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Midday presents a Mainstreet Radio special program to discuss shipping on Lake Superior. Hosted at the Canal Park Maritime Museum in Duluth, Rachel Reabe speaks with guest panelists, including executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, a ship captain with the Western Great Lakes Pilots Association , and a ship agent with Guthrie-Hubner. Panelists also answer listener questions.

Although 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, Duluth/Superior boasts, one of the busiest bulk ports in the United States.

Program also includes a report from Leif Enger on board a Bulgarian ship loaded with grain and bound for Italy.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

(00:00:11) Good morning, and welcome to this Main Street radio special from the Duluth Harbor. I'm Rachel rebe our show today is all about the ships on Lake Superior. Eleven Hundred boats from around the world will pass through the twin ports of Duluth superior this year. We'll talk about Minnesota's International Seaport and shipping trade during our first hour at noon. We'll turn our attention to the boats. That didn't make it into Port the Edmund Fitzgerald. Maybe Lake superior's best-known shipwreck, but it's only one of the hundreds of boats on the bottom of this huge Lake a panel of shipwreck experts will be here to tell their stories and answer your questions. But first, let's find out what life is like on one of the big ships on Lake Superior, Main Street radios life anger was on board a Bulgarian Tramp freighter when she pulled out of the twin ports last week with a Load of North Dakota Wheat. Here's his (00:01:02) report. At 7:15 p.m. A tugboat Bob's round the prow of the occult Itza a 600-foot freighter set to Embark for Europe with 15,000 tons of spring wheat. It's pouring rain hammers. The ship's green decks and massive red hatch covers. It sweeps like a blizzard across the tugboat Spotlight the tug Bears down and the o'cl cheetah groans away from the dock or ten issuing commands on the bridge deck is American pilot, Don willick e, he knows the shallows in and around the harbor the shoals of superior captain gange of at his side a firms each order a young Helmsman and Reebok sweats and flip-flop sandals adjust course, the bridge deck is darkened for night travel lit only by glowing radar and instrument screens with the o'cl cheetah under power the tug boat slips its lines and peels away toward the city. Alright then thanks again there Donald Straight Ahead the Duluth lift bridge climbed it. Opening a huge Square door to the rest of the world. Ships move at the speed of History the o'cl cheetah at Daybreak is like a transient Sphinx shouldering through fog at 14 nautical miles per hour Helmsman Demeter wrist off in his mid-20s rattles off the Voyages ports. Thus far Israel, Amsterdam Brazil Toronto Duluth. Next Italy. I am one of the luckiest men because I work for this company. They are many people with for working for shipping, but they have no chance Christophe says shipping is one of the few stable elements in Bulgaria's ruinous National economy the fall of socialism brought democracy, but so far no Prosperity the war in neighboring Kosovo deep and Bulgarian problems of joblessness and falling salaries a ship's officer can make the equivalent of a thousand dollars a month ten times what he might make on shore. On Deck nervous sparrows glean a meal from grain spilled during loading. They've pretty much got the deck to themselves. It only takes 20 to Sailors to run the ship a few Engineers to mind the 12,000 horse diesel three ships officers to navigate to cook stew stewards and a handful of able-bodied cement or abs while methods change the ABS do what ABS have done since Robert Louis Stevenson went to see man anchor lines turn which has swab the deck now swabbing his done by an A B with a sparrow scattering high-powered hose washing the spilled wheat (00:03:52) overboard. (00:03:59) The first time when I was in a boat was wonderful. We were in Holland in Greece and Turkey was wonderful Stefan horizontal the chief steward Stoops in a claustrophobic kitchen under the bridge deck. He's making the captain a cup of coffee 5 ounces of water 3 tablespoons of pulverized Brazilian beans and to of sugar Stefan wears a white shirt black pants and the look of a man who has outlived a first love. He's got to be a long man. You know that The kids have family and wife is far away from here. (00:04:49) Numbers before the show to see what's in the ship's mess (00:04:54) for Sailors. Keep an eye on the TV while Downing fried eggs with fresh red peppers and fayta' cheese. It's a testament to Vanna White's appeal that none of them speak English down the hall to meet her wrists of rest in his cabin between watches. He prefers reading novels science books and the Bible which he's come to rely on to ease the long months away from his wife asked about his statement that he is among the luckiest bulgarians. He admits luck can be relative every time when I came back. I promise to fire this component to look for any job on the land and every day every time I assure my wife that this was this was the last time I sail, But when you leave on the shore for a month to three you expire your money and make your your decision to go again, there could be shot without a knock the meters door opens. It's an older sailor on some urgent errand Demeter nods and checks his watch for the man leaves 2 meter leads forward irritated under socialism. He says many profited by spying on their employees or neighbors now under democracy, those people have been forgiven and often given the best paying jobs after changing the social order all this pretend to be clear to be innocence. And