The Paterson motorvessel LABRADOC was not the only laker to be affected by the severe windstorm which swept across the Great Lakes on April 5 and 6. On the evening of the 5th, the Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader SILVERDALE left Toronto bound for Clarkson on her first trip of the season. The storm caught her as she was nearing her destination and what should have been a short trip turned into something much more lengthy. On five occasions, she fell into the trough of the seas and she was not brought under full control until she had been blown all the way down the lake to the area of the Main Duck Islands. She was eventually taken into shelter in the Kingston area.
Another victim was the former Inland Steel Company bulk carrier CLARENCE B. RANDALL which has been lying idle at Milwaukee and awaiting scrapping. She parted her mooring lines in the wind on the evening of April 5 and somehow managed to get herself wedged between docks. Come the following morning, the tugs JOHN PURVES and ARUNDEL were still trying to get her back to her berth. Although her peregrinations took her quite close to several vessels which were in the course of fitting out for the new navigation season, we know of no damage having been inflicted on any of the nearby lakers. There is no indication as to when RANDALL will be scrapped.
Yet another victim of the big wind was the Hall Corporation self-unloader HALLFAX, which had wintered at Prescott and was attempting to clear that port at the beginning of her first trip of the season on April 6th. As she backed out of the Prescott slip, she was caught in the wind and, as her new master attempted to bring her under control, she allegedly made two complete revolutions in the river. She was then blown stern-first against the north abutment of the Prescott - Ogdensburg highway bridge and succeeded in putting a large crease in her stern plating. By this time, the ship was totally out of control and she passed downriver under the north span of the bridge, completely out of the designated shipping channel. Once she was below the bridge, her crew managed to regain control of the ship but, by that time, she had insufficient room to permit any attempt to turn the boat and head her back upriver. As a result, she had to be taken down through the Iroquois Lock and then turned and brought back up again. On the upbound trip, she managed to avoid the bridge but, in attempting to make the slip from which she had departed only a short time previously (although it must have seemed like ages to her master), she fouled a marker buoy and hit the end of the pier a good wallop. We understand that, discretion being the better part of valour, the ship was put back in her lay-up berth while all involved heaved a sigh of relief, tried to figure out what had happened, and made arrangements for the repair of the damage suffered by HALLFAX.
Toronto Harbour was officially opened for the 1979 navigation season on April 6th with the arrival of the tanker TEXACO WARRIOR which had wintered at Montreal. The first salt water vessel to enter the port was the Christensen Canadian African Lines' motorship THORSCAPE, which arrived on April 8th. The first complete upbound transit of the Welland Canal was accomplished on March 28 by H. M. GRIFFITH, while the initial complete downbound passage came on March 29 with TADOUSSAC.
The Q & O steamer MELDRUM BAY, the former GEORGE HINDMAN (IV), arrived at Toronto on April 10 with the grain cargo that she had not been able to deliver last autumn. She had wintered at Humberstone. Unfortunately, her first trip under her new name was not particularly auspicious. She suffered from boiler problems en route (much the same problem as that suffered in 1978 by her sistership, HOCHELAGA) and spent a week at Toronto undergoing repairs. We understand that her owner gave some consideration to the possibility of repowering MELDRUM BAY instead of repairing the burned-out boiler.
MELDRUM BAY was not the only Q & O vessel to begin the 1979 navigation season with problems. BLANCHE HINDMAN (she had not as yet had her new name, LAC STE. ANNE, painted on her) went through a particularly lengthy fit-out at Toronto. It seems that proper attention was not paid last autumn to the draining of her bilge piping when she went into winter quarters. As a result of damage due to freezing, much replacement has been necessary.
The retired Q & O steamer HERON BAY, her name now abbreviated to HERON B., wintered at Quebec City, presumably in preparation for an eventual tow to a foreign scrapyard. We understand that, early in the spring, she was taken over to the Davie shipyard at Lauzon and there was cannibalized for parts. Much of her equipment has apparently been salvaged for further use on the barges owned by Techno-Maritime Ltee. Meanwhile, LEADALE is also languishing in the Quebec City area, having been towed there during 1978. She is resting at a berth in the St. Charles River and is owned by a representative (that Mr. Richardson whom we mentioned in an earlier report) of United Metals, Hamilton, the firm that operates the scrapyard at Strathearne Terminals. It seems evident that an overseas buyer for LEADALE is being sought.
The 83-year-old BLACK RIVER was placed in commission this spring by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. despite earlier rumours to the contrary. She left Toronto on her first trip of the season on April 11 and proceeded to Sorel where she loaded pig iron for Cleveland. We are told that BLACK RIVER's certificate expires on July 17, 1979; we have no idea whether Q & O will give the historic vessel her necessary drydocking or whether they may simply try to obtain an extension until the end of the season. It is entirely possible, of course, that she may simply be withdrawn from service in mid-season, but we hope that this will not be the case.
Last month, we speculated that Westdale Shipping Ltd. might well be seeking the services of Canada Steamship Lines' self-unloader HOCHELAGA to replace its retired FERNDALE (II). We now learn that HOCHELAGA is presently operating under charter to Westdale with a C.S.L. crew aboard. We presume that this arrangement will continue until Westdale can actually purchase another boat (or HOCHELAGA herself) for its fleet.
