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Shipping season wraps up

Samuel Hankinson/Ships Log • Jan 31, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Grand Haven received its final delivery of the 2018-19 shipping season last weekend.

Amid snow flurries and plenty of ice, the steamship Wilfred Sykes arrived Saturday morning with a load of slag for Meekhof’s D&M on Harbor Island.

Ashton Marine’s tug Candace Elise came down from Muskegon and broke the ice in the Grand River before the Sykes arrived, remaining in port while the freighter unloaded. Shortly after dark, the Sykes was ready to leave, and both vessels departed.

There were a couple of more loads of slag scheduled for the Sykes, but with sub-zero temperatures and gales expected in the coming days, the next port of call for the vessel was Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for a well-deserved winter layup.

The departure of the Sykes marked the end of a shipping season that had begun March 23, 2018. Over the course of the season, the port of Grand Haven saw the arrival of 15 different vessels that delivered a total of 92 cargoes to four different docks.

This season’s total is a 9 percent decrease from last season, when we finished with 101 cargoes. However, it is above our five-year average of 85. The decrease in shipments can be attributed to the harsh winter weather that affected both the start and end of our season.

The 15 different vessels that made trips to Grand Haven this season consisted of the American-flagged vessels Ashtabula/Defiance, Calumet, Herbert C. Jackson, Joseph H. Thompson/Joseph H. Thompson Jr., Joseph L. Block, Kaye E. Barker, Menominee/Olive L. Moore, Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted, St. Marys Challenger/Prentiss Brown, St. Marys Conquest/Bradshaw McKee and Wilfred Sykes. Additionally, the Canadian-flagged vessels Algoma Buffalo, Cuyahoga, Mississagi and Saginaw visited.

Noticeably absent from our port this season were the vessels Manitowoc, Manitoulin, Michipicoten and Pathfinder/Dorothy Ann.

Looking forward, there will be a few changes next season in the port of Grand Haven.

We should see the arrival of a new face, as Port City Marine’s new barge Commander entered the cement trade last week and will likely make trips to the St. Marys Cement terminal in 2019.

On a sadder note, Algoma Central Corp. is retiring a number of vessels that have made trips to Grand Haven during their careers. The Algoway (last visit was 2016) Algorail (last visit was 2015) and Algosteel (last visit was 2017) were all sent for scrap this season. Additionally, the Algowood and Capt. Henry Jackman (both last visited in 2016) are expected to head for scrapping this year.

If we see the barge Menominee in port next season, it will be with a different tug, as its old tug the Olive L. Moore is being retired. The tug Invincible, which has previously been in port with the barge McKee Sons, will be paired with the Menominee next season.

The end of the 2018-19 shipping season concludes my third season at the helm of the Tribune’s Ships Log. This season was incredibly busy for me and I would like to thank a number of people who helped me.

To begin, I would like to thank Adam at the Board of Light & Power, Paul at Meekhof’s D&M, Jeff at St. Marys Cement, as well as Jayme and Nate at Verplank’s. These gentlemen have graciously provided updates on the vessel traffic expected at their respective docks all season, and that helps me get the exact details of every vessel visit so much easier.

Thank you to my friends and family, who show constant support to me, even when I am rambling on about the most obscure ship statistics or other “boat stuff.” A special shoutout goes to Jason Bhaskaran, Jack Hurt and Tyler Fairfield for their various contributions to my articles this season. To Roger and Wade of Know Your Ships, thank you for providing valuable insight and recommendations to me so that I can improve my writing. Another thank you is owed to Dick Fox, who has provided me with this opportunity to write about something I love.

Finally, a thank you is necessary to the readers who have kept up with the log. I always enjoy meeting readers of the log while I am down photographing vessels. Your kind words are greatly appreciated.

Pending an unexpected delivery, you should expect to see my next article in late March or early April. There are exciting things to come next season and I can’t wait to share them with you all!

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