Friday, April 18, 2014

Ice Continues To Be An Issue

Robinson Bay docked in Clayton. Photo by Zachary Russell via Facebook

The Seaway tug combo of Robinson Bay and Performance may be spending more time at the dock than out dropping channel markers.

According to a source, the process of placing the markers back in the river is being held up due to large ice sheets moving downriver from Lake Ontario. The tugs headed for Cape Vincent this morning with plans of getting to work on the markers needing to be set in the region, however they were forced back to the Clayton dock.

"If we can't set tomorrow up here then we are heading back to Massena and setting the rest of the buoys down there, then head back up here once the ice floes stop," the source stated.

The river portion of the Seaway opened nearly two and a half weeks ago on March 31. The start date was pushed back from its originally scheduled date due to the ice conditions. Far greater ice issues loom in the upper lakes, such as Lake Superior, where ice remains two to three feet thick.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ships Anchored off Bartlett Point

UPDATE (7:45 p.m.) - Griffon is anchored awaiting the arrival of upbound traffic and will assist in clearing ice from their path to the lake.

UPDATE (4:30 p.m.) - All three ships have left anchorage and have reached the lake.

It was confirmed that the Seaway pilot boat was landlocked due to ice conditions in the Cape Vincent area, resulting in the hold up.

ORIGINAL REPORT - Federal EMS anchored off Bartlett Point today just after Noon. About an hour later, Federal Shimanto joined them.

It was not immediately known as to why, though large ice floe continues to move downriver and heavy fog has laid over the region.

Last night, Federal Satsuki dropped anchor near Carelton Island as heavy fog set in.

If we learn more, we will share it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ship Stuck in Ice off Cape Vincent

UPDATE (April 6) - All ships are back on the move after Griffon assisted breaking ice overnight. Griffon is currently leading ships in and out of the river.

ORIGINAL REPORT - A ship at the mouth of the St Lawrence has become stuck in the ice flo moving from Lake Ontario and now an icebreaker is expect to assist. Griffon has been traveling upbound from the Cornwall/Massena area to assist.

Volgaborg became stuck off Tibbetts Point on Saturday afternoon.

Baie St Paul approached the lake early this evening to investigate the lake conditions and decided it would be best to return to anchor on the river. Other ships followed along as nightfall set in. The Seaway remains under a no night transit status as well.

We will continue to watch the situation. Stay tuned.

Special thanks to some of our readers for updates.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Upbound Tankers on the Move

The view on Tuesday morning, above Beauharnois Lock, through the binoculars from aboard Griffon.
Photo by James Delaney
There are 2 upbound tankers currently near Iroquois Lock. Earlier in the day, they had received an escort from the Canadian Coast Guard's Griffon. That vessel has since headed back east to meet up with Algoma Guardian.

The Seaway is currently operating in daylight hours only. The tankers will likely drop anchor for the night at Prescott, according to a source.

Both tankers are "ice class" vessels and capable of navigating through icy conditions.

Ice remains heavy, especially between Massena and Montreal.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Here We Go, River Set to Open

Frontenac approaches Brockville on Monday evening. Photo by Andy Wheeler/Snapd Brockville

UPDATE (March 31  5 p.m.) - Frontenac and Whitefish Bay passed Clayton headed downbound and a slow pace. They were expected to anchor at Prescott overnight.

In the early going of the season, it is believed that night transits will be limited.

Griffon was east of Beauharnois Lock waiting to escort the first upbound vessels of the year.

UPDATE (March 31  2:45 p.m.) - Frontenac and Whitefish Bay have been tip-toeing their way toward the river all afternoon. An issue has slowed traffic along the South Shore Canal, west of Montreal, holding up the first upbound vessels.

Its not known if that hold up is resulting in the slow movement of the two ships on the lake, but it is very likely.

UPDATE (March 31  10:30 a.m.) - An observation by a reader is now confirmed that both Frontenac and Whitefish Bay are on the move and river bound! First ships of the season will be here by lunch time.

ORIGINAL REPORT - The river portion of the Seaway will officially open at 8 am.

Two ships will likely make their way through the islands early Monday after anchoring off Tibbetts Point the past few days. Watch for Whitefish Bay and Frontenac.

Enjoy the ship watching season!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another Breaker in the Region

The CCGS Des Groseilliers is now in the region as musical icebreakers continues since last week. 

We have also seen Pierre Radisson and Griffon. Martha Black was expected but remains near Valleyfield. 

Griffon passed through the region this morning after returning to the river for the first time since last fall. Before heading down river, the ship broke the channel into Picton allowing for the Stephen Roman to get into port. 

Ships Whitefish Bay and Frontenac have waited off Tibbetts Point today for clearance to enter the river. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

First Ships in the Islands

It looked as if Griffon was river bound, but it's since been learned that the CCG vessel is headed for Picton, Ontario to open the channel there before proceeding downriver. Originally, Martha Black was expected to take on that duty before being sent back to Valleyfield.

