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Busy shipping season ends

Samuel Hankinson • Jan 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Grand Haven’s shipping season carried into January, as one last vessel called on the port.

This past Saturday afternoon, Ashton Marine’s tug Candace Elise came into port to break ice upriver. It cleared the ice surrounding the St. Mary’s Cement terminal.

The articulated tug/barge Prentiss Brown/St. Marys Challenger arrived off the piers at about 8:30 Saturday night. All the ice that the Candace Elise had broken up earlier in the day had flowed out to Lake Michigan by then.

Photos of all 19 freighters that visited port this past year

The Challenger came in, with the Elise following behind. Once they reached Harbor Island, the Candace Elise took the lead.

The articulated tug/barge have had their share of icy visits to Grand Haven in the past. Several seasons ago, the Prentiss Brown, when it was paired with the barge St. Marys Conquest, came in on a late-season run to the cement dock. The Prentiss Brown left the barge at the Coast Guard dock and broke the ice at the dock so that the barge could tie up.

In 2015, the St. Marys Challenger, when it was paired with the tug Bradshaw McKee, spent more than six hours navigating the ice-choked Grand River with the aid of the tug Meredith Ashton.

This year, the ice was not as severe, and the Challenger/Brown duo easily made their way up the river.

By Sunday morning, the Candace Elise was gone, as the Challenger did not require any further assistance. The Challenger finished unloading and backed out to the lake after noon. It turned around and headed south toward Chicago.

The Challenger’s delivery closes the books on Grand Haven’s 2016-17 season, a very busy one in which 19 different boats visited the port — five more than the previous season.

Grand Haven’s season finished with 100 cargoes received, the highest total since the 2005-06 season. This marks a 9 percent increase when compared with the previous season and a 45 percent increase based on data from the past five seasons.

The 19 boats (11 American flagged and eight Canadian flagged) were: Algosteel, Algoway, Algowood, Bradshaw McKee/St. Marys Conquest, Calumet, Capt. Henry Jackman, Cuyahoga, Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder, Herbert C. Jackson, Joseph H. Thompson/Joseph H. Thompson Jr., Kaye E. Barker, Manitowoc, Michipicoten, Mississagi, Prentiss Brown/St. Marys Challenger, Saginaw, Sam Laud, Wilfred Sykes, and Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41.

The Algowood, Barker, Jackman, Jackson, Pathfinder and Thompson all visited Grand Haven for the first time in more than a decade.

The steamship Wilfred Sykes was the port’s most frequent visitor for 2016-17 with 26 visits. The Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 was second with 16 and the Manitowoc had 12.

The Soo Locks closed Jan. 16. A few ships will continue to run on the lower lakes to finish supplying steel mills or to replenish salt piles for the winter. There is always the possibility of an unexpected arrival, but my guess is that we will start to see ships in our port again sometime in March.

The annual publication “Know Your Ships” will be available in March. It is the book that I use most frequently to find information and statistics on ships. Check out knowyourships.com for more details. Also, be sure to check out boatnerd.com for daily updates on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.

This column would not be possible without the great people at the docks who keep me updated with the latest ship schedules. Thank you to Jeff at St. Mary’s Cement, Mike at the BLP, Nate at Verplank’s and Paul at Meekoff’s D&M for all that you have done for me this season.

Thank you to the Tribune for publishing my articles and photographs for the past 11 months.

And thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my column, and to all who have approached me when I’m down at the water to tell me they recognize me from the newspaper and enjoy reading my articles. Your kind words are much appreciated.

Finally, I would like to thank my friend and mentor Dick Fox for giving me this opportunity. This season was a lot of fun to cover and I could not have done this without his guidance and support.

Have a great winter!

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