Last issue, we mentioned the anticipated closing during January of the sale of CABOT and CHIMO from Clarke Transport Canada Inc. and Newfoundland Steamships Ltd., respectively, to Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. We speculated that Upper Lakes might be intending to take another dip in the lake general cargo trade using the speedy motorships. Too late for inclusion in that issue, we learned that, although the sale documents were signed on January 26, U.L.S. has no intention of using the Clarke boats for package freight. In fact, Upper Lakes will bring CABOT and CHIMO to Port Weller Dry Docks from Sorel as soon as the canals open this spring. The forward sections of the two ships will be cut off and scrapped, and the sterns will be grafted onto the hulls of the lakers HILDA MARJANNE and NORTHERN VENTURE. This will allow the aft sections of the already-once-converted MARJANNE and VENTURE, 40 and 39 years old, respectively, and which have been causing difficulties in recent years, to be discarded. As the entire sterns of CABOT and CHIMO will be used, including machinery and cabins, the pilothouses can be removed from MARJANNE and VENTURE, thus turning the vessels into stemwinders, albeit of rather unusual design, and considerably increasing their cargo capacity. The problem, as we see it, is that the MARJANNE and VENTURE are 75 feet in the beam, while CABOT and CHIMO (44l'3" long and built in 1965 and 1967, respectively, at Lauzon) are only 56 feet wide. In most cases of the grafting together of parts of ships, the widths of the hulls involved have been similar. But how does one add a new stern to an older hull when there is a 19-foot difference in beam? It will be interesting to see how the job is done and what the end products of the work will look like...
While on the subject of Clarke Steamships, we should note that the correct name of the purchaser of La Traverse Riviere-du-Loup - St. Simeon Ltee. and its ferry TRANS-ST-LAURENT is not A. Rioux but rather Roger Rioux. As regards the former Clarke ferries CHARLEVOIX and SAGUENAY, which appeared at Kingston during 1982, we understand that the government may not be considering operating them there but rather on the Pelee Island route on Lake Erie.
Too late for the February issue came word that Canada Steamship Lines Inc. had decided to proceed with the reconversion of its self-unloader QUETICO to a straight-deck bulk carrier. The work began at Collingwood during January and the steamer should be ready for service this spring. It has been confirmed that, as a straight-decker, the 22-year-old vessel, which became a self-unloader in 1969, will revert to her original name and thus reappear in service as (c) WHITEFISH BAY.
More is now known about the conversion to a bulk cement carrier of the C.S.L. package freighter FORT WILLIAM. The work is being done at Collingwood and in view of the extensive reconstruction required, it will likely be August before the motorship is ready for service. We had originally thought that C.S. L. would retain ownership of the boat and operate her for the Lake Ontario Cement Company Ltd., much as the line has done in the past with GLENELG and METIS, and with ENGLISH RIVER for Canada Cement Lafarge Ltd. We now understand, however, that FORT WILLIAM has actually been sold to Lake Ontario Cement and that C.S.L. will operate her. FORT WILLIAM will likely be renamed, and we have heard reports that she will be given a "people name" honouring one of Lake Ontario's executives. Meanwhile, until FORT WILLIAM enters service, METIS will continue on the cement run on Lake Ontario. We understand that METIS will fit out as early as possible this spring to get a head start on her new (and possibly last) season.
Two lake freighters have fallen victim to fire this winter. On February 2, the U.S. Steel self-unloader JOHN G. MUNSON received damage to her forward end in a fire which began in her machine shop while the steamer was laid up at Milwaukee. Three men were injured in this accident. Then, on February 18, a fire of more unfortunate proportions broke out following an explosion in the forward end of the C.S.L. bulk carrier RICHELIEU at the shipyard at Thunder Bay. Crews were welding aboard RICHELIEU at the time of the accident, and three shipyard workers were killed in the fire.
At the time of this writing, the self-unloader LEADALE (II) was scheduled to be handed over to Marine Salvage Ltd. on March 1st, presumably for dismantling. LEADALE has been in the Ramey's Bend scrapyard since being raised from the bottom of the Welland Canal at Thorold in mid-December, 1982.
Efforts by Muskegon County to place the former Ann Arbor carferry "VIKING in passenger and auto service between Muskegon and Milwaukee seem to have failed. The county hoped to have the ship operated by Canonie Transportation Inc., a Muskegon firm which runs such tugs as AMERICAN VIKING, JOHN PURVES and BARBARA ANDRIE, and Canonie was to refit the ferry to increase her capacity. The cost of the necessary rehabilitation has proven to be prohibitive. (VIKING, along with ARTHUR K. ATKINSON, another former Ann Arbor ferry, was returned to the Penn Central Railroad after the Michigan Interstate Railway Company discontinued Ann Arbor service on April 26, 19-82.) Canonie and the county first attempted to obtain the Chessie System's ferry BADGER, which is to be taken out of service on March 31, but those negotiations also failed. Efforts to obtain VIKING for the proposed route were themselves complicated by liens lodged against VIKING and the ATKINSON by Michigan Interstate in its ongoing dispute with the State of Michigan over the operation of the "Annie's" former rail and water services.
