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Sykes again

Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Jan 9, 2019 at 7:00 AM

The shipping season continues on in the port of Grand Haven as the calendar changes from 2018 to 2019.

To begin the new year, we saw the arrival of our port’s most frequent visitor, the steamship Wilfred Sykes.

The Sykes arrived last Friday morning before sunrise, bound for the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg to unload a cargo of slag. The vessel spent all morning in port and began backing out shortly after noon. It was a very nice day, by January standards, and people who were along the pier enjoying the nice weather were treated to a master salute from the freighter on its way out of town.

The next port of call for the Sykes was Two Harbors, Minnesota.

Shipping companies are currently racing to bring as much iron ore from Lake Superior down to the steel mills on the lower lakes. Once the Soo Locks close for the season on Jan. 15, there will be no cargo moved between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes until spring.

The Sykes is not typically used as an ore boat. The Joseph L. Block, a larger fleetmate of the Sykes, usually handles those runs. However, the Block’s season is over, as it recently arrived in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for a scheduled drydocking.

Boat-watchers may remember that the Wilfred Sykes was out of service at this time last year, leaving the Block to pick up the slack on slag runs. Now it is the Sykes’ turn to help out the Block.

The Sykes is expected to continue on the iron ore runs until the Soo Locks close.

Most vessels on the Great Lakes have either already laid up for the winter or will be doing so shortly after the locks close. The Sykes is expected to remain in service for at least several more weeks running slag cargoes to West Michigan. Weather, as it always does, plays a factor in when and if these cargoes will be delivered, but we should expect to see the Sykes several more times before the season ends.

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