The little Dutch jumboship GABRIELLA, which went through such a rough time in the North Atlantic off Cape Race on October 19th, at which time thirteen of her crew of fifteen were lost, finally arrived at Toronto on November 12 to take on her load (her third of the year) of railway locomotives destined for Algiers. GABRIELLA looked none the worse for her tragic misadventure and remained in port for six days.
We have a report that the National Steel Corporation's 1000-foot self-unloader under construction by the American Shipbuilding Company will be named GEORGE A. STINSON. The keel of the midbody section of the ship was laid at AmShip's Toledo yard on October 2nd as Hull 907. She will be completed at the Lorain shipyard following immediately behind Hull 906 which is a 1000-foot self-unloader for the Interlake Steamship Company, a sistership to JAMES R. BARKER.
The Reoch self-unloader ERINDALE, which during October was laid up at Hamilton for engine repairs, has now been reactivated for the remainder of the season. The engine work was completed in less time than was originally expected and, in addition, the quality of the steamer's accommodations has been considerably upgraded.
Last month we reported that the former St. Lawrence River ferry LAVIOLETTE arrived at Port Weller on September 29 for drydocking. She was given the necessary survey and inspection and on October 9th was towed up the St. Clair River to her new home at Sarnia behind the Hamilton tug LAC MANITOBA. At Sarnia, the finishing touches will be put to the job of converting the old steamer for use in the excursion trade. We have heard that the vessel's new owner, Capt. Al. Avery of Mooretown (a town on the Canadian side of the St. Clair River below Sarnia), intends to rename her BLUEWATER BELLE. We sincerely wish the steamer the best of luck in her new trade; any boat that has wandered so far from the lakes, hit the skids on the American east coast and then gone through a two-year journey back to fresh water in agonizingly slow steps, deserves some good fortune.
The Columbia Transportation Division steamer SYLVANIA went back into service this autumn, apparently none the worse for the fire damage which she suffered in her cargo hold while laid up at Lorain this summer awaiting a repair berth at the AmShip yard. What damage there was has since been repaired and the vessel is reportedly in very good condition for a ship of her advanced years (she is now 71). Her owners expect to be able to operate the self-unloader for at least four more years, barring any unforeseen problems. SYLVANIA normally operates on the Toledo - Detroit coal run.
The tanker TEXACO WARRIOR, making a rather rare visit to the lakes (she normally stays on the St. Lawrence River), was involved in a somewhat messy accident at Port Huron on October 20th. The WARRIOR had been docked at the Imperial Oil wharf in Sarnia and was intending to shift downstream to the Sun Oil dock. This move entailed heading the ship upstream and turning her on a port wheel to proceed downriver. The tanker apparently got caught in the river current and swung all the way across the river, striking the Grand Trunk carferry dock in Port Huron. TEXACO WARRIOR did some damage to her port bow but the dock was the main victim as it sustained damage amounting to about $200,000 and was expected to be out of service for approximately six weeks. The accident sounds remarkably similar to the 1967 mixup wherein RENVOYLE attempted to clear the C.N.R. dock in the Huron Cut, turn on a port wheel and head downstream. She didn't, but instead swung right across the channel, ramming and sinking SYLVANIA which was moored at the Peerless Cement dock. It was as a result of that accident that the Coast Guard instituted the requirement that ships not turn in the Huron Cut but rather head out into Lake Huron to turn. Perhaps that regulation should be extended to cover ships moored at any of the docks along the shore of the "Chemical Valley". Quite frankly, we cannot understand how this latest accident could have happened. While the river is very narrow at the Huron Cut, it is extremely wide where TEXACO WARRIOR came to grief and we are led to wonder whether a certain amount of inattention on the bridge might have contributed to the mishap.
The scrappers at Thunder Bay have gradually nibbled away at the old steamer RUTH HINDMAN to the point where, we understand, only a few feet of her hull above the waterline remain intact. Granted, we would have liked to have been able to take a photo of her during scrapping and we wouldn't have passed up a chance to secure some artifact from her for the collection, but we just could not have watched such a grand old lady slowly disappearing under the torch. We're glad that we were not there to watch.
Meanwhile, also at Thunder Bay, the wreckers have begun the attack upon NATIONAL TRADER, thus turning into so much wishful thinking our personal prediction that the steamer would not likely be scrapped but rather would be sold for further operation. Would that it were so, for NATIONAL TRADER was far too good to be scrapped and, unlike RUTH HINDMAN which had reached the end of her tether, should have had many more good years left in her. It is reported that her forward cabins have already been removed.