today a lot of them now are here Among Us. It's not fair. There is also much younger people. Who needs a job? By Nightfall the East End of superior looms pilot Don willick. She has brought the occult Itza as far as the st. Marys River and is ready to get off. The ship doesn't stop for this a small pilot boat now Roars up alongside the o'cl cheetah and about seven knots the deck is slick with rain and spray. Will it be swings himself over the side and climbs down a rope ladder as if it were a set of stairs downtown. See you later. Have a good trip. With Will accuse departure a new pilot has climbed aboard. He'll guide the ship through so sainte-marie now just a distant clutch of light and down the st. Mary's to Lake Huron the captain Paces the darkened Bridge Demeter wrist off is back at the helm and Stefan appears holding a cup of coffee looking out at the next set of Lights to be left behind. lafe anger, Minnesota Public Radio (00:07:42) You're listening to a Main Street special from the Corps of Engineers Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center. I'm Rachel rebe. We're up on the second floor in the Museum's pilothouse exhibit facing a wall of Windows. Overlooking the Magnificent Lake Superior and it is a beautiful day in Duluth. Bright blue sky just a smattering of white clouds that are merging into the much deeper Water of Lake Superior, which is behaving itself. At least for today boats have been Crossing this formidable body of water carrying people and cargo for at least a hundred and fifty years. Although we're 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean Duluth superior boasts, one of the busiest bulk ports in the United States, you can get there from here. Thanks to a string of lakes locks and rivers Our Guest this morning our Davis Helberg the executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority Edward. Rui-zhi ship agent with Duluth Guthrie hubner agency and ship captain Dennis Aho The Western Great Lakes Pilots Association. Good morning. Gentlemen, welcome to Main Street morning. Good morning. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments listeners. If you are in the Twin Cities, you can call us at 6'5 12276 thousand 6512276 thousand. If you are outside the metropolitan area, please reach us by calling 1-800 to four to Twenty Eight twenty eight one eight hundred 242, 2828. Mr. Helper, give us an idea of what kind of cargo is coming in and out of the Duluth Port. Generally. What are we seeing? Well outbound is is the predominant type of cargo that moves to the port. In fact, if if we were a nation looking at balance of trade we would have an embarrassment of riches because our cargo is heavily weighed outbound as they come in empty for the most part. Well a lot of them do the outbound Principal Cargoes are iron ore taconite pellets as they're called locally or iron ore pellets iron are represents about 45% of our trade in average years through the 90s the most quickly growing component of our cargo mix is low sulfur Western coal out of Montana and Wyoming that in recent years has been about 35% of our cargo mix but in this year, in fact, it's up to about 40% by itself. And then the third the third leg of it which gets the most attention usually from the press and the public because it attracts the ocean-going activity is the grain the ball crane from The Dakotas and Western Minnesota, and that's about ten percent roughly. So between iron or coal, it was Western coal and grain that's nearly 90% of our tonnage and virtually not all but virtually all that is outbound inbound. The largest single commodity is limestone. Limestone that's used as a fluxing agent in the iron ore pellet making industry and also sort of surprising to many people. It's also used in Sugar manufacturing by the sugar beet plants out in the Red River Valley. So those are the main car goes but we also have a sort of a grocery store or Supermarket variety of other Commodities ranging from things that most people haven't heard about like bentonite clay to salt a lot of cement comes in general cargo, which is anything backs a boxed bagged loose crated and so on we had we had some Swedish wood pulp just that was basically about Captain. What's the most unusual cargo? You've carried on a ship through the great (00:11:30) lakes that would have to be on a Lithuanian ship a few years ago these large aluminum tanks were built for the paper mill up and in Cloquet, Minnesota. And they were so wide that you had to walk out on the wing of the bridge to see the Deluge ship canal. So I took some photographs of that just to show people that that was the biggest cargo we had and then from the Port Authority they went up to the paper mill, but that was the most (00:11:58) unusual I think and you have to hang a sign on the boat oversized load or don't they do great (00:12:03) things not to my knowledge Coast Guard doesn't require that yet. (00:12:06) Our phone number six five. One two, two seven six thousand. If you are in the Twin Cities, if you are outside the Twin Cities, you can call and join our conversation about shipping at one eight hundred two, four two 28:28 what percentage of the boats coming into the Duluth superior Harbor are the Lakers or the domestic boats and what percentage of the foreign boats? Of the roughly 1100 ships that we handle annually these days about 200 are ocean-going people are tend to think that it's a lot greater than that because there's such a high profile. It's that perceived romance and glamour of shipping and the foreign languages and the customs in the Styles and so on of the balance about 600 650 are u.s. Lakers domestic Lakers and 200-250 Canadian Lakers. So there's three tiers really it's the u.s. Lakers the Canadian Lakers and the