Great Lakes Freighters in Sarnia Harbour

All winter the city of Sarnia has several Great Lakes freighters in dock for maintenance and repairs in preparation for the upcoming shipping season.  The ships are large and impressive, carrying a range of cargo through the Great Lakes system of lakes, rivers, canals, and locks.  They've captured my imagination and I find myself going down to the harbour to see and photograph them as often as I can.  Learning their stories, getting an understanding of the industry, and chatting  with the crews that work on them has become a great interest.  The fact that this all happens in my own area is a delight.  

These two ships are bulk carriers.  The CUYAHOGA, built in 1943, with a length of 605 feet, is a self discharging cargo ship;  the OJIBWAY, built in 1952 and a little longer at 638 feet, discharges its cargo is manually.  These ships are workhorses.  

 The CUYAHOGA and the OJIBWAY

The CUYAHOGA and the OJIBWAY

And the same vessels viewed from the other end on a different day.

This image shows some back end detail of the Canada Steamship Lines ship, the ASSINIBOINE.  It's a newer Self Discharging Carrier built in 1977 and it's also a little longer than the others at 728 feet.  This shot was taken on a cold and cloudy day.  At one point the sun managed to break through the cloud, painting the ship in beautiful late afternoon light.  To me these ships are works of art.

 CSL's ASSINIBOINE

CSL's ASSINIBOINE

These next images are from the ALGOSEA, an Oil Products Tanker, built in 1998.  While it's a little shorter than the others at 485 feet, seeing it up close in the Sarnia Harbour it certainly doesn't look or feel small.   This shot was taken just before nightfall looking up and towards one end of the ship.   

 The ALGOSEA

The ALGOSEA

Details taken from the side of the ALGOSEA a couple of hours earlier.  The longer I looked the more I saw.  The markings along the side present unique images of abstract art.  And details of the ropes caught my eye, as did so much more.  Hours can go by just looking and capturing images.

 Abstract art in unusual places

Abstract art in unusual places

 Side detail from the ALGOSEA

Side detail from the ALGOSEA

The ships often have the Granaries as their backdrop and when the light hits those large concrete structures it's magical.  The deck of the ASSINIBOINE can be seen in the foreground on this image.

A shot looking along the deck of the SAGINAW, another Bulk Carrier.  

The size and scale of everything is hard to grasp.

Caring for it all is complex, requiring a unique set of skills and, I would imagine, a particular temperament.

Large machinery, laid out in complex and, to my eye, beautiful arrangements of line, shape and form, with sometimes just a perfect touch of colour.

Looking down at the tug the DEFIANCE which will be assisting these freighters out into the lake in just a few weeks.  A small but mighty vessel with almost the same engine power as the larger ships.  The CUYAHOGA and the OJIBWAY at rest behind.  A cold night, with ice forming in the harbour, but soon the ships will be gone, moving through the Great Lakes with their loads of cargo and their dedicated crews.