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Grouper . . . that’s likely a quite familiar name to anyone who’s followed this blog a while, given all the posts dedicated to this 1912 vessel that’s spent two decades or so not far from where I grew up, 350 miles away from the sixth boro, which she intended to transit but was prevented by shallows from doing that.  Had she transited the harbor and headed south to sea two decades ago, no doubt she’d already have been reefed, as happened with her traveling companions.  Instead she languished in the canal, prompting many folks up there to imagine a future for the Great Lakes vessel with such sweet lines.  But first a bit of her history and all her previous names

I’m told she’s currently really being prepped for the scrappers’ jaws.  Along with imagining lots of different futures, folks have also imagined these jaws were imminent many times before.  Maybe it will happen this time, but first,  let’s imagine a rescuer coming in to save her.  Her appointment with the scrapper gets cancelled, if not permanently, then at least there’s a reprieve. 

The rescuer arrives with tugboat Virginia and a plan:  the 1912 tug will be towed 

out the western route to Buffalo and then deeper water, waters where she worked from back in 1912. 

In this revery, rescue is tentative at first . . .

with misgivings about their prospects,

But little by little, 

the ability to visualize the Great Lakes begins to take hold. 

There is sunshine, and if no parades and marching bands, then at least a few folks with cameras marking her liberation. 

Virginia is unstoppable, clearing one lock after another, rising up toward the level of the Great Lakes. 

She makes Fairport come and go . . . as they head west. 

But as in a twilight zone . . . froth and momentum 

suddenly comes to an end and she grounds,  stuck on a shoal, unable to be pulled any farther.  Now she’s cut off from deeper water to the west just as she’s cut off east.

This all happened a little over a decade ago.  I can just imagine the thrill of victory leading up to this painful moment.

Many thanks to Larry Bolanowski for sending along these photos of what almost succeeded.  Imagine if she’d made it back west . . . .  Imagine that Kahlenberg purring happily . . .

 

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