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I’ve done so many Grouper posts over the years that I should  recap.  The photos you see below show a tugboat called Green Bay, which was built in Cleveland OH in 1912 as Gary.    Here are the subsequent renamings of Gary:  Green Bay 1934, Oneida 1981, Iroquois 1987, Alaska 1990, and finally Grouper 1998.  Today, Grouper languishes in the Erie Canal near Lock E-28A, a good 325 miles from the sixth boro.   Many folks would love to see it resurrect with the name Grouper or some other one.

I’ve gotten lots of email about Grouper, but I really like messages like this one I got last weekend from Jeff Gylland:

“I rode Grouper as a kid all the time.  My Grandfather, Lester Gamble,  was the captain of then tug Green Bay out of Manitowoc, WI.  Have many memories of strong coffee and even stronger language.  The boat was converted from coal to diesel in the 1950s.  I have many pictures if you are interested.  Would love to come to Lyons with 50 gallons of paint and put the old Green, White and Red in the correct places.”

So I wrote Jeff, told him what I knew, and a bit later got another email, this one from Jeff’s aunt, Deborah Wiegand:

“I see my nephew Jeff contacted you and already sent some of our photos.  I have a collection ( maybe 20+) of professionally taken photos of the Green Bay taken during the years 1953-69 when my dad Lester R. Gamble was her captain.

The family had thought the tug had been scrapped until a historical blog based in Manitowoc came up with the information on her decline and current situation and brought it to my attention. It is heart-breaking to us.  Both Jeff and I regularly rode along with Dad on tows and have many stories & good memories to share of her.  Please let us know how we can help. Don’t hesitate to call me is you want to chat.”
I believe City of Midland 41, below, was converted into a barge which began operating as Pere Marquette 41 in 1998.  Ah, the circle of life.


Here Green Bay moves the Great Lakes steamer SS South American, built 1913, which some readers may recall seeing in the Delaware River as late as 1992.


Edward L. Ryerson is a beautiful bulk carrier, launched in 1960,  still operating on the Great Lakes.


Note the ice on the harbor here.


Here Green Bay fights a fire in 1952.


Many thanks to Deborah and Jeff for these fabulous photos.  It is my hope that Green Bay, Grouper, et al  .  . is brought out of its stupor in Lyons and finds yet another life.


To close out April, here (and at the end of this post) a photo of Grouper in Lyons a few weeks ago before the Canal was brought up to level and opened for traffic.  Thanks to Bob Stopper.


How lucky can some people get!?@#!  Bowsprite caught this photo last fall as she was leaving New London harbor.  The tugboat is John P. Wronowski.


From Maraki, it’s Heidi eastbound past cow pastures and


fleetmate Rikki S westbound.


How’s this for an unnamed push boat . . . the one that moves


Martha Lewis when needed, and when no longer needed because the skipjack is under sail, just gets hauled up on davits.    I guess technically this prime mover is not a tugboat, she is a push boat.   Here’s a youtube of Martha Lewis getting trucked away, sans push boat, for repairs.  Anyone have updates on her getting into the water this season?  Click here (and scroll) for a photo of Silk, the push boat dedicated to skipjack Stanley Norman.


And from my visit to Chelsea Creek last week, here’s another shot of (for me) the unidentified small tug, and


in gloucester, it’s  Mikey D with Horizon looking over the stern.


Closing this post out, it’s looking eastbound across Grouper‘s bow.  I’ve said it for years and will say it again, I hope some one takes this project on.



Thanks to Bob, bowsprite, and Maraki for these photos of really random aka sundry set of tugboats.

I’m trying to catch up with the photos you all have been good enough to share on tugster.  The first five here come from some salts up on the Caloosahatchee Canal in Florida.  John Parrish was westbound here, but a week later it showed up in the sixth boro, and by publication of this post, it’s already back to Norfolk.   That’s some sea miles.  Here are some of my previous photos of John Parrish.


Also, westbound in that Canal, it’s Brittany Beyel.  She’s Beyel Brothers equipment, who have a dramatic photo on that link.


This one’s eastbound on the Canal with a crane.  I can’t quite make out the name, but the the steersman has great visibility.


Boomalong was getting hauled out.  Her fine lines made me think she has a storied past, and it turns out she does.  She began life in 1944 in Owen Sound, ON as HMCS Neville, HMCS being Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship.   She’s a Russel Brothers boat that has been around, currently quite far from


Sault Ste. Marie.


