An interesting looking passenger vessel, the Saint Laurent 4,954,’01 of Haimark Line seems to have rammed the gate. She closed the navigation for 42 hours delaying 15 other vessels. She was carrying 192 passengers with 81 crew with 30 not too serious injuries reported, but there was no signifi cant damage to the lock or gate and no pollution.
She was new to me and there is defi nitely a look of a ‘Laker’ about her but she was purpose built at Jacksonville to cruise largely between Chicago and Montreal and the lower St Laurence. I believe she is also destined to work on the New England Coast and further afield.
She seems to be popular, her cruises reminding me of a larger version of my 2013 Gota Canal trip. She is marketed with a number of vessels specialising in long distance inland US/Canada waterway voyages. Under the Bahamian flag, she sails similar routes to the Pearl Mist 5,109,’09 the latter built in Halifax NS and flying the Monaco flag. They don’t have to be US flagged or built under Jones Act rules as they serve Canadian ports. Two more innovative vessels, more or less, have to comply with the act as they are low air draft and spend most of their time plying such US waters as the River Hudson, Erie Canal, Intra-Coastal Waterway and other coastal bays and inlets. Anyway, the sisters Grande Caribe and Grande Mariner of around 800gt, were designed and built in Rhode Island in 1997/8 by Blount Boats who operate them under “Blount Small Ship Adventures”.
Their cruising itinerary, seems to me, a quite mouth watering way of seeing the States. For example; 14 days New York to Montreal and Quebec via New York Harbour, the Hudson, Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, Lake Ontario, St Lawrence Seaway and Saguenay River. Then there are voyages to Boston or New York to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC via the Intracoastal Waterway, Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac, ‘The coast of Maine’, ‘New England Islands’ and the Cape Cod Canal: these itineraries give a whole new perspective on the US seeing it without swathes of tarmac and cars forever in view. With a 2m draft and a bow ramp to land passengers on beaches they live up to their motto: “we go where the big ships cannot”.
Staying on the Great Lakes, a ship that looks even more like a converted Laker bulk carrier, the ro-ro SS Badger, is the only large coal-burning steamship in the United States and a rarity now world-wide. In these pages I reported that in 2008 she was in trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and environmental groups because of clean air acts and her practice of dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan. She was under sentence of re-engining or scrapping. But the authorities compromised by an agreement between Lake Michigan Carferry Inc and the EPA in March 2013 to cease ash discharge within two years. This year new systems are in place to produce less ash and to discharge the remainder ashore for cement manufacture.
Badger 4,244,’53, crosses the 60 miles of Lake Michigan in about four hours, covering 60 miles at a cruising speed of 16 knots saving a 411 mile drive round via Chicago. She is a registered US ‘Historic Place’. This ‘Place’ can carry 620 passengers and 180 car equivalents. She proved very useful transporting wind turbine pylons some 150 feet (46 m) long Badger‘ s operating season being extended to accommodate the equipment.