ocean-going from various Maritime nations of the world. Mr. Ruiz see your agency handles, which of the boats an entire (00:13:12) mix of all of them entire mix We handle the salt water vessels will handle Lakers. and (00:13:23) and you look after you look after Canadians as well as us, right, but with the foreign Ships coming in. I'm sure they require a whole different set of procedures in a raft of paper. What are the sorts of things you have to do to get to get everything ready for what for - to come into (00:13:41) Port when we know that the vessel is coming. We are contacted by the shipowner. They'll ask us for a performer disbursement account. So they don't know what the cost are to expect we will make out a performer for them and send it to him showing, you know, the various Services what they going to cost them and then we'll know who their agent is in Montreal and we'll be contacting that agent and to get the vessels ETA and Montreal and then (00:14:19) trying to figure out what time they're going to arrive here time to go to rehab. Their birth ready for them let them know when they can come in. (00:14:26) That is correct. Then we notified the ship is the grain elevators so that they can tell us where the ship will load. And then once we have that in line, we keep everybody informed of the vessels arrival. (00:14:43) So you're the consummate middleman right letting everybody know. So everybody's on the same (00:14:47) page on the same (00:14:49) page. You also had all the Customs forms and write that that comes in (00:14:54) next now. We notify the we are in constant contact with the pilot office here and don't keep us updated when it's coming and then we will instruct the pilot office what we want to do with the ship. Usually we want to put them at anchor or we want to put them into a certain elevator. (00:15:18) Well, that's always a question. I've been to Duluth many times are we look at and think they don't look like they're moving. They can't be moving. They've been sitting there in the same place for two hours. And so they are anchored out waiting for their spot to open (00:15:30) up in here waiting for this part open (00:15:32) up and sometimes they anchor (00:15:33) out right now. There's a few reasons why they stay out a long time. Sometimes they're ahead of their contract. They could be a week or two weeks out of their contract. I've had (00:15:46) that so we just have to stay out (00:15:48) there on the boat. We stay they stay out there because we don't want to incur any expenses for that boat. Another some other times they have a problem the shipper in the buyer with a letter of credit if that is not in order. We can't load the ship. So the ship will stay out (00:16:08) there and then you're in phone contact with them or you're going back and (00:16:12) forth. We well what happens is will go out to the shop in the launch and will take with us a grain inspector the National Congress Bureau surveyor the stevedore and the will inspect the vessel for cleanliness. The National Congress Bureau and it's available check this vessel stability make sure that she's going to load correctly. So it warm capsized when he gets out to deal (00:16:43) and all of that the preliminary work for the ship to come into Port. Let's take some phone calls. We're going to go to the phones Dory from Minneapolis is standing by. Good morning Dory. Good morning. This is absolutely fun listening to I do have a question you have consistent and I'm sure steady customers of shipping out as well as coming in to get shipment and tell me more about those and as well as the time frames throughout the year, you probably are busier than other time frames and what kind of stuff is being shipped out during certain times of the year like around Christmas, of course in the winter time. It would be probably impossible if not hard but during the summer obviously is going to be busier but in With in the summertime what times for what shipments come in and out questions? What's the busiest time of year? Mr. Hallberg? Well, it depends on the season, you know, there's always variables the iron are moves pretty steadily from when the bell rings and the spring until the season is over if the market is strong the coal moves at a steady gait from opening to closing and not the grain but the grain usually will see a surge in the early part of the season because of Any frame that's have been stored up over the winter. There's been cargos booked through the winter. We often will have some somewhat of a lull in mid-summer. Say what Eddie June through mid-august. Yeah and that period July August and then when the new Harvest comes in will start seeing an uptick again. Oh and about September and usually from that point to the end of the season if we're having a respectable year in Grain movement will have a strong and heavy we are this year. Yeah, so give me an idea of how many boats might be in the harbor on any given day and how many might be out at anchor on a busy day. What does it look like busy day? We could have a dozen or 15 when he include the Lakers, right? Easy considered and then the in the so-called Heyday of at least the last 40 Years of my experience, you know, we've had we've had seasons will never see again in terms of just because a lot of things have changed. But today I'd say 12 to 15 is a pretty pretty busy day (00:18:55) ahead. I would say (00:18:56) that Captain wind is the shipping season open. How how early do you get on the lake? And at what time is it? Usually you cannot move things anymore on the (00:19:05) Water Well, I go to work when the st. Lawrence Seaway opens. So I'm a little later but the Lakers usually start going to say mid-march right around there (00:19:17) are Lakers season, of course is controlled by