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‘ships on the Seaway’ Category

  1. St Lawrence Seaway Locks and Thousand Islands Boating

    June 6, 2018 by Mike

    St Lawrence Seaway Locks (and how they work)

    Thousands Islands boating holds many adventures, be it fishing, diving, cruising, or touring.  One of the adventures is going through the St Lawrence Seaway locks. 

    Another locks adventure of sorts happened when the Seaway was closing for 2017, and the Federal Biscay got stuck in Snell Lock due to ice.  It took quite an effort to break her free, which delayed Seaway closing as several ships waited for the bottleneck to clear.

    My experience with the locks was decades earlier as a kid.  My father took his boat from Rainbow Harbor in central NY State to Clayton, NY.  We passed through several locks along the way, and I still remember them today. 

    There was a strange sensation of quiet with our engine stopped.  I recall being near the cement wall as our boat slowly rose or descended.  I watched as the embedded ladder rungs passed by as we slipped our line through each one to keep near the wall.  The sight of huge gates slowly swinging open or closed was indelible, an amazing sight.

    So, something to share with you:

    Here’s an interesting booklet I found on-line called “Tommy Trent’s ABC’s of the Seaway”.  You can find it here:

    ABC’s of the Seaway.

    St Lawrence Seaway locks

    It’s sort of written in comic book font, blue on white, which makes it quite interesting visually.  There are a ton of diagrams inside that explain the St Lawrence Seaway.  You’ll also read about the locks, the history of bulk cargo ships, satellite identification system, communication frequencies, ship watcher silhouettes, and more!  Do you know what terms like back haul, dead time, dump, turning back, and downbound mean?  Take a look, you’ll learn a bunch of cool stuff.

    Let me know if you have any locks stories of your own by leaving a comment below, because I’d love to read about them!

    Mike


  2. Thousand Islands Boating -7 Awesome Twitter Accounts for Ship Watching

    June 6, 2018 by Mike

    Thousand Islands boating – part of the joy is watching the huge ships on the river.  Ships are amazing to watch, and in the 1000 Islands between the U.S. and Canada, you can see them close-up and personal, even if you’re not there. In today’s post I’ll show you how!

    Due to the St Lawrence River’s length, these amazing vessels pass close to many towns and parks, and share the same navigable waterways that pleasure craft use. I recall watching 1000 Islands shipping around Clayton and Alexandria Bay in New York state as a kid. Back then, they were coal-powered and had to stop at coal refueling docks like this. Amazing stuff.

    Clayton 1000 islands coal dock summer 1967 - ships

    Clayton 1000 Islands coal dock, summer 1967, family photo
                      © 2016 1000islandssteelking.com

     

    If you never had a chance to experience ship watching, it’s a lot of fun and not hard to do.  All you have to do is be at, or on, the St Lawrence River.

    Or do you?

    Here’s the secret – you can see these ships all season long … via Twitter

     

    Just follow any number of St Lawrence River ship watchers. You’ll really appreciate the time they spend taking and posting pictures, and you can tell they have a love for the hobby and a sense of connection to these vessels, their cargo, and their journey.  What kind of ships will you see?  All kinds!  St Lawrence River cruises, cargo ships, tour boats, military ships, tugboats, barges, and many more.


    Let me show you a few examples to get started:

     

    One of my latest Twitter discoveries serves up a regular feed of photos, definitely worth a follow.  I recently reached out to @SeawayNNY, since several recent tweets featured ships passing by my favorite spot (Clayton NY and Calumet Island), and asked if I could share some photos with you.  Thankfully the answer was “yes”.

    Here are a few of the great shots from @SeawayNNY:

    Having spent so many years of summers on the St Lawrence watching ships pass by Clayton and up close from our family boat, I really enjoy the detail in these shots.  These photo tweets really capture the beauty and working nature of these busy vessels.

     

    Want more? You got it!

    There are several other Twitter accounts I follow that serve up wonderful 1000 Islands ship pictures.  Each day I see some amazing shots and it keeps me close to the place I spent a lot of time at as a kid, and still love today.  Give them a follow, too!

    @TallShipsBV
    @IslandLifeMag
    @theShipWatcher
    @scubadiver5
    @EdHuckMarine
    @BobMondore

    Whether you call it the Thousand Islands or the 1000 Islands, it’s a great place.  Beautiful islands, great boating and fishing, relaxation, and ships.  All shapes and sizes of ships.

    It’s fun to check out the ship names and very often spot interesting cargo.  One of the most fascinating cargo loads I’ve seen was a deck full of huge wind turbine blades.  Yeah, via Twitter!  Visiting one of the St Lawrence ship tracker websites or Twitter accounts keeps you tuned in to a lot of interesting shipping activity.