Frontenac, of the CSL fleet, is moving across Lake Ontario as of Saturday afternoon. It too could be headed for Picton or down the river to await the lock openings. We hope to provide an update soon.

The Seaway in our region officially opens it's gates on Monday at 8am.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy Seaway Opening Day

Though the Lake Ontario to Montreal portion doesn't open until Monday, Friday still officially opens the 2014 season as ships begin to transit the Welland Canal.

Here's to an enjoyable ship watching season!

Could More Icebreakers Be Headed Inland?

According to Halifax Shipping News, a number of large Canadian icebreakers have docked in Halifax, a few of which hadn't spent time in that region in more than five years.

Earlier this week, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries announced, "this year's frigid temperatures have led to ice conditions that have not been seen in the Great Lakes or Eastern Canada in decades, which are having a direct adverse impact on Canadian products reaching domestic and international markets. The Government and the Canadian Coast Guard have made an important decision to re-assign additional Coast Guard resources to the Great Lakes, to ensure that Canadian products, resources and agricultural goods get shipped to market. It is our firm belief that our economy, jobs and competitiveness depend on our ability to get our product into the marketplace."

In what was probably the most anticipated icebreaker appearance in the past few years along the St. Lawrence River, yesterday the Pierre Radisson crushed through the Islands ice pack as onlookers stood along the shorelines. Though the river is frozen in a number of areas, the ship had easy going as well with little to no ice near Ogdensburg and in the American Narrows. However, the ship did encounter ice as thick as 30" in some parts, such as near the locks in Massena and between Clayton and Lake Ontario.

With the opening of the Welland Canal scheduled for Friday morning at 8 a.m., the Radisson shifted its attention to Port Weller, Ontario at the mouth of the canal to ensure ship traffic is able to get through. Its not known at this point if Radisson will return to the river by next Monday for more icebreaking duties. Some hope that warmer temperatures over the next 7-10 days will help to eliminate the ice.

In the meantime, other icebreakers are busy as well, including Martha L Black, which originally was slated to travel with Radisson before it was redirected to Valleyfield, Quebec, where it now waits for ship traffic to begin. Also, Griffon is working Lake Erie, while all of the USCG cutters work the upper lakes.

So what does that mean for icebreakers out in the Maritimes?

Time and weather conditions will tell if, or when, those ships may need to be called upon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Icebreaker is Coming

Icebreaker Pierre Radisson heads up river this morning. Photo by Karen Lafave
UPDATE (March 26   3:00 p.m.) - Icebreaker Pierre Radisson has cleared the St. Lawrence River and will continue across Lake Ontario to Port Weller.

The Welland Canal will open on Friday.

It is not known if the breaker will return to the river prior to March 31. Warmer weather is expected over the weekend.

UPDATE (March 26   2:00 p.m.) - Icebreaker has reached Clayton, encountering its first heavy ice since Crossover Island.

UPDATE (March 26   1:45 p.m.) - Seaway issued a "high spot" notice this afternoon above North Colborne Island on the southside of the channel. Because of this, vessel traffic is not to exceed 8.5 knots in the area.

UPDATE (March 26   1:40 p.m.) - The icebreaker is near Fishers Landing/Rock Island and making very good time due to much of the trip in open water.

UPDATE (March 26   1:10 p.m.) - The icebreaker passed Boldt Castle in open water. Adjusted arrival in Clayton should be by 2:30, however ice conditions once past the Narrows could play a factor.

UPDATE (March 26  1:00 p.m.) - The ship is approaching Alexandria Bay.

UPDATE (March 26   12:15 p.m.) - Pierre Radisson has reached Crossover Island. The icebreaker should reach Alexandria Bay around 1:30 p.m. and Clayton by 3:00 p.m.

UPDATE (March 26  Noon) - Pierre Radisson is in the Brockville region.

ORIGINAL REPORT - As of Wednesday morning, the Canadian icebreaker, Pierre Radisson, was docked at Johnstown, Ontario - formerly known as the Port of Prescott. The breaker's counterpart, Martha L Black, was redirected yesterday back to Valleyfield, Quebec to tend to the waters in that region as the opening of the Seaway nears.

On Tuesday, the Radisson broke ice near the US locks in Massena and received some assistance from the Seaway's tug Robinson Bay.

According to one source, ice depths in some areas have ranged from 30-40" thick.

On Wednesday, Radisson is expected to continue upbound for the Islands and perhaps pass through the region by mid-afternoon. The ship will face a wide array of ice levels on this portion of the trip, including open water, which is the case near Ogdensburg and some of the American Narrows.

Follow the ship's progress on Facebook with the "St. Lawrence River Ship Watchers" group page.

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