the opening and closing of the soo locks and the locks at the Eastern end of Lake Superior, which bring us down to the water level of because if that's not open, there's nobody coming back. That's the choke point. Okay, we're captive to the soo locks and she locks open on March 25th. Annually, no matter what the Lakes this is an agreement. And thrashed out in the early 90s between all of several parties of Interest open on March 25 closed on January 15th. The Seaway though is Captain Tahoe was just saying is flexible the u.s. And Canadian entities that operate in administer the jointly administered to see way will agree on dates depending on weather and ice conditions as as their projected and unexpected demand. And usually the Seaway will open on or about April 1 or the last week of March closes late December. Usually we have our last see way traffic out of here about 15th of December latest. Tom is standing by in st. Anthony. Good morning, Tom. Welcome to Main (00:20:26) Street. Good morning first. Let me start by saying hi to my four-year-old son Zachary. He's listening right now. He's heavy duty into the shipping's, you know into the boats and everything. We're planning a trip up to Duluth this weekend and I was just wondering if there's any type of a lull and the shipping on the weekends if it's you know, strictly Monday through Friday type thing or if it's all the time, (00:20:51) you know, nothing any respecter of dates or days know (00:20:54) it daily everyday especially weekends and they always seem to show up on Friday night or Saturday had to get off work. We want to get a weekend off they show up (00:21:11) so they keep going (00:21:13) and if the elevators want to work and ship is want to work then we bring them in and we'll work them on the And the crews don't like that because they thought they were going to have a weekend important and they love to go to the mall. That's the first thing they asked I think these Pilots should you should work for the Chamber of Commerce because they seem to know what all the night spots are in town. (00:21:41) So you're saying that the foreign seamen on the boat when they get in they want to go (00:21:45) shopping. Yeah, they had to put them all right away then eat any to by Westminster where we see what one of the reasons anything that the bring home to their family. (00:21:55) We've seen we've seen these are exceptions, but we've seen people buy used cars in this guy's a big problem then you know, ideally the ship's going to have cranes on Deck, but if it doesn't and they can't get the the car aboard salesman. Wow car salesman earned their reputation not like an overhead bin in an airline. These guys can kind of go (00:22:16) wild. Well, I've seen a lot of room don't go over to the Goodwill and these of the People from India and they'll literally cleaned out the place of you'll see the Goodwill truck come alongside the pair and use mattresses and you name it there. They go on board speaking of cars. We had an interesting thing a few years ago in Milwaukee. I had just knocked one of these roro ships and the bow swings away and you drive on tractors or trucks and that and I read in the paper or saw on the television a day later. When I was in Chicago on another vessel that they caught a car theft ring all the way back to Poland or something and they had a Jeep Cherokee on board. It still had the Illinois plates on it. So they knew it wasn't a legitimate car deal (00:23:09) Roy just a couple of if I make a couple of comments about terms that are used roro beans roll-on/roll-off. We see an occasional rare row row here when I roomed with eddi-rue. See before I got married a hundred years ago at this point just about what had was referring to weekends. It was from Ed. I think I learned that the wonderful thing about this business is you never have Monday morning blues because every day is the same. I mean you get into a rhythm and people who are working on the waterfront get paid overtime on weekends at the grain elevators, but the or docks for example in the cold Ox there on shifts. They operate 24 hours a day. So the Grain and the or it's not the same issue as it is with the ocean-going ships. They're working Round the Clock seven days a week opening a season the closing of season. I'm Rachel riebe. This is a special Main Street radio broadcast from Duluth Maritime Visitor Center. We're talking about the twin ports shipping industry, you're listening to the sounds of a Great Lakes freighter leaving the Duluth Harbor this (00:24:15) morning (00:24:17) the bridge operator initiates a series of blasts as the Canadian Mariner passes underneath Duluth historic area Bridge. And the ship response with the traditional (00:24:32) cat? (00:24:38) We are live right next to the Ship Channel in Duluth Our Guest this morning Davis Helberg Edward. Rui SI ship captain Dennis, aho mpr's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening. We'll be back with more of Main Street after a look at news and weather. Hello. I'm Lynn Neary one of the reasons listeners like you contribute to this station is because they appreciate being kept informed of news events that are important to their lives tune in any day and you'll hear analysis opinions and predictions by people from all walks of life. It's news and information. We hope helps ensure that your own opinions, whatever they may be are well informed it's your financial support that helps keep this source of quality news and information available whenever you need it. With news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Greta Cunningham Democrats appear to be giving up the fight to delay a Senate vote on the nuclear Test Ban Treaty minority leader. Tom daschle says neither he nor President Clinton is