In the January issue, we mentioned the plans of the city of Toledo to purchase the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company's idle steamer WILLIS B. BOYER, (a) COL. JAMES M. SCHOONMAKER (69), for incorporation into the city's International Park development. It had appeared that the BOYER would be acquired and opened to public viewing, but the prospects of preserving the BOYER took a turn for the worse when, on December 31st, Toledo city council voted against spending the money necessary to acquire the ship. Some council members were worried that maintenance costs would make the project an expensive venture even if the original purchase price were reasonable. One councilman, who obviously knows nothing whatever about ships, commented that some other type of vessel would be more desirable, and that the city should "look for something more glamorous than a 600-foot freighter"! It would appear that the BOYER will now be sold for scrap, along with other idle Cliffs steamers, and that this beautiful vessel will not be preserved. Toledo might have another chance to acquire the ship in April in the unlikely event that Cliffs cannot sell the BOYER for scrap, but that presupposes that Toledo's city council will somehow manage to come to its senses in the interim.
The "tall ship" CIUDAD DE INCA, which sank at Kingston on December 27, was finally raised on January 10, despite heavy ice and adverse weather conditions which hampered salvage efforts. The 128-year-old vessel was raised with the aid of heavy pumps and inflatable air bags, and the cost of the salvage job was estimated to be in the area of $100,000. Meanwhile, the British owners of CIUDAD DE INCA are going ahead with plans to have the ship in Australia for an international reunion of tall ships in 1987. To do this, a way must be found to get the ship out of the lakes without passing through U.S. waters, where she would be arrested in connection with outstanding litigation arising out of the loss in June of 1984 of MARQUES, another boat owned by the same interests. It is possible that CIUDAD DE INCA may travel up the Rideau Canal in the spring of 1986 so that she might be in Ottawa to participate in the annual May tulip festival there. That trip would require the removal of the INCA's masts and rigging, and their reinstallation at Ottawa. The ship would then leave Ottawa via the Ottawa River, which would take her to Montreal through Canadian waters, and would avoid the boat having to pass through the U.S. section of the St. Lawrence canals. It will be interesting indeed to see whether this daring and inventive scheme can be brought to fruition. CIUDAD DE INCA has been trapped in the lakes since July 1984, and despite running numerous excursions out of various Canadian ports on Lake Ontario, the ship has been losing considerable money as a result of not being able to participate in her usual deep-sea activities.
CIUDAD DE INCA is not the only large sailing vessel spending the winter in forced confinement in Canadian inland waters. MERKUR had been operating on the lakes in 1985. and she attempted to sail back to salt water in December, but her departure had been left too late. On December 12, she arrived at Montreal from the lakes, and on December 14 she departed Montreal for Quebec City. She only made it as far as Trois-Rivieres, however, and there ice conditions forced her to abort her run for the coast. She then headed back upstream, arriving back at Montreal on December 19. The decision was made to leave her at Montreal for the winter, rather than to risk damaging the ship by trying to take her out through the river ice.
Residents of the Sydenham River and Thames River areas of Southwestern Ontario have made arrangements for icebreaking services in the two rivers to help in preventing flooding during the spring run-off. At the present time, it would appear that PRESCOTONT and WILLIAM A. WHITNEY will be breaking ice in the lower Thames near where it meets Lake St. Clair, and that BARBARA ANN and GLENADA will perform the same duties in the Sydenham River and Chenal Ecarte. There have been some difficulties raised in respect of the use of U.S.-flag tugs for these jobs, but it appears that those problems can be resolved in time for the tugs to be available when necessary.
At last report, surveyors were attempting to arrange for divers to examine the hull of the grounded cement carrier ROBERT KOCH, in order to determine her actual condition. Weather and ice conditions had earlier prevented such an examination. Until a complete review of the KOCH's situation can be made, it will not be known whether there is any possibility of salvaging the barge.
Speaking of cement boats, it was on Christmas Eve, 1979, that the cement carrier E. M. FORD sank at her dock at Jones Island, Milwaukee, after having been torn from her moorings in heavy weather, and battered against the end of the slip. The veteran steamer was raised and repaired, but now, more than six years later, the litigation arising out of the accident is finally to be heard in U.S. Federal Court. The city of Milwaukee and the National Gypsum Company have sued each other, and a marine contractor is also involved. A towing firm was originally named in the suit but was let out of the action. Interestingly, E. M. FORD is presently laid up at Milwaukee, but her owner intends to put her back in service in 1986.
