Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shipping for home

So on Monday, I headed for home after parting company with Aaron of The Shekel. Passing through Toledo, I spied the museum ship Col. John M. Schoonmaker tied up along the Maumee River and decided to stop to see it and the attached National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Alas, on arrival, I discovered that it was closed on Mondays. Sigh.

But I was in a mood to see a ship, dammit. And where there's a will...

I'd seen an old self-unloading bulk carrier wharfside a bit farther down Front Street, so I figured that I'd head over that way and see what I could see. Sure enough, there on the river's edge sat a classic lake freighter just begging for my attention.
Naturally there was a fence between the ship and I, but if the powers-that-be really didn't want me in there, they wouldn't have left it ajar, right?

So I accepted the invite. Camera in hand, I went closer.
Only real difference between a museum ship and a regular ship pierside is that museum ships have signs all over them for the tourists, right?
It's the SS Algorail, and I'm good without the signs. I've got my phone to look up her history so it doesn't take long to figure out that she was launched April 1, 1968, and that she's 640 feet long, 72 feet wide, and draws 40 feet when loaded with her full cargo capacity of 23,750 tons of whatever bulk cargo that they choose to load her with.
She's currently operated by Seaway Marine Transport and runs a varied schedule all over the Great Lakes. Her smaller size means that she can get into and out of places where today's larger freighters cannot fit.
Hmmm. Anchor's on the dock. Looks like she's not going anywhere anytime soon. That's one big anchor, too.
Gotta admit--the hull looks like dogshit. There used to be a time when no decent Great Lakes vessel would ever look this neglected, especially before the shipping season even gets started. But these are tough times for the Great akes fleets, and old Algorail here is lucky to still be in service and not beaing towed off to some foreign ship-breakers' yard like many other lake freighters already have been.
Men at work. And no one yelled at me to get the hell out, so I guess I can be here.
I approached another worker on the dock moments later and asked him what they were doing to the Algorail. He gave me a pretty good rundown of the repair work that they were doing on a few different tanks and her forward cargo hold. Sounds like Algorail is going to be seeing a few more seasons if they're spending that kind of cash on her. This is good, because these old lakers are classics and they don't make 'em like this any more.
Looking back along the worn, weathered hull. Being a freshwater ship, she could last forever if they'll take care of her.
My visit to Algorail was cut short by the sight of a man in a yelow vest who came rapidly out of the construction trailer down near the ship's stern. He seemed to be looking square at me and was walking with a purpose towards one of the company vehicles parked down there so I took that as my cue to find somewhere else to be. Pity that I didn't get a chance to actually get aboard for an hour or so, but I got my ship fix in nonetheless. And if they really didn't want me back there, all they had to do was lock the gate. Sheesh.

Bet it's locked today though.

More great Algorail shots on this site.

16 comments:

  1. Does the Chesapeake still tie up on Hains Point near 1100? If it's there they'll probably let you aboard.

    Alien

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    1. I don't know any ship of any size that ties up there.

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    2. My error. The Chesapeake is a lightship, previously owned by the USCG, owned by the US Park Service from about 1971 (which is probably why it was tied up at Hains Point when I saw it about 1978 or so) to the late '80s; Wikipedia says it was on loan to the City of Baltimore for 25 years, which should have ended in 1987. According to WP it's now a historic landmark belonging to the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

      It'd mean a trip to the harbor at Baltimore, but I'd guess you could still get on it. When I was on it (way back then, when the Park Service had it at HP) I had the run of the entire ship for over an hour.

      Alien

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    3. Oh yeah. Chesapeake. Toured it, but only the lame tour-approved spaces. There's much more to see, I'm sure.

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  2. Fantastic! Oh, if you are going to go on such adventures at least get a bump cap and a safety vest. It goes a long way visually to others that you are supposed to be there.

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    Replies
    1. I have done that in the past...and a clipboard too. No one ever messes with a guy with a clipboard who looks as if he's going somewhere.

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  3. Great pictures Thank-you for sharing

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  4. Nice pics, and yeah she DOES look a tad ragged... Hopefully she'll get a coat of paint too!

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  5. If you ever get out here, be sure and let me know. I can show you a few things on the Iowa that are off limits for the general public.

    Sorry, no engine room or turrets....YET!

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    1. Don't let him anywhere near the engine room or turrets!!! Who knows what'll happen then.

      Although I gotta admit, I do get a chuckle out of reading his adventures.

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    2. Naaaah...He'll be under adult supervision.

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    3. I have a multi-tool and a flashlight...no space is off-limits. And it would be way cool if there was enough powder in the magazine to fire one last projectile in the general direction of Los Angeles. Think I'd get in much trouble for that?

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    4. You'd probably have most of the people there volunteer to help you.

      The rest would want to take pictures....

      BTW...we could easily shell all of downtown L.A. from there.

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  6. There is still time to enter,
    http://www.boatnerd.com/trips/StClairunited2015.htm

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  7. I have a multi-tool and a flashlight...no space is off-limits.

    I think I understand why Memphis Belle sees barriers as mere challenges... ;-)

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