willing to make any further concessions to Senate conservatives. The treaty is expected to be voted down largely along party lines supporters can see their far short of the 67 votes. They need to ratify the treaty the world's biggest Tobacco Company. Philip Morris has acknowledged that tobacco isn't safe and that smoking is addictive White House spokesman. Joe Lockhart says the company must still answer for decades of deceptive advertising. The Clinton Administration has filed suit against cigarette makers seeking to recover billions in what it calls ill-gotten gains Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says yesterday's military coup in Pakistan creates a new level of uncertainty in the region, especially now that India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons yesterday the Army and Pakistan took control seizing public buildings airports. Stay Broadcasting. Asians and the homes of government ministers India has put its Army on alert, although an unusual troop movements. Haven't seen your the Border forecasters are watching a new tropical storm in the Caribbean. They say the storm could grow into a hurricane and possibly threaten Florida in Regional News Minneapolis. Attorney. Michael Cera see joined the race today for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican senator Rod grams 3C LED Minnesota's tobacco lawsuit, which ended in a 6.6 billion dollar settlement at the state capitol news conference today. He described himself as a strong effective leader and a tireless advocate for minnesotans. He said grams is not the forecast for Minnesota calls for Clear Skies this afternoon with high temperatures mainly in the 40s right now in Duluth. It's sunny and 42 cloudy and Rochester and 43 in the Twin Cities sunshine and 48. That's a news update. I'm Greta Cunningham. Welcome back to our Main Street special live from the maritime Visitor Center on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth. I'm Rachel riebe from where we are sitting on the second floor of the Marine Museum. We can see it all we see the Ship Channel with the Breakwater lights that really look like miniature lighthouses at the opening to the channel and the aerial Bridge overlooks all of it here in the Duluth Harbor Lake Superior is light winds would you say captain give us a captain's (00:27:49) report? Well, I guess they're light winds to the you have white capsule. It's probably 15 18 knots right now (00:27:57) little bit of a chop, but not a bad day to (00:27:58) sail not too bad. No (00:28:00) blue skies and fall leaves still on the trees watching boats is a popular Pastime in Duluth with Eleven Hundred ships arriving and departing during the ten months shipping season. It could be almost a full-time occupation. There's a boat Watchers hotline here and a newspaper devoted entirely to ship comings and goings. Minnesota Public Radio reporter Amy radel is on a bridge overlooking the Duluth Harbor this morning with a professional boat Watcher. Good morning, Amy. While we're waiting to get a me set up. Why don't we take a phone call this morning? Let's go to Phil who is in Minneapolis? Good morning, Phil. Go ahead with your question. Please call. Yes. (00:28:43) I just had a question regarding the number of ships that go into the poor. He said there were Eleven Hundred ships that go into the port. Annually. How does this compare in volume to other similar ports? Perhaps along the Eastern seaboard. (00:29:00) The volume that we move is so huge, you know, we move about 40 million tons of cargo a year. So our average ship is carrying our average Laker for example is carrying somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty five thirty eight thousand tons because we have some that can carry 65,000 tonnes the eastern and the say the East Golf and West coasts what we call the Tide Water ports will usually handle more ships in numbers because the average cargo with so many smaller ships is going to require more ships to move it notwithstanding that though. We can't handle the world's biggest ships either were restricted by the size of the Saint Lawrence Seaway two ships of 740 feet long by 78 feet wide ocean. And then the Lakers are maximum about a thousand feet long about a hundred feet wide and those ships by the were prisoners. To Lake Erie and West they can't go through the Welland Canal these biggest of the bombers as we call them that you see on the Lakes. It's hard to it's not really accurate to measure numbers of ships if we measure tonnage, so maybe to get more to Phil's question. We're about 17th or 18th nationally in total volume in terms of bulk cargo were about fifth or sixth but that's given that we have a limited season that we do have to close in the wintertime as well. So all things considered I think we're doing respectively we're certainly by far the largest port in the Great Lakes and have been for most of the century were far ahead of places like Chicago and Detroit Milwaukee Toledo Cleveland Toronto other cities that have much greater population busiest port on the Great Lakes by far. We have a live audience here at the maritime Visitor Center. Our reporter, Bob Kelleher's in the audience was somebody who has a question. Comment this morning (00:30:59) one of our members of the audience notice some construction Outdoors, which affect shipping Rose Marie's from (00:31:04) Duluth. Everybody from Duluth loves the aerial lift bridge as well as all of our visitors due to and there's a big renovation that is going on going to start. In fact has begun its five and a half million project five and a half million dollar project. Maybe some of the our guests would like to speak about it since it's going to mean some it's going to be caused some (00:31:29) problems for people