At last report, SAVIC, the former CLIFFS VICTORY, which arrived at Montreal on December 27 en route to a Taiwan scrapyard, was still lying in the Pointe aux Trembles anchorage, allegedly awaiting a load of scrap for her last voyage. She left the anchorage once, near the middle of January, to go to a bunkering dock at Montreal East, and then returned to anchor. At the time of this writing, there was no indication when SAVIC would load or get under way.
Ever so gradually, information is becoming available concerning the arrival overseas of some of the lakers which were sold to foreign breakers during the 1985 season. E. B. BARBER and SAGINAW BAY, which left Quebec City in tow on July l6th, are reported to have arrived safely at Vigo, Spain, on August 8th. GORDON C. LEITCH and R. BRUCE ANGUS arrived at Setubal, Portugal, on August 20th.
In the December and January issues, we commented at length upon the St. Louis-de-Gonzague Bridge affair, and the difficulties which it caused during the final month of Seaway navigation. We have since learned that, in addition to the McAllister tugs that were on the scene, the deep-sea tug CAPT. IOANNIS S. was brought up from Quebec City, and it was with her assistance that JALA GODAVARI was finally pulled free of the bridge on December 4th. The salty arrived at Montreal under her own power on December 9th, assisted by a McAllister tug. Repairs to her damage were immediately begun, and the work was completed before Christmas, but JALA GODAVARI was still tied up at Montreal through January, her egress from the system barred by arrest resulting from the litigation arising out of the bridge accident. It seems certain that JALA GODAVARI will spend the entire winter at her Montreal berth. (Incidentally, some reports have spelled the salty's name all as one word. We realize that the names of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company's vessels are normally spelled that way, but this particular ship carried the name on her hull as two distinct words, and we see no reason to spell it any other way in our reports.)
It is possible that, in the near future, the two cities of Sault Ste. Marie may once again be connected by a ferry service, something that has not existed in the area since the opening of the International Bridge in 1962. Studies have shown that residents of both sides of the river would favour reintroduction of a passenger ferry between the two cities, so as to avoid the circuitous drive necessary to make the bridge crossing. Planning consultants have recommended that a pilot ferry project be mounted in 1986 or 1987, perhaps using one of the local tour boats, if docking and customs facilities can be arranged. The last ferries to operate on the route across the St. Mary's River below the Soo Locks were AGOMING, JAMES W. CURRAN and JOHN A. McPHAIL, all of which were retired and sold after the opening of the bridge.
After several years of planning and construction, the new excursion vessel MACASSA BAY was launched at the foot of Hillyard Street in Hamilton on December 16, 1985. The two-deck ship, which will run excursions in the Hamilton area, was christened by Petra Boniferro, the daughter of Ernest Kablau, the vessel's owner and builder.
In the early days of December, the entire Great Lakes area was subjected to a violent windstorm, accompanied by dropping temperatures and, in some regions, blinding blizzards. The storm hit Toronto on Monday, December 2, and was so intense that the Toronto Island ferry service could not operate. (Ye Ed. was stranded in his Island home for the day, unable to go to work in the city, and we were thus able to devote the day to the preparation of the December "Scanner", despite the maelstrom on the bay just a short distance away.) However, some areas were hit much harder, the storm causing particular grief in the Lake Michigan area. At Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on the evening of December 1st, the winds tore EDGAR B. SPEER and STEWART J. CORT from their moorings at the shipyard, and it was only by dint of an all-night and all-next-day effort that local tugs, aided by the U.S. Coast Guard, managed to corral the wandering 1,000-footers and return them to their berths at Bay Shipbuilding. Superhuman efforts by tug and U.S.C.G. crews, aided by crewmembers from other ships in the area, prevented serious damage to either of the ships or to shore installations (including a bridge) which they might have hit, although the snowstorm made it difficult for the tug crews to get to their boats in order to begin rescue efforts. Meanwhile, at Ludington, Michigan, the storm tore the idle MWT carferry SPARTAN away from her moorings, and grounded her on the south shore of Pere Marquette Lake. The Canonie tugs MUSKEGON and SOUTH HAVEN worked on the stranded ferry through December 4, their job made more difficult by rapidly forming ice, but it was not until the early hours of December 5, when the MWT ferry CITY OF MIDLAND 41 added her power to the pull, that SPARTAN was released and returned to her berth. SPARTAN has been out of service for some six years, and although painted in MWT colours, she now serves no purpose other than to supply parts for her sistership BADGER when required. It seems unlikely that SPARTAN will ever again see active service, despite her purchase by MWT after the closing of the Chessie System ferry operation.
