Archive for the ‘Freighters’ Category


Once each year, Bay Shipbuilding opens a portion of its 55-acre yard to the public as a fundraiser for the local Rotary Club. Tours are conducted by Rotarians and at each stop, retired shipyard workers talk about equipment, procedures, and the ships built and serviced at the shipyard. Access is certainly prescribed and ships are off-limits but it is nonetheless a golden opportunity to see the mysteries behind the chain link fence.

And, you are guaranteed to learn amazing things, but you need to listen carefully. I was puzzled when our guide told us we were on our way to the “gravy dock” (company cafeteria? “Belly up to the roast turkey bar, boys.”) until I finally tumbled that he was saying “graving dock.”

Graving dock. Ahhh…

The blue gantry crane that I’ve shown you many times is the largest in the U.S. The operator is 135 feet off the ground, reaches his perch via elevator, and there is no bathroom up there. Someone asked the gnarly old shipyard guy about how fuel reached the engine, located on top of the crane.

“Five gallon gas cans,” he said solemnly. “”Every time someone goes up, they bring a can with them. As you can imagine, it’s a slow process.”

He could only fake solemn for ten seconds before he broke down into a gnarly old guy chortle.

No one can gnarly-chortle like an old guy.

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This is the Arthur M Anderson, a 767 foot long Great Lakes freighter built in 1952 as a part of the US Steel fleet. The Anderson‘s claim to fame? In 1975, she was the last ship to be in contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald and the first rescue ship on the scene.




Let’s close with a little Gordon Lightfoot and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Tomorrow: Shipyard “Found Art” and a Wabi Sabi tale of woe.

Four images from Thursday night and a fifth to put them into perspective

Thursday night’s expedition to Bay Shipbuilding for some Industry-After-Dark shots. The weather was more than cooperative with great lights, little cloud cover, and a bright comma of a moon in the indigo-blue post-sunset sky.

I’ve been trying to decide how best to present the series. The shots I am posting here were actually minimally processed and I have spent some long minutes just drinking in the richness of the colors.

Does anyone else do this? Sometimes I just stare at an image and think “I could not possibly have taken that picture. It does not belong to me but instead climbed into my camera looking for a warm place to take a nap.”

The structure you can see on the left of each photo is the pilothouse of the freighter American Century. The following are simply different versions of the same scene and I am perfectly delighted with them as they stand. However, I thought it would be helpful to include a fifth picture to show you the sheer enormity of both the ship and the crane.





The American Century, of which you could only glimpse portions of the pilothouse in those earlier images, is a thousand-foot-long Great Lakes freighter that generally hauls coal on the Lakes.


Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay at night. Tonight to be exact. Like…two hours ago. This is one hopping place–they are obviously working around the clock.

A calm and methodical woman would process the pictures she took and then present them to you in an organized fashion.

Yeah…right. Not happening.

I selected just one shot to post this evening.

The rest will be coming soon.

First Crane sized

Subtitled: “Sometimes I Feel Like a Rudderless Child.”

Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Beautiful or what?


The Roger Blough is an 858 foot long traditional-styled Great Lakes self unloading bulk carrier.


From Sunday’s visit to Sturgeon Bay. The first two shots are very similar, but cropped to give you some idea of the size of the tugs up against the freighters. The red and blue ship that they are working with is the Edgar B Speer.





This last shot is hard to present with a size restriction. Viewed at about 4×6, the impact is just lost. (It’s my picture and MY eyes don’t know where to rest.) It really needs to be viewed full-sized, so click on it if you can. Then, it makes sense.


  There is the deckhand and there is the expanse of ice. I don’t think the conflict has any weight unless you can see the “face” of each.

Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay is one hopping place.


And, yes, that is ice in the channel.



This last freighter, the Edgar B Speer, is 1,000 feet long. The mind boggles.


This often happens when I am out on a quest: what I THINK I want to shoot is not what I end up shooting. On Sunday, I wanted to see what I could get of the ships currently in Sturgeon Bay and I took a…wait for it…wait for it…boatload of pictures. Some freighters, like the Speer shown above, are mammoth. Pretty cool. Eventually, though, I discovered the hardworking tugs and it was the tugs who really captured my interest. Meet them next time.