Nipigon Transport Ltd., Montreal, which operates LAKE WINNIPEG and LAKE MANITOBA, has purchased another vessel for its fleet. The latest acquisition is the British motorvessel TEMPLE BAR which is due to make her first voyage into the lakes next summer. Over the winter months, TEMPLE BAR will be converted at Singapore for her entry into lake service. We have yet to hear the details of her conversion, but we imagine that she will retain the appearance of a "salty" in order to enable her to operate on salt water during the winter months. TEMPLE BAR, which ventured up the Seaway last year, will be renamed LAKE NIPIGON by her new owners.
Ever since the beginning of the current spate of vessel lengthenings, observers have been speculating on which vessels will receive the stretching treatment. Almost always excluded from such speculation have been the ships of the Ford Motor Company since it has generally been considered that a stretched laker could never make it up the River Rouge to Ford's Detroit plant. But now that theory has gone up in smoke, for recently the Cleveland-Cliffs steamer EDWARD B. GREENE, a healthy 767 feet in length overall, safely made the trip up the River Rouge to the Ford plant with a cargo of iron ore. Accordingly, we have it on the best of authority that we should watch for the early lengthening of WILLIAM CLAY FORD, JOHN DYKSTRA and ERNEST R. BREECH. These steamers are amongst the busiest on the lakes and seldom unload anywhere but at the Rouge, so it is understandable that FORD would take advantage of the opportunity to increase their carrying capacity per trip.
We normally do not report personal items in these pages hut we do make the odd exception. One is due in this case as we report the death of Capt. George E. Matheson of Marathon, Ontario. Capt Matheson died in early October on board his ship, the canal-sized motorvessel D. C. EVEREST. What is remarkable about this is that Capt Matheson had commanded the EVEREST ever since she was built in 1952. She has always been a pretty ship, this being due principally to the fact that she is always kept in immaculate condition, a great credit to her late master.
In our last issue we mentioned the purchase by the Erie Sand Steamship Company of the self-unloading cement carrier ATLAS TRAVELER for the Lake Ontario cement trade. She arrived at Charlotte (Rochester) in early November and the work to ready her for her new role was put in hand, this work consisting mainly of adapting her to suit shoreside facilities at Picton and Charlotte. ATLAS TRAVELER attempted to leave port on November 19 for her first cross-lake run but had to turn back with engine difficulties and was still at her berth as of November 22nd. When she arrived from the coast, ATLAS TRAVELER had a black hull and white cabins, while her funnel was white with a very narrow black band and the United States Steel Corporation's insignia. We have not as yet seen the ship for ourselves, but we understand that she looks somewhat like the Shell tanker ARCTIC TRADER.
Meanwhile, ATLAS TRAVELER's predecessor on the Picton - Charlotte run, the little motorship PEERLESS, has been sold to Venezuelan operators. As of November 22, she was all fitted out for her delivery voyage and was expected to leave Charlotte imminently. Although she was flying a new flag, there was no observable change in name or port of registry.
As diving becomes more and more popular, the long-lost wrecks of the Great Lakes are one by one being located. Seems that late in September, four divers from Wisconsin were searching the floor of Lake Huron for the Norwegian steamer VIATOR which had been lost in 1935 by collision. Instead, they found a wreck that had been there twenty-two years longer and whose whereabouts had been a mystery for more than six decades. The wreck they located was that of the 504-foot steamer ISAAC M. SCOTT which was built in 1909 at Lorain for the Virginia Steamship Company (the M. A. Hanna Company, managers) and lost on Lake Huron in the Great Storm of November 1913. The SCOTT is lying upside down in about 175 feet of water, some seven miles off Thunder Bay Island. The divers were unable to examine the hull closely enough to determine the reason for the sinking of the steamer but they will be returning next summer and no doubt in due course we will find out what happened to ISAAC M. SCOTT in that storm of 63 years ago.
The motorvessel INLAND SEAS, latterly owned by Lee Marine Ltd. of Port Lambton, Ontario, left her St. Clair River home of the last few years on September 28th bound for New London, Connecticut, where she will serve as a private yacht. Prior to her acquisition by Lee Marine several years ago, the boat had served as a ferry to Isle Royale and as an oceanographic research vessel.
Cleveland Tankers Inc., which over the last few years has disposed of all of the older vessels in its fleet with the exception of POLARIS, a former L.S.T., has once again gone to an off-lakes shipyard for the construction of a new ship. The company has contracted with a shipyard at Orange, Texas, for the construction of a tanker scheduled for 1978 delivery. It is our understanding that she will not look like the two newest Cleveland Tankers units, the glorified barges SATURN and JUPITER, but what this statement is intended to mean, we do not know. There exists, we suppose, the possibility that she might look even worse....
