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).
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!
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
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! 🙂