Holy Ships!

I made the drive down the shore yesterday to attend a cross-country ski meet in Duluth. The temperature was hovering around zero, give or take a few degrees, and the sea smoke on Lake Superior was impressive. As I rounded the corner into Duluth and glanced out at the lake I had to do a triple take. The fog was especially thick and I could see a bunch of large dark spots on the lake. I can usually pick out an ore boat from shore but there were so many dark spots and I was driving. It took me quite awhile to determine the spots were indeed 1000 foot long ore ships, 8 of them to be exact! I don’t think I have ever seen that many ships hanging out in the water at one time. I had my camera along and thought about stopping to take a photo but I didn’t.

It turns out I wasn’t the only person to think the number of ships in Duluth was a bit peculiar. This morning I found an online article explaining why there were so many ships anchored. The freezing cold weather has hampered the unloading and loading of ships causing a back up.

Eight ships are seen at anchor on Lake Superior on Monday as seen from Skyline Parkway above downtown Duluth. (Bob King / DNT)
photo by Bob King Duluth News Tribune

Most of us know not everything functions properly when the temperature plummets. Locks get frozen, batteries die and water lines freeze up just to name a few of the things that happen during a prolonged cold spell.   It turns out train brakes can freeze, conveyors can stiffen up, hatches on ships can become encased by ice and iron ore pellets bond with ice. All of these things cause delays in the everyday business of shipping. With the closing of the Soo Locks on the 15th of the month the ships are impatiently waiting for their turn and hoping to beat the ice and the calendar.

Photo by Bob King Duluth News Tribune

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