here in Duluth. (00:31:32) Now the historic aerial Bridge built in 1905 a historic structure. It's on the national register Davis what's going on with it the city of Duluth owns and operates the aerial Bridge as the Chamber of Commerce likes to say the world-famous Ariel Bridge. We say it's world-famous at least from Big park to park Bigfork to Park Falls. I'm not sure but it is our symbol December 15th. It's going to be shut down to to ship traffic and is Rose Marie mentioned the renovation work has already begun. It's a major rehab and Tation the renovation project should be completed though by the end of March. So when the navigation season opens again and in the year 2000 will have it available meantime, then ships will be using the natural mouth of the st. Louis River and that is the superior entry which is 7 miles east of here. In other words at the end of Minnesota pointer Park point is locals golf. So our front row seat that show will be suspended for a period of time. Well Boat watching isn't Active Sports in this community, but after December 15th, it's a little more rigorous than it would be in say this time of the year and it's summer so there's not quite as much but watching and late December a mere idle is now ready to go. We have her out on a bridge in the brisk weather today and the Duluth Harbor. Good morning (00:32:52) Amy. Good morning Rachel. Hi. I'm here with Ken no ins he came to Duluth. He didn't grow up here originally became so fascinated with the port that he started his own newspaper. It's called the Duluth Shipping News and it Chronicles the Comings and goings here 10. Is this a busy time in the port? Well, it is to this today. It's a little bit slow, but that's kind of unusual. You got a big series of Great Lakes and you can't always predict when ships are going to arrive at the right right time. Give us a tour of where they're loading and unloading today and what's changing hands. Well, we're on the st. Louis River looking across the superior Midwest Energy coal dock which is empty today, but they've been setting records every month for loading coal last week. I saw a boat loading coal and there was one right beside it ready to move in as soon as the first one left but there's there's I don't think any Ships coming in today for that further down on the Duluth side of the of the the river Don West Duluth. The capitana is Tamika Lithuanian ship came in early this morning and is loading Bentonite and then up from there. I don't think there's a ship over to DM DM and I are doc. They discharge Limestone and low taconite from the Iron Range. But right across the river from us at the Harvest States. There's a two ships over there. The Canadian Laker the augustson is loading soybeans and the kingdom independent is over. They're loading wheat, which is going to take to to Buffalo. I was curious to ask you, you know, we look out and we see the ship's outside the harbor anchored all lit up at night. Why are they out there? And what's it like on board for them? Well, there's a lot of reasons. I think first of all, it's free parking out there if they came in they may have to pay some dock fees and they're there because for a variety of reasons perhaps most usually is ship is at the birth were there are supposed to go to so I have to wait for that ship to end last a couple of weeks ago about a month ago those ship came. They didn't have any was due and sat out there for about a week until they found something for it to do. Its I always assume it's boring when I talk to people out there. If you're on a silver doesn't make a whole lot of difference where they're going to Mill Atlantic Ocean or the Hardware Duluth. You still have the same place to go to bed and where he and so if you kind of follow the same routine no matter where you are. There's a lot of painting that goes on and there's a lot of regular maintenance to a ship no matter where you are. They also a number of times and I said it in the harbor and think a lot of people look out and feel sorry for them stuck out there. They have some fixed fantastic meals couple I think on the fourth of July weekend, there was a ship out there through the whole weekend and they had Lobster and they had steak in a variety of kinds of fishes and meet and they just sat out on there on the deck and enjoy themselves. It sounds very idyllic talk about how often do they get to communicate with home? And what are some ways that that's changing a little bit. Well, it's not real easy to communicate on a ship to the rest of the world and very few have direct phone connections. So quite often when a salty arrives. You will see the gangway come down and people will come down and go right to the phone booth to call home. Of course, depending on what time it is at home. Another Act of thing that people wants all these are carrying and looking for always is phone cards that seems to be the coinage around the world and way you connect with phone cards. The I have I have a web page called Lucifer news way take a lot of pictures of the people on ships and several times. I've taken pictures of them put them on the webpage and one case with an Indian ship and when I came back and told them there on the web page, they went down the gangway and called home and India and said go down the street to throwing those house that has the connection to the weapon. You can see us in loose and they did this kind of fun and I suspect things like that with the Internet or going to increase communication. You mentioned you've been an email go-between for people at Sea as well. Yeah once in a while and you want to ship you have a lot of needs and and some you know, whether it's Whether it's the get groceries or underwear or whatever, you also have girlfriends and boyfriends