We previously reported that the bunkers dock on Lime Island, at the foot of Lake Munuscong in the St. Mary's River, had been closed and that fuel would no longer be available there for passing vessels. For many years, the coal hoist and fuel tanks on its northwest end have been conspicuous parts of the scenery of the 2 1/2-mile-long island. During January, it was announced that the island's owner, the Consolidation Coal Company of Pittsburgh, had donated both Lime Island and Little Lime Island (which lies off its lower end) to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for recreational use as part of the Lake Superior State Forest.
In an effort to avoid the flooding which often results from ice in the Thames River, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority has chartered the tugs ATOMIC and VAC from Great Lakes Marine Contracting Ltd., Port Dover, and has stationed them at Lighthouse Cove, where the Thames flows into Lake St. Clair. The tugs will break up any ice concentration before it causes damage by backing up the river. The L.T.V.C.A. will also test a 40-foot hovercraft built at Chatham for icebreaking use. Unless conditions deteriorate greatly, however, neither the hovercraft nor the tugs will get a good workout this year, for ice accumulations around the lower lakes are at a minimum as a result of the marked lack of severe weather.
We have lacked space in recent issues to record a notable event which occurred at Wallaceburg, Ontario, on November 16, but readers might be interested even at this late date. Much has recently been said of the reduction in vessel traffic to the once-thriving port of Wallaceburg, primarily because of a lack of maintenance of the narrow river channels by federal authorities. Seeing any kind of ship at Wallaceburg has become a rarity and two vessels had not been seen in port together for many years. On November 16, however, both FRANQUELIN and NEW YORK NEWS of the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd., were in port to load corn at the new depot of the Hazzard's Grain Company Ltd. They were assisted in the river by the Sarnia tug GLENADA, and their appearance together rekindled local hopes that Wallaceburg might once again become an active port.
Price Waterhouse Ltd., receiver for the financially-troubled Bob-Lo Island amusement park and steamer service, has not yet been successful in its efforts to find a buyer for the complex. The Automobile Club of Michigan had considered acquiring the Bob-Lo Company, but finally decided not to become involved in the enterprise. At last report, several other parties still were interested in acquiring the historic park and its venerable steamers COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE, and the park's operators were hopeful of the situation being cleared up in time for the beginning of the 1983 summer season.
Two former Halco canallers have made the news reports recently. WESTCLIFFE, (a) WESTCLIFFE HALL (II)(74), was sold during 1982 by Cayman Shipping Corp. Ltd. to Durmar II Ltd. of Panama. The 1956-built motorship was not renamed in the sale. Then, during February, 1983, her sistership EAGLESCLIFFE, (a) EAGLESCLIFFE HALL (II)(74), which also had been sold by Hall Corp. to the Cayman Shipping Corp. Ltd. (we have no knowledge of any subsequent transfer), sank in shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, Texas, whilst carrying a cargo of grain from Corpus Christi. Photos of the wreck show only EAGLESCLIFFE's bridge and boat decks protruding above water, and we have no word on salvage possibilities.
The fleet of the Gaelic Tug Boat Company, Detroit, continues to grow. The company has now acquired the tug WILLIAM BELL from the Dravo Corporation of Pittsburgh. Built in 1950 and 81'7" in length, the BELL was previously known as MINN and was operated for a number of years by American Barge and Towing Inc., Detroit. Gaelic has not yet announced a new name for the tug.
The International Nickel Company has been hit hard by the depressed economy and has greatly reduced production at its various plants. Inco had stockpiles of iron ore on Goat Island at Little Current, on Lake Huron's North Channel, but these have been sold and freighters have been hauling away the ore. More ships will arrive in the spring to remove the last of the piles. At the same port, oil storage tanks located on the Manitoulin side of the swing bridge have been dismantled and the rails may even be taken off the bridge itself. Times are indeed difficult...
Shipwatchers, who were greatly disheartened by the lack of marine activity on the lakes in 1982, may well be blessed with increased vessel traffic in 1983. Lake Superior area mines anticipate operating near 40% capacity (an improvement over 1982), and there will be a quantity of taconite pellets to ship during the spring. It will remain to be seen whether this increased flow of ore will last into the summer.
The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto has at last decided to spend some money on its 20-year-old passenger and auto ferry ONGIARA in order to keep her running on the Island ferry service. ONGIARA is the only Metro ferry able to operate during the winter and Island residents depend on her. But her mechanical condition has suffered much of late and Metro has now had to obtain a new engine to replace one of ONGIARA's two ailing plants. The new machinery is to be installed in early March. Meanwhile, there has been no further word on Metro's hopes to acquire a new ferry to assist the existing fleet of five boats.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.