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Ice, wind prove challenging to freighters

By Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Jan 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Grand Haven received two cargoes in the past week.

Recent low temperatures had allowed ice to form both offshore and in the harbor — so, on Sunday afternoon, Ashton Marine’s tug Candace Elise arrived in port to break ice. The tug, normally based out of Muskegon, remained in Grand Haven to provide assistance to the vessels that were due in our port.

Early Monday morning, Central Marine Logistics’ self-unloading motor vessel Joseph L. Block arrived offshore. Ice was a problem for the Block as it approached the piers and the Candace Elise helped clear a path. Once the ships were inside the piers the ice was not a problem.

The Block was destined for Meekoff’s D&M on Harbor Island with a load of slag. It unloaded and backed out in the early afternoon, with assistance from the Candace Elise.

The last time the Block was in port, the vessel ended up making an unplanned stop at the Coast Guard station to wait out winds. On this trip, the Block again docked at the Coast Guard station, but this time it was planned. Wind was again preventing the ship from leaving Grand Haven. The wind shifted the ice in the lake overnight.

Tuesday morning saw the arrival of the articulated tug/barge St. Marys Challenger/Prentiss Brown. After briefly getting stuck at the mouth of the river, the pair was able to get to the St. Marys Cement terminal in Ferrysburg with relative ease. The Candace Elise worked to get the Challenger upriver. As soon as they were secured at the cement terminal, the Elise headed back out to help the Block depart.

It was slow going for the Block as it backed out, but the Candace Elise was able to clear away ice so that the vessel could leave.

The Block was delivering the 100th cargo of the season to Grand Haven. This was the same amount of cargoes that we received last season. With the arrival of the Challenger, that increased the number to 101, guaranteeing the port of Grand Haven’s third straight year of growth.

I will touch on that growth more in my final article of the season. It will be published once all of the docks in Grand Haven are done receiving cargoes for the season. The only thing is, I’m not quite sure when that will be.

The Block is currently scheduled to make one more visit to Grand Haven. However, it has to travel north to Superior, Wisconsin. This trip means that it has to sail through the Straits of Mackinac and the St. Marys River, two places where the ice is severe. The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, close for the season on Jan. 15.

You can track the Block using marinetraffic.com.

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