug! I think you’re absolutely right and we can expect more intense winters on the Great Lakes as well as on the shore! I just joined your blog this evening and I also enjoyed listening to the music and look forward to sharing both of them with you! Keep up the good work, Bro! Lots of love and prayers, Ed, Renee and Nicole
      P.S. Give Eli a hug from us!

    • John

      Sooooooo, what’s in your Seabag????? Wondering, when you pack up for your seasonal trip. What items do you take? Must haves and creature comforts that you cannot live without? Maybe in a future post? 🙂

    • Jay Roder

      Thank you for writing this blog! I just recently was retired as a paramedic and started thinking about my dad, who worked several years on the boats both before and after WWII. Just toured the Valley Camp at the Sault and wished so much he was still around to hear all his old stories. Your blog sort of fills the void left by his passing a few years ago. Godspeed Doug.

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