Eder Barge and Towing Inc., Milwaukee, has decided to station one of its tugs at the Michigan Soo in order to be able to participate in local towing and rescue work, a field that in recent years has been all but left to the McLean tugs from the Ontario Soo. The tug to be posted to the Soo will be the former Roen Steamship Company tug JOHN ROEN V, a 142-foot diesel of 2,000 h.p. which dates back to 1898 but which was rebuilt in 1951. JOHN ROEN V will make her home in the old Carbide Dock on Portage Avenue east of the Edison Sault hydro generating plant. She will be commanded by Captains James and John Wellington, long-time friends of this Society, who formerly owned and operated the Soo ferry SUGAR ISLANDER, and who have recently worked for Eder aboard both JOHN ROEN V and JOHN PURVES. John Wellington is also regular master of the Soo tour boat LE VOYAGEUR. We wish the Wellingtons the best of luck with their new venture. The Michigan Soo has not had the benefit of regular tug service for the decade and a half which have passed since the Great Lakes Towing Company withdrew its vessels which were stationed there.
The Shell Canada tanker EASTERN SHELL got into a spot of trouble on November 18th when she ran aground on a sandbar in the St. Lawrence five miles below Trois Rivieres, Quebec. The vessel was holed and about 1,000 gallons of kerosene managed to escape into the river. Shell chartered the Branch Lines tanker EDOUARD SIMARD and she went to the aid of EASTERN SHELL, lightering off her cargo. Both vessels then proceeded back to Montreal the following day and when she was safely berthed, EASTERN SHELL was surrounded by an oil boom to prevent the fouling of the river which any more of her cargo escaping would have accomplished quite nicely. An unfortunate occurrence, but just think how much worse it would have been had her cargo been heavy bunker oil instead of kerosene....
Last issue, we mentioned some of the vessels currently lying at the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, amongst them being the former Kinsman Marine Transit Company steamer GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE. We reported on the modifications made to her deck and stern, but stated that her forward end appeared untouched. What we could not see from the aerial photograph was that a large door has been cut in her bow, a door large enough for trucks loaded with steel to be driven right in and onto the tanktop. The vessel's forecastle and forward cabins have not been touched, the cut for the upper edge of the door having been made just below the hawseholes. We wish to thank the several members who sent us photos of the SEEDHOUSE in her new role.
The first of the new Gulf Oil tankers built by Marine Industries Ltd. at Sorel, GULF GATINEAU, is now in service and trading on the east coast and St. Lawrence River. Meanwhile, one of our spies saw the second tanker, GULF MACKENZIE, at the fitting out berth at Sorel on November 20th. She was all fitted out and was undergoing machinery trials. It seems evident that she will have entered service by the time these words appear in print.
The same observer saw the barge PERE MARQUETTE 21 at Sorel on the same day, November 20. You say you thought she had been renamed ESGRAN when last we reported on the former carferry? Well, that's what we thought too! But even though earlier in the year she was boasting the name of ESGRAN and the port of registry of Panama, R.P., she is now PERE MARQUETTE 21 of Wilmington, Delaware. Your guess is as good as ours as to what is going on with the boat as we have yet to hear any official explanation for the name-juggling. When we find out, we'll let you know!
We would be remiss if we did not follow up on our comments in the last issue concerning the Toronto excursion boat CAYUGA II. Readers will recall that there was a problem in finding a way to have the boat drydocked for the winterizing of the seacocks, the problem being rendered more acute by the precarious financial position of the owners. Arrangements were finally made for CAYUGA II to be hauled out of the water at the Oshawa Marina and that is where she was at the time of this writing. Since the 1976 season had all the appearances of an absolute disaster for the boat, we are rather amazed that all indications at present point to CAYUGA II being back on the Bay in 1977. To be quite honest, we were really expecting to see her revert to her builders at the end of the past season.
The oldest of the diesel ferries operating regularly to Toronto Island, the 1935-built WILLIAM INGLIS, (a) SHAMROCK (II), is having much work done on her electrical system this winter. Apart from her repowering about a decade ago, this is one of the few major jobs ever done on the 91-foot double-ender. In addition to the rewiring, the INGLIS will be given hot air heating in her lower cabin and this will be a well-received benefit to Islanders who, in bad weather in the past, have spent many a frigid trip across the bay listening to their teeth chatter while waiting for a bit of warmth to be exuded by the radiator pipes running underneath the seats.
We have heard a report to the effect that PIERSON DAUGHTERS will be given a new forward cabin during the coming winter lay-up period. We have so far been unable to find out whether this means that she will receive a whole new bridge structure from forecastle up, or whether her cabin will just have a third deck added.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.