Plans for a carferry service between Muskegon, Michigan, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are progressing, but it now seems unlikely that VIKING, the ferry chosen for the route, will be in operation before 1987, despite hopes that the project could become operational in 1986. The Muskegon County Commissioners, the main promoters of the project, were able to secure financing from the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, from the city of Muskegon, and from their own county, but the terms of the loans are contingent upon a $400,000 contribution from the city of Milwaukee. That city has yet to make funds available, as a result of concerns that the ferry service would drain tourist dollars away into Michigan. It is to be hoped that the parties will be able to resolve their difficulties, and that the ferry service, now so near to becoming a reality, will actually begin in the foreseeable future.
The Twin City Dry Dock Company of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, was awarded a Corps of Engineers contract to repower the big gatelifter PAUL BUNYAN, which is a regular resident of the Soo area. The work, which is being put in hand this winter, will remove the BUNYAN's old steam-powered lifting equipment and replace it with more modern diesel machinery.
Although it had earlier been planned to keep the U.S. canal at Sault Ste. Marie open until January 4th, the locks actually closed at midnight, January 2nd. The amount of traffic remaining in operation was not sufficient to keep the canal open any longer, and ice conditions were becoming a problem, C.C.G.S. SAMUEL RISLEY having been brought to the Soo to break ice for vessels trading into the Algoma Steel plant. The last ship through the Soo canal was ALGOPORT, which locked upbound late on the night of January 1st. The last downbound lockage, also on January 1st, was made by JOHN B. AIRD.
The 60-foot steel-hulled fishtug SEARCHER was overcome by heavy seas and sank in Lake Michigan, some seventeen miles out from Chicago, on December 27th. U.S. Coast Guard rescuers managed to pick three nearly-frozen survivors out of the water, but three others were lost when the vessel foundered.
C.C.G.S. VERENDRYE, the 120-foot buoy tender which has been stationed at the Canadian Soo for the past eleven years, was retired from service in December. VERENDRYE, which was built in 1959 at Lauzon, Quebec, will be replaced at the Soo by the much smaller (75 feet) tender CARIBOU ISLE. Meanwhile, an Oshawa group, which calls itself Heaven Bound Ministries, is attempting to acquire VERENDRYE for use in its efforts to assist troubled teenagers, who would learn to sail VERENDRYE around Lake Ontario as part of their activities.
In the last issue, we commented on the sale by Canada Steamship Lines of its elevator at Kingston, Ontario. We now learn that the developer who wants to convert the site into a complex of condominiums, a hotel, restaurant and marina, is Peter Liappas, president of 548676 Ontario Ltd. C.S.L. is reported to have accepted a conditional offer of purchase, and the deal is to close by the end of May. The new owner must obtain approval for zoning changes for the land and water areas involved, and must also convince the city to provide municipal services (such as water and sewers) to the area before any development can take place. Meanwhile, the elevator is still operating. An interesting grain cargo that arrived there in the last week of December was brought in by the Misener steamer JOHN A. FRANCE, which originally was bound down the Seaway with the cargo. The FRANCE, however, was due to lay up in Hamilton for winter maintenance work, and when it became evident that the ship would not have time to get down the canals, unload, and return upbound before the system closed, it was decided that she would drop her cargo at Kingston.
We continue to receive reports to the effect that the Amoco Oil Company has renamed its tug AMOCO MICHIGAN and barge AMOCO GREAT LAKES, which have operated together since their construction by the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation at Sturgeon Bay in 1982. It is said that, in mid-November, the tug was renamed (b) MICHIGAN, while the barge became (b) GREAT LAKES. We have not heard from anyone who has seen the vessels carrying these shortened names, and we would be most grateful to receive confirmation of the changes.
It is interesting to note that the Hanna 1,000-foot self-unloader GEORGE A. STINSON is wintering at Toledo this year, instead of in her usual berth at Ecorse. No doubt this has something to do with the fact that the STINSON will be operating under new colours in 1986. We will have more to say on this subject once additional details are definite.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.