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See the ice?  The chunks are out there.

The Ashtabula Light had keepers until 1973, making it the last manned lighthouse on Lake Erie.  People staffing the light did not always have a comfortable existence:  in 1927 it was struck by a ship, and a year later, two keepers had to chip their way through five feet of ice after an intense ice storm passed.  Now, it appears to need some paint.

This sign caught my attention, but it’s possible the pub is open only in summer.  I followed the arrow and

located $onny II. She was built in 1959 and apparently as a bum boat, although her appearance is similar to fish tugs.  I don’t know how often she sails, but I suspect the days of bum boats

have passed, at least in the US though not elsewhere.  That is not to say bum boats can’t be converted to yachts, as is the case with a boat previously serving Twin Ports (Duluth-Superior) and now in the sixth boro  by the name Memory Motel.

If I decide that tugster needs a waterborne headquarters, I can call this number.  Anyone want to invest with me?

Before this house became $onny II‘s annex, I’m guessing it was the sturdy shelter of proud Great Lakes mariners. Anyone know the previous life before it became a prop for a mercury vapor lamp and a Pepsi sign?

Back in August, I saw the lighthouse from the opposite side.

And not knowing much about the town, I wondered why this Wagenborg vessel was there behind the piles of earth.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, in either February or August.   Now if you find yourself in Ashtabula and the Bum Boat Pub is closed, make your way to the Harbor Perk.  It has truly good coffee and friendly atmosphere, and I’m not paid to say that.

Unrelated:  Does anyone know what became of the Ohio River’s music barge called Point Counterpoint?


“one of the toughest ports in the world, sharing that distinction with Shanghai and Calcutta . . .”  I believe that’s “tough” as quantified in black eyes, missing teeth, and blood spat out onto the gravel.  I wonder who had the breadth of experience to render this judgement.  Why would such ports as Rio, Murmansk, and Oswego not be included . . . or others?

Besides that, those few sentences render a great description of mechanization.

Mississagi is wintering over here in Ashtabula. She’s appeared on this blog a half dozen times . . . working.   I’m coming home is Norfolk Southern’s mantra.

I believe this archway is a coal conveyor belt.

That’s all you get of GL tug Rhode Island.  Mississagi (1943) is only a year younger than Alpena.  But Rhode Island dates from 1930.   The white tug in front of it is Nancy Anne. based in Cheboygan, MI.

A bit farther east in Ashtabula, Calumet winters over.  Previous posts including Calumet can be found here.

and off its stern, it’s the upper portion of tug Olive L. Moore (hull launched in 1928) and barge Menominee.  I caught them on Lake Huron in August 2017.

If you wanted to start reading that historical marker from side one, here it is, then if you want, you can go back to the beginning and read that in proper context.  If you want the short history of Ashtabula, click here for a review of a good book.  If you want the juicy details or at least the gritty ones, buy Carl E. Feather’s Ashtabula Harbor:  A History of the world’s Greatest Iron Ore Receiving Port.  My copy is on order.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Maybe you saw this in yesterday’s post and wondered why I hadn’t commented.  Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder have appeared on this blog before.

Soon after I got these photos, they departed to Cleveland to discharge a load–as I understand it– that

had been in the hold since last year.  Ice had moved in so quickly that the unit was prevented from offloading.  I don’t know how much ore (?) was in the barge;  her capacity is 21,260 tons.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Not to belabor the point, but I wanted to see this scene with ice, and expected to, given this was taken in late February and the fishermen have already put away their ice drills.

Ahead of the former fixture in the sixth boro, then called Bear and now Elizabeth Anna, it’s the huge Joyce L. Van Enkevort, launched 21 years ago.

Joyce L. is a 10,000 hp tug with dimensions of 135′ x 50.’


Joyce L. is mated to Great Lakes Trader, launched in Louisiana in 2001.  The barge has capacity of 39,600 tons, 66% greater than that of Edmund Fitzgerald.


The Old Rite Russian Orthodox church in the background is Church of the Nativity. 

I can’t wait to see these two units mated and  . . . great lakes’ trading.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

The port of Erie is protected behind an “almost island” called Presque Isle, pronounced in French to rhyme with “wheel.”  Click on the map to interact with it.

So guess which “laker” was behind Presque Isle the other day?  Presque Isle, of course, and that’s the name of both the tug and barge.  Both parts date from the early 1970s but were built in different locations . . . Louisiana and Michigan.  Does that mean the tug made the saltwater journey to Michigan solo?  I caught her here in Port Weller last summer.


Over in the distance, the land is inner side of the peninsula of Presque Isle.

St Clair was also in port, tied up here to the DonJon pier.

I finally got a closeup of one of the more interesting “second lives” vessels” I’ve ever seen:  a 1945 YO-178 tanker, sold out of government service in 1953,  converted to a trailing suction hopper dredge!  J. S. St. John started life in Pensacola.

To see her underway, check out this video.  for lots of news and photos from Erie, check out Erie Shipping News.

All photos here by Will Van Dorp, last week.


