Good Morning!  I got up early this morning cause we’re getting close to Sault Ste. Marie and I wanted to make a quick Post to my Blog.  We’re running on schedule.  In fact we might even be running a little ahead of schedule.  In my experience on these ships it is not often that they run ahead of schedule.  I noticed during last year that the M/V Indiana Harbor is often running faster than our predictions.

I have often said; “You can’t find many operations that are more efficient than a Great Lakes Self-Unloading Bulk Freighter”….  This ship proves my point. All of American Steamship Company’s ships are very efficient. The Indy is probably just a little more efficient than the others, (for some “strange” reason 🙂 ).

A Fast Load At The Midwest Energy Terminal In Superior Wisconsin

We had an usual set of circumstances surrounding our trip to Superior, WI.  When we reached the Head of Lake Superior, the Duluth/Superior Harbor was packed full of thick ice from the strong Northeasterly winds that blew for a few days before we got there.  As we traveled across the Big Lake we became aware of the likelihood of delays.  Other ships that were ahead of us were having difficulty maneuvering in the Harbor and as time went by and ships couldn’t get in to the Harbor to load, there became a line-up of ships waiting their turn to load at the Midwest Energy Terminal. Other loading docks in the Duluth/Superior Harbor were experiencing the same difficulty.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alder was busy helping the ships in the harbor maneuver by breaking up the ice in the channels inside the Harbor.  It is my understanding that they are only “allowed” to clear the ice in the channels and not alongside any of the docks.  So the shipping Companies hire different Tug Companies to do that job when necessary.  I heard that the Tug Company, Great Lakes Towing got a lot of extra business because of the ice that the Northeasterly packed into the Duluth/Superior Harbor.

Eventually, at about 1900 Eastern Time April 15, after waiting for another strong Northeasterly wind to subside, we were able to get into the Harbor and to the dock to load.  Loading went extremely quick and we were underway again in not much over 8 hours.  In fact I was only able to spend a couple of hours with my lovely wife Linda.

Everyone was able to get “up the street” to the different stores and shops to get the things we need to make life more bearable while we’re at work.  I was able to get my usual supply of Tootsie-Pops and a few other items.  We made the most of the time we had.

Quick Trip East Across Lake Superior

Meeting Another Ship
Meeting Another Ship

After our quick turnaround at the Midwest Energy Terminal we had a real nice ride across Lake Superior and into Whitefish Bay.  As I write this Blog post we are slowly approaching Point Louise in the St. Mary’s River.  We should be in the Poe Lock around 0930 Eastern Time this morning, April 17.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get online at the Soo and post this article to the Great Lakes Ships Blog.

Last night Jimmy, (my Wheelsman), and I had a nice watch as we navigated the Mighty Indy on the course leg between Manitou Island, and Caribou Island.  We dropped it off to the 4×8 watch about 2 hours from Whitefish Point.  Jimmy and I will “pick her up” from the 8×12 watch somewhere around Six Mile Point which is below Mission Point, unless there is a traffic delay at the Locks.

During our watch last night we DID have a problem with our ECPINS.  That is our navigation system which plots our position using GPS, quite like a handheld GPS in your car.  Except that our ECPINS is “interfaced” with our Gyro-Compass and Radar and the AIS too.  Well, I could see that the “interface” between the Gyro and the ECPINS was not functioning properly. There was nothing wrong with the GPS, Gyro or EPINS however, so I left it alone.  When Dan Fischer, (our First Mate), relieved me at 0330 he knew exactly what was wrong and remedied the situation within moments.

Also, I broke my own policy of NEVER doing paperwork during a midnight watch.  But, there wasn’t any traffic at all on that leg of our transit and besides I’ve got one of the best Wheelsman in the fleet as a watch partner.  I felt I had to get caught up on some items for U.S. and Canadian Customs since we will be fueling in Corunna, ONT after we unload at the Detroit Edison Power Plant in St. Clair, MI tomorrow.

I Hate Custom’s Paperwork

Like the heading says;  I hate doing paperwork for Customs when we have to fuel in Canada.  For years and years these ships fueled in Canada at fuel docks in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers with not much more than a phone call or two to Custom’s.  Then, since 9/11, simply fueling in Canada has become an ordeal, especially for the 2nd Mate, (me).  The 2nd Mate on a Great Lakes Freighter, (at least in our Company), does most of the paperwork that involves Customs or ship’s personnel.  In fact we are “lovingly” called;  The “Papermate”.  Ha, Ha…

Anyway, I’ve got a handle on it and I will prevail.  Although I never can seem to remember HOW I did the Customs paperwork the last time I had to do it, somehow I still manage to muddle my way through it yet again.  I will muddle my way through it this time too – I just HATE IT!

Nice Weather Predicted On Thursday In St. Clair MI

But I’m not going to let paperwork get me down because we have nice weather predicted for our unload at Detroit Edison in St. Clair, MI tomorrow.  Jimmy told me we’re suppose to see temps in the 70s.  Maybe I’ll start my walking “regime” this trip.  I need the exercise badly.  Jimmy lives near St. Clair and hopefully he’ll get a chance to go home and see his family.  His daughter and her husband just returned from the UK so he’s anxious to see them.

Anyway, unless we come across something unpredictable – this load is proving to be a nice uneventful trip – Just the way we like ‘em!

Talk to you later…

Doug

PS:  Evidently we’re being delayed by traffic at the Soo Locks.  I just looked out my porthole and we’re stopped at Big Point.  My luck, I’ll probably have to go out and tie up at the Locks.  Geez, I gotta do EVERYTHING!

PSS:  I DID have to go out to tie-up at the Poe Lock because we waited for the M/V Paul Tregurtha, one of Interlake’s Thousand Footers, who was upbound.  Then the 12×4 watch, Jimmy and I – guided the Big Indy down as far, and into, the Rock Cut.  We got relieved right after we made the turn into the “infamous” channel.  So, we earned our dinner.  Also, I found out that though it’s supposed to be warm in St. Clair, they’re expecting 3 inches of rain while we’re there.  And speaking of dinner – it’s just about 1600, (4pm), and I gotta go eat.  Keep coming back for more “sea-stories” from the M/V Indiana Harbor!  See ya later…