Thanks to Jed, who previously contributed many photos, here’s a photo and text:  “it’s Stephanie S (1986) returning to Port Canaveral after escorting the bulk carrier VENTURE out of the port.”

photo date 11 MARCH 2016

photo date 11 MARCH 2016

From Birk Thomas, it’s Barents Sea, now over in Port Newark, having moved for the first time in at least five years.  She looks rough, but I’m hoping there’s a make-over in the works for her.   If she moves again, I’d love to see some photos.




Here’s my photo of W. O. Decker, docked at Caddell Dry Dock, being worked on  . . . or waiting for Wavertree to make her promenade back to South Street.


From Jason LaDue, here’s a good view of the underbelly of Grouper, frequently referred to in this blog.  Such belly will be visible until the pool level of the Erie Canal is brought back up for the start of the season.  Jason’s also a frequent contributor.


Now here’s an oldie but goodie from the other JED.  It shows Labrador Sea and Taurus, significant because now that Taurus is being phased out, Labrador Sea–which had worked on the Mississippi and Gulf for the past few years, has moved back up here into Taurus‘ place, I’m told.   And they’re in K-Sea colors.


And I said “and more” in the title?  Here’s the more, a new dock book from Tony Acabono.  If it’s your business to know where berth 60 is in Port Elizabeth in relation to berth 61 in Port Newark, you might want to check it out.

Many thanks to the secrets salts and the not-so-secret ones for sending along these photos.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the years, many of you have inquired about her availability.  Vessel IS now available, and the owner wants to move fast.  Serious inquiries only, please.  She is NOT mine, but I will pass along needed info.

Send me an email:  parrotlect at gmail dot com


This is the series for photos from all over.

First, from Bob Stopper, who makes it his business to –among other things–document Erie Canal life up in the  county where I grew up, it’s  . . . can you guess what’s under all that snow?


It’s a hibernating Grouper.  I’ve done more than two dozen posts on this boat, which I keep hoping comes back to life.   Here’s a post that shows her working on the big lakes, the northern coast of the USA.


And from the Maraki crew currently getting their passports stamped in the Conch Republic . . .  some Stock Island residents . . . like Robert W. Tomlinson (ex-YT-399 Numa) and


Dutch tug turned yacht Itinerante (ex-Havendienst 1, Vulcanus).


Here’s one of my photos:  that’s Iver Foss tailing the big ZPMC Shanghai-built crane as RORO Hoegh Shanghai follows them in through the Narrows last week.


Some photos from Brian DeForest . . . Joyce D. Brown delivering a crane barge as


RORO Don Juan rolls some vehicles off and some others on over in Port Newark.


Here’s are two photos lacking a photographer both showing Tradewind Towing Rachel powering USS SS Mount Washington AOT-5076 on its final voyage.  The photo below I screen-grabbed from the Crystal Serenity, which is now off Japan.   Mount Washington is at the scrapyard and Rachel is preparing for the next job.


This photo comes from the Gatun Locks webcam.


Bowsprite caught these three last week:  apparent L to R, Arabian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Patricia in Red Hook.


Thanks to Bob, Lucy my sister, Franco for standing in the cold with me at the Narrows, Brian, bowsprite, and the remote cameras for these photos.

I like collaboration.  Number nine was a week and a half ago, but I do appreciate fotos like the ones here.

Ken of Michigan Exposures took this one up in Bay City, MI, a hundred plus miles northwest of Detroit.  Any guesses on the vintage of this attractive tug . . .55′ loa x 12′ ?  Answer follows.

Staying with vintage Great Lakes tugs, this foto comes from Jason LaDue, who recently sent these fotos from upstate.  The foto below was taken in Oswego, NY, in late 1998.  Three tugs had been sold south by Great Lakes Towing.  The tugs below are from RIGHT to left, Gull (1952 ex-Jennifer George, Galway Bay, Oregon), Sea Tractor (1951 ex-Messenger, Patricia Hoey, New Hampshire) and the one I’ve called Grouper, whose entire saga you can find by using the blog search window to the left.  Gull and Sea Tractor were both built in Louisiana at Alexander Shipyards.