To repeat what I said yesterday, this was supposed to be a visit to get photos of tugs and ships in ice.  The Cuyahoga may be quite cold, but no ice . . . .

This shot is taken from the Carter Road Bridge looking toward Collision Bend and the bug venues.

Under the Rte 2 Bridge, Alpena awaits her 76th season!  She makes me feel young!

In resplendent light last summer late, I caught her heading northbound mid-Lake Huron.

Again, I imagined ice;  two weeks earlier and I likely would have seen it.

The yellow of the water makes more vivid the yellow of her hull.

Some crew is maintaining boiler pressure.

And when the season begins, Alpena will back out of this dock on the old river, turn to port and head back to work for her 76th season.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who looks forward to seeing her steaming on the Lakes again this summer.

Previous Cleveland posts on tugster include this and this with laker Buffalo,  and this with–among other things–Iowa towing Sea Eagle II up the Cuyahoga.   There are others also if you just use the search window.


I’d planned a gallivant along the coast of Lake Erie to see ice, maybe even walk and fish on it, as I did many decades ago.  February would normally be a good time for that, but my actual schedule depended on someone else, my son.  Well . . . I was told that a week earlier, ice fishing was happening here . . .  Click on the map below to make it interactive.

Huron OH?  I admit never having heard of it.  It’s just east of Sandusky, which I saw here, and roughly between *7 and *8, posts on the Great Coast that I did last fall.

This two-part panorama (above and below) shows the turning basin near the mouth of the Huron River, which might be fun to canoe one of these years.

I use AIS to determine which roads I take on a gallivant like this, and this surely is not the green icon I saw, but I’m thrilled the icon led me here.  Adam E. Cornelius is not as old as it looks–launched 1973–and I’ve no idea what her fate will be.  And she’s Toledo’s pride.


One of these years, I hope to see her, under this name or another, back hauling Great Lakes minerals around our Great Coast.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.  And that green icon that led me here, I’m guessing it was either R/V Kiyi or R/V Kaho.  anyone help?  Chain link stood in the way of my getting any reasonable picture.

For the many previous “port of” posts on tugster, click here and scroll.


Canso Canal separates the Nova Scotia mainland from Cape Breton Island, lying between Northumberland Strait to the north and Chedabucto Bay to the south.  And it’s a great place to watch traffic between eastern USA and the Great Lakes.  Jack Ronalds pays attention to that traffic, and is always eager to accept paying photo commissions, he tells me.

Right around Christmas, he caught Millville and 1964,  beautiful winter light bathing newly painted steel.  Millville and barge came off the ways in Sturgeon Bay WI this fall, and is currently passing the Florida Keys on a run to a Texas port.


Notice the traffic backed up on the causeway.  For a very comprehensive slideshow of 450 images compiled by the Gut of Canso Museum, click here.  For more on Port Hastings on the east side of the Canso Canal, click here.

Note the pilot boat on the far side.

According to tugboat, she 129.9′ x 41.9′ using two GE 12V250MDC8s for a total of 8000 hp to push the 578′ loa, 180,000 bbl barge 1964.

Many thanks to Jack for permission to post these photos.  I’m definitely looking to get up there this coming summer.


Twin Cities tug North Carolina (1952)  breaking ice.  Next two photo thanks to Paul Scinocca on FB.    As I said yesterday, fresh water reacts differenttly than salt water to extreme temperatures.

American Mariner in Twin Cities Ports (Duluth MN and Superior WI)  harbor on what has to be the last run of the season.  Thanks again to Paul.  Here’s more on recent temperatures in the Twin Ports.  Click here for photos I took in Twin Ports a half year ago.

And here, from the FB group Erie Shipping News, a photo (l to r)  of tug New York (and Dorothy Ann and Elizabeth Anna) from December in Erie PA,

and from a few days ago . . .  .  Here’s more on recent weather in Erie. GL tug New York is over 100 years old.

Thanks to the folks at Erie Shipping News and Paul Scinocca in Duluth for this glimpse of early January elsewhere.

New York Power Authority, the parent organization to the Erie Canal, pays close attention to the temperature of Lake Erie.  The magic number is 39 degrees in the fall.  Why?

When that happens, Breaker and

other equipment such as Havasu II and Daniel Joncaire

start moving those rust-brown, sausage-looking objects on the bank.

Here’s a better look at those objects, floats I’ll call them.

I believe at least one new tug is now being used, although it was docked elsewhere and a photo follows.

Here you see more of the floats beyond Washington and Vermont,  launched in 1925 and 1914 respectively.

This aerial photo by Derek Gee for the Buffalo News shows those structures as an abstract pattern in summer bank storage, waiting for the temperature of the water to drop to 39.  To get the complete source and read the story, click on the photo itself.

Credit for the photo above to Derek Gee;  all others by Will Van Dorp.

Click here and  here to see installation of the ice boom on the upper Niagara River.

Above and below, this is Daniel Joncaire II, the newest NYPA tug, I believe.

And where does the Joncaire name come from?  Check here.



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