and other side of the world in several times. I have been given messages sometimes on disk to take home an email to a girlfriend, you know in foreign language in this case the Dutch. I'm not sure what I was sending and couple days later I get a message back and that's which I transfer which I gave back to him and just kind of interesting. I kind of wonder what they were saying, but that wasn't my business great. Thanks for your time today. Thank you (00:37:34) Rachel. Thank you. Amy Captain. I hope the one of the ships that he talked about you you came in on it last (00:37:42) night. Yes. I did actually this morning at 115. We drop the anchor and wait until daylight and then the harbor pilot came on board to take it up to the birth. (00:37:52) And that was a Russian (00:37:53) ship. It was well Lithuanian, but the Russian crew has the captain was from could ask Russia. (00:38:01) Now you've sailed on the Great Lakes for almost 40 years. You're actually third-generation. You told me your grandparents were on boats. What was your grandmother doing on a boat (00:38:10) while she was second cook and they loved her because she raised 10 kids on a farm and she knew just about every recipe and the crew when she finally had to get off. I think it was either 1949 or 1950. I was quite small and she was getting varicose veins and it was hard for her to stand in the galley. But Grandpa was night Porter. My dad was Wheels men and Uncle Doyle was a chief engineer on the same ship. So it was kind of fun the my sister for my 50th birthday a few years ago. She gave me a picture and I'm sitting on my grandfather's knee on the fantail of this old freighter and he's got his white suit and there's a big pot of potatoes down there and I was 18 months old now was a 1946. So that's a few years ago. (00:38:56) So it was inevitable that you would go to (00:38:58) see. Yes I have and I had uncle That were captains and Pilots. My mother's Three Brothers. Anal toys on Wayne. Overall Chief Engineers my brother-in-law married to my sister as a chief engineer and now he works for u.s. Steel. So it just it was either farmer go on the boats. Actually. I went on the bolts thinking I'd finish art school. And in between I work for two architects went to Vietnam and then decided I'll come back here. (00:39:24) Is it a good life as a ship captain? (00:39:26) Although it's a lonely life and I Was A Bachelor for 41 years. I finally took a bride 14 years ago. I will be in January now. It's a little tougher because you have somebody at home, but when I was single I kind of enjoyed it wherever I hung my hat that was home. (00:39:43) And so what kind of a scheduled you have? How long are you on and then when he get time (00:39:47) off, well, we work beginning of the Season early April till December 15th to the 19th when I get off the ship down and Port here and we usually lease a few company cars and then we drive them back to To lose. So I get home around the 19th or 20th. Depending on driving conditions (00:40:06) should point out too that Captain our how Works exclusively with ocean-going ships. So the referent even though he was a great lake sailor and became the great lakes shipmaster in these for these last many years now has been a ship pilot the Lakers u.s. And Canadian do not employ shore-based Pilots as do the ocean ships. They just come in with with their with their caring crew with her standing crew. But with a foreign boat that comes in they cannot let that Captain bring the boat across that's where you get on that's right. And you get on it Port (00:40:37) Huron. Yes, that's the end of District 3 and we have what I believe is the largest pilotage in the world. We have Lake Superior Lake Michigan and Lake Huron anywhere that vessel goes that's where I have to take it. So I'm I'm sometimes gone from my wife. Well depends it 32 32 days at a time and they try to give us nine or ten days and the 21st of this month. Hopefully I'll be home for nine days and we can catch (00:41:04) up cause you got home at what time this morning. (00:41:07) Well, I got home about seven o'clock (00:41:09) this morning and you leave (00:41:10) again and 1705 o'clock (00:41:13) 5 o'clock tonight on what kind of a (00:41:15) boat I think it's polish crew the Lake Superior. It's it's over at a GP loading right now and I assume the last time I was on it in June it had a Polish crew. (00:41:28) You told me when we spoke on the phone. Well, first of all when I talk to you three weeks do you did not have a clue where you would be today? You don't have any idea do they just tell you sort of day by day where you're going and when you're coming back and when you're going again, (00:41:41) well, I'm on call 24 hours a day and that it does go day by day. But if somebody sick or somebody's wife is sick and they can't be on then they'll say a quick jump in the plane or drive a car or catch em track to Chicago. So I literally until I'm on that vessel and I have a cell phone in my hand. I can't give anybody any Tas. I know where I'm at. And where I'm going. (00:42:03) You told me the life of a ship captain is 90% boredom 10% sheer Terror. (00:42:09) Yeah, that that about sums it up and especially this time of year with the wind at you know, you're sitting there having coffee and then the ship is rolling and so on but then when you get to Port and it's still blowing about 35 knots that's when you start the pucker Factor, you know, (00:42:24) what's been the most difficult conditions you've been on unlike Superior. (00:42:30) Oh it was the worst (00:42:31) storm you ever sailed in. (00:42:33) Oh, I really there's been a few I've been in I guess in 1982 or 83. I was on a Greek ship and there was about twenty five ships anchored behind Whitefish and they had a super