At this point these fotos were taken in December 1998, all three tugs were headed south, but Grouper has never left the Erie Canal yet . . . in the past 13 years.  Did anyone catch Gull and Sea Tractor coming through the sixth boro in early 1999?

Here’s Gull working the icy Great Lakes as Gaelic’Galway Bay, and

Sea Tractor in the same green as Patricia Hoey. Note the wheelhouse design of Patricia.

When these tugs had first come to the Great Lakes, via the Mississippi/Chicago River, they looked different.  Tug on the far right is Messenger, before becoming Patricia.

Which brings us to the present.  I’m told that Gull was scrapped last year in Virginia/Philly (?) as American Pride.  Anyone have other fotos?  Here are two by shipjohn.  Thanks, shipjohn.

And Sea Tractor (then called Shark) was reefed a year and a half ago near Miami’s Haulover Artificial Reef site in September 2010.  I’d LOVE to see fotos of her in her last years, maybe even of the scuttling.  Anyone help?    Here’s a poor quality foto of  Shark being hauled out to be reefed in 255′ of water.

No news currently on Grouper in Lyons, NY, but I wish the restoration of the 100-year old tug success.

Thanks much to Jason and Ken for these fotos.

Jill Marie, 121 years old!!  Built 1891.

Thanks to Jason . . . first two fotos by Franz Von Riedel.  During the early 1980s, the North American Towing Company bought the Green Bay, renamed her the Oneida and moved her to Duluth, Minnesota.  This foto comes from her time working the Twin Ports (smoking away) until roughly 1987, when

Wellington Towing purchased her for work around Sault Ste Marie.  Great Lakes Towing bought out Wellington Towing about 1990 with the tug going to Cleveland as the Alaska.  This is a 1998 Alaska foto by Franz.

Here she was in Lyons in 2000, foto by Jason LaRue.

At this moment , November 2011 she awaits her one-century mark in Lyons, NY.   As the crow flies, she’s only a dozen miles from Lake Ontario.

I’m hoping the Kahlenberg fires up soon.  I’m routing for you.

Bottom two fotos taken yesterday, November 28.

More Detroit fotos soon.

Next week I might pass through the Erie Canal town of Lyons, NY, where Grouper again appears forgotten, bereft of a future.  Last spring had brought some hope, but  . . .

These fotos come from Jason LaDue, who knew her while he was growing up in the vicinity of the Soo.  Foto below by Troy Wilke.  Jason writes, “That rare (and large) Kahlenberg smoked like no other but always delivered the power.  I was onboard her several times when moving saltwater vessels to and from the Algoma Steel facility in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.”

Next year 2012, Grouper has a one CENTURY anniversary, 100 years of life, the last decade and a half of which she seems in a coma.   Here was my original Grouper post, followed by 67 comments!

These fotos by R LaDue show what spirit this vessel had as Iroquois

in the Soo Tug Race, 1989. 

Many thanks, Jason.  I plan to use more of your fotos soon.

Transitioning from the “farm tugs” post, enjoy Governor Roosevelt, sister of Governor Cleveland,  both came to the canal to  break ice and do other tasks in 1927 as steam tugs.   If you add the ages of Governor Roosevelt, Governor Cleveland, and Urger . . . you have almost three hundred years of boat work.   I found Roosevelt hauled out last weekend along the Erie Canal in Lyons.

Edna (1997) was hauled out for some work recently along

the KVK.

Here’s a first sighting:  Coney Island, built by

Blount in 1958.  Here’s George (a 2009 vessel with a simple name)  taken recently in Lake Charles, LA.

And (once again . . . might she be languishing?) Grouper, a year away from a century old.  This is how she looked last weekend, and I’d love to hear an update on efforts to bring her back to life, lest she become HMS (heavy melt steel).

George foto comes thanks to eastriver;  all others by Will Van Dorp.

A quick and dirty post on the 1912 tug formerly known as Grouper.  New name will be forthcoming.  The following four fotos show the removal of the DRXC Hercules diesel, which runs the generator and would, among other things, run the compressor to fill the air tanks.  Note the electrical board to the left.  This foto looks forward on the starboard side.

Tough work . . .  looking aft.

The owner Marc is looking for a parts engine.

This engine is headed for a shop.

Electrical board . . .


More updates to follow.

Completely unrelated but some fotos of a vessel that newly acquired a whole new legacy:  CVN-70 appeared on tugster here in December 2010.

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