    Thanks again to @SeawayNNY, and if you have a favorite source of 1000 Islands ship pictures, I’d love it if you would leave a comment below.

    Also, if you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media!


  3. Thousand Islands Boating – Clayton, Calumet Island, Alexandria Bay

    June 6, 2018 by Mike

    Boating in the 1000 Islands is timeless.  I remember it from the boyhood vantage point of the 1960’s when I spent the summers at Calumet Island Marina, Clayton, NY, and Alexandria Bay, NY.  I can still hear the sounds and see the sights in my head.  I haven’t been back in maybe 14 years, but I imagine today it’s a lot like it was then.  So what’s different?  Who out there remembers the 1000 Islands from the 60’s and can compare it to today?

    Let me take a stab at it, without the benefit of first-hand knowledge.

    Obviously Calumet Island is different.  1000 Islands Calumet Island Marina 1967From its glorious heyday complete with castle and service harbor, to the 60’s marina, to today as a private residence, Calumet has a beauty and charm all its own. 

    Here’s a photo from a seaplane in 1967, and you can see how many trees it had back then.  The castle ruins were still plentiful and provided quite a sight-seeing adventure for my brother and I, though there was no way to get safely close.  I visited in the early 2000’s and it was very clean and for the first time in my life I was able to see the turret and stairs facing the Clayton side that was completely overgrown in the 60’s.  1000 Islands Calumet Harbor mid60sThe Calumet harbor was filled with boats, so many that “finger docks” sprung out from the stone walkways to accommodate all the customers.  Today none of those era remain, though a few new ones have sprouted according to photo’s I’ve seen.

    Here’s a mystery and a puzzler – why was the Calumet Island Skiff House roof and the taxi boat painted orange?  We called it “Calumet Orange” in our days there during the 1960’s for lack of a better term.  Here’s what I think:  advertising.  Calumet Island was a marina back then and a business needs to attract proper attention.  If you looked across the river from Clayton, there was no mistaking that orange roof!  The island itself is beautiful to look at, but that glint of orange would surely draw your eye and make you ask “Why?  What’s over there?”  The answer was “a marina, a nice place to keep your boat”.  A short while into the 60’s the marina’s small taxi boat got a hull of the same color.  I suspect for the same reason.  It became a matching extension to the marina at Calumet Island.  What do you think?  If there’s another reason you know about, it would be interesting if you’d share it.

    Clayton is different.  To me, one of the big differences between then and now are the coal docks.  As a kid, it was so neat to see the big ships close up while they took on coal for fuel. 1000 Islands Clayton Coal dock sep 67 I can still hear the very unique sound of the coal as it dropped down the long chutes into the ship’s storage areas.  Watching these behemoths maneuver to the mooring and deckhands securing the steel cables to the huge pilings and cleats left indelible images in my head.  I’ve seen pictures of that part of Clayton today and it has certainly been spruced up since the coal docks went away.  The adjacent town docks were configured a bit differently then, and the Golden Anchor restaurant sat above the side opposite the coal docks (and as I recall, the US Customs office).  Occasionally, small single-deck wooden tour boats docked next to the Golden Anchor, I believe part of the Uncle Sam Boat Tours line.  And far down the other river-side of town was McCormick’s restaurant, a period photo of which can be found in the Thousand Islands Life article in the References below, as well as Rice’s Marina where my father got his minnows for our weekly fishing trips to Grindstone Island.

    Alexandria Bay?  Well, that was a far-away destination to me!  Every few summers my family would make the voyage there from Calumet Island.  I remember how neat is was to pass under the 1000 Islands Bridge as cars passed overhead, seeing a hotel near where we docked (I believe it was the Edgewood Resort), and a western-themed family spot called “Adventure Town”.  They had wild west shows and a train ride that included a “real” gold robbery!  (You did not want to be the kid sitting on the bag of gold when the bad guys came a’ ridin’ in!)  The link I had below has gone dead, but if you’re interested in Adventure Town, you can probably find a clip on YouTube.

    1000 Islands McCormick's Restaurant and American Boat Line

    McCormick’s Restaurant and American Boat Line

    In this old postcard, you can see the street-side view of McCormick’s Restaurant next to the old American Boat Line tourboat office.  For more information on the American Boat Line and their 1000 Islands tours, see this post I wrote.

    Now it’s your turn.  How does it compare?  What’s still there and what isn’t?  Are boat operators any better or worse today than at that earlier period of time?  Has anything changed significantly in the past few decades?  What’s your favorite timeless spot? Leave a comment below and share your recollections of the area both past and present.  It’ll be fun!

    References:

    • Adventure Town
    • McCormick’s restaurant