The former Paterson canaller MONDOC (III) was, as previously mentioned, sold for off-lakes service around the beginning of the new year. It seems that her Canadian registry was closed on January 18th but we have yet to identify her Jamaican purchasers or learn of any new name which might have been given to her. MONDOC had been removed from the lakes prior to the close of the 1978 season so that a buyer might be found for her while she was on salt water.
We had earlier speculated on the possibilities of further service for the Kinsman steamer KINSMAN ENTERPRISE, concluding that her future did not seem to be very bright. We have since learned that neither ENTERPRISE nor her sistership, HENRY STEINBRENNER (III), will be placed in service this year. The only good news is that neither ship has been sold for scrapping or otherwise and, for the present, they will be held in reserve. These very handsome boats measure 587.1 x 58.3 x 27.7, tonnages being 7658 Gross and 6415 Net for the HENRY and 7692 Gross, 6449 Net for the ENTERPRISE. Both have served only one other operator and were "tinstackers" until their sale to Kinsman in 1965. KINSMAN ENTERPRISE was built in 1906 as NORMAN B. REAM, Hull 70 of the Chicago Shipbuilding Company, while HENRY STEINBRENNER made her appearance in 1907 as GEORGE F. BAKER, Hull 518 of the Superior Shipbuilding Company, West Superior, Wisconsin. These two steamers, along with the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company's HERON BAY (II), the former J. PIERPONT MORGAN, which also was retired near the close of the 1978 season, were the last active members of a once-large group of "beatle-browed" tinstackers. Apart from WIARTON (THOMAS LYNCH), used as a wharf at Hamilton, the only other surviving member of the class is U.S. Steel's PETER A. B. WIDENER which is idle at Duluth and has not operated since 1974.
Visitors to the Welland Canal this spring will, once again, be treated to an extended exposure to the scenic beauty of the tug PRESQUE ISLE. The tug and her barge wintered at Milwaukee, but the tug arrived at Port Weller in late April for the replacement of an engine, a job expected to take about one month. PRESQUE ISLE's bridgewings, which are too wide to allow her to pass through the canal locks, were cut off at Milwaukee on April 4, just as they were back in 1977 when she spent the better part of the summer at Port Weller. Her earlier incarceration was also a result of engine problems.
There has been some considerable confusion over the circumstances of the scrap tow of BAFFIN TRANSPORT and whether or not the 23-year-old tanker arrived safely at her destination, all this due to reports that she had broken tow in mid-voyage. BAFFIN TRANSPORT was downbound at Quebec City on November 11, 1978 in tow of the tug OCEAN CROWN, an assist being rendered in the St. Lawrence River by YVON SIMARD. She was duly taken southwards by the deep-sea tug but, on December 11th, she was reported to have broken free from the tug in a position 22.27 N., 92.49 W., in the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico, only a short distance from her intended destination, the Mexican port of Tuxpan which is located about midway between Tampico and Veracruz. BAFFIN TRANSPORT was subsequently recovered and the tow resumed, the tanker being safely berthed at Tuxpan on December 19. Her purchaser has been identified as Navieros de Tuxpan S.A. and the sale is said to have been completed on August 25, 1978.
Last issue, we mentioned again the problems facing the Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM. We are pleased to report that the CHIEF was granted a further extension of one year of continued operation, but it presently seems unlikely that she will last out this period, at least not in her present shape. Her operator is considering conversion to a tug/barge operation in October, and it has not been specified whether CHIEF WAWATAM herself will become the barge or whether other tonnage will be used.
One of the salt water vessels which has been a familiar visitor to the lakes for many years has been lost and will no more be seen in these waters. On January 20, 1979, while bound from Montreal to Antwerp, the Polish Ocean Lines motorvessel ZAMOSC was in collision with the Japanese vessel JINEI MARU on the River Scheldt. Severely damaged, ZAMOSC was beached in a position 51.22 N., 03.46 E., near Terneuzen, the Netherlands. Soon after she was run aground, ZAMOSC heeled over onto her side and settled in the sand. It seems apparent that she is considered to be a constructive total loss. ZAMOSC was one of a group of four Polish vessels which have traded into the lakes for a decade, her sisters being ZABRZE, ZAKOPANE and ZAWIERCIE. These four ships were of somewhat unusual appearance, their stacks being perhaps their most notable feature. ZAMOSC measured 401'11" x 58'1" x 34'2", 6581 Gross, 3549 Net, and was built in 1969 by Stocznia Szczecinska at Szczecin, Poland.
Two more of the Ellerman Lines Ltd. vessels which have traded into the lakes have now been sold out of the fleet, both to owners with addresses in Cyprus. The 6977-ton CITY OF DUNDEE has been purchased by the Dundee Maritime Company Ltd. and renamed DUNDEE, while the 7012-ton CITY OF LICHFIELD has gone to the Serenity Maritime Company Ltd. as LEEDS. Both vessels were built in 1961. Judging from the names of the new owners and the renames chosen for the ships, we wonder whether there may still be some British money in these two handsome boats.
When the Columbia fleet laid its steamer MIDDLETOWN up at Lorain last fall, it was with the intention that she be drydocked at the AmShip yard. This did not come to pass because of the continued AmShip strike, and MIDDLETOWN was accordingly towed into Port Colborne in early April for the necessary work. It is now rumoured that Columbia may send its idle THOMAS WILSON to Port Weller for the rather extensive repairs which she requires.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.