cargo on board and he wondered why we couldn't get going to Duluth so that it was an old ship and 8 not ship and calm day. So I said, okay, I'll show you a cap and and supercargo we lifted anchor when Iran. Corner took us two hours to go eight miles and then we got caught in the trough all the coffee cups. Everything dumped we're old I finally had the back at fullest turned into the wind come back limp around and anchor again and their eyes were like that. The Greek Captain told me mr. Pilot why you call these Lakes? These are seized and I made a Believer when the 25 vessels pulled anchor the next day. We were the last one to go and we had ballast that time to (00:43:32) what about the new story that has now gone across the country about the Great Lakes sailor that fell off his boat Sunday night into Lake Superior and apparently swam almost five miles to shore when you're hearing that report. Are you thinking that doesn't happen or does it sometimes happen do people fall off boats? (00:43:53) Well, I've only heard of it happen one other time off Copper Harbor and that was a pre-arranged deal where the father actually waited on the shore and it was in the summertime. In the fella drove off and the dad got them at eagle or a copper Harbor but I just heard about that coming in on the pilot boat. So I had no knowledge of that. (00:44:09) This is it is it hard to (00:44:10) picture? Yes. It is. Especially that distance in this cold water. (00:44:16) Hypothermia is a is a significant issue in this Lake and I've always been told that you have about a half an hour to survive in that water. So this is absolutely phenomenal remarkable if if the news accounts are as accurate as I hope they are but they'll be an investigation. I'm sure ones also already underway by both the Coast Guard and by the ship owners and and we'll see what ultimately develops here and some of the concerns that you could fall off. Could you picture this on one of your boat somebody dropping overboard and you not knowing about it for a couple hours and then spend another couple hours looking around the boat for my mean. Is it everyone kind of just going about their own jobs? They're certainly not a lot of crew members on (00:45:00) these. Boats know there's usually 22 to 24 crew at least on the foreign ships that I'm on but without a survival suit and with no marking and perhaps with dark clothing. I don't think there'd be much of a chance of finding somebody. I know many years ago one time on a foreign ship that the captain disappeared and I know that was kind of unusual in the they look for him. They found his sandals by the rail and and I wasn't the pilot on their Captain soderquist was and he told me it was quite a deal. He went up the next morning got up and where's a cat? No, we haven't seen him and there is got flops. Then they had the flip-flops are all they had in memories. He was gone. (00:45:40) That's the continues to be an issue. In fact that I think you've been involved to some degree with it heavy enough that ship was bound for delusional or dry (00:45:47) degrees in Lake Michigan. I don't believe it was solved what happened? So you don't know if that was (00:45:54) suicide or (00:45:56) an accident or he was thrown overboard. We don't know the coast. Are investigated the FBI (00:46:03) investigated? And you handle a lot of very sticky problems. Sometimes when these foreign Ships Come into Port it all gets sort of dumped in your lap doesn't that's correct. That's correct. Well, we had one just a year ago this summer a very sad one with that Ed was deeply involved in a ship carrying ammonium nitrate which was controversial to begin with there were a lot of folks in town who are very ill at ease with with ammonium nitrate in that quantity was almost 10,000 tons in bass super bags as they're called at the public Marine Terminal and deeply regrettably the captain committed suicide aboard this ship when it was here in Port. So then what do you do (00:46:51) Wow first thing happened to get a hold of the Coast Guard in the police? they came down and of course the they bring the ambulance with with them and they investigate. We have to notify the owner right away what happened and they're constantly on the phone with us what to do. The family has to be notified. We have to find out what the family wants to do. They want to body shipped home or buried in the Luthor cremated. Then you didn't want you get all that business solved in the coroner is there (00:47:40) and you're handling all this from a half a world (00:47:42) away, right and as the ship agents and thank God for the cell phone because you could contact all these people in one spot. (00:47:52) We're seeing shipping boats are getting bigger crews are getting smaller. Is that the direction it's going to continue to go. Well, as a matter of fact the we have a ship in right now of one of the wagon Borg new Dutch ships with the crew of nine plus two apprentices that the one of Things we've been saying lately is that if this goes to the ultimate will someday see ships with Crews composed of a captain and a dog and the dog will be there to bite the captain if he touches anything, we're halfway through this Main Street broadcast from the Duluth Harbor Our Guest Davis Helberg Edward rui SI and ship captain Dennis. Ah. Hello. I'm Rachael re be next hour. We're going to turn our attention to the boats on the bottom of Lake Superior. We'll talk to the people who have discovered some of them and others who explore and photographs shipwrecks efforts are underway to preserve and protect these underwater historic sites. It's all ahead of this Main Street special from the maritime Visitor Center in Duluth continues after the news.


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