Friday, July 8, 2011

Third Day Observations

My third full day at the lake began and ended with some unusual sights.

It started when I got up about 6 a.m. and found this behemoth on the northern horizon perfectly centered in the cottage's picture window:

I'd gone to the lake hoping to see an endless line of these freighters passing by - the lazy buses of the Great Lakes perhaps pausing long enough to blow their horns at me as they ferried coal and iron ore and grain from the people who have them to the people who need them.

I quickly learned that my cottage in Vermilion was too far away from the main shipping lanes in the middle of the lake for me to see much of anything beyond the occasional fishing boat and pleasure craft.

I'd long before given up on seeing any freighter at all when this baby popped up out of nowhere to welcome me to the new day.

Wow! What an unexpected treat - and one that seemed to belong to me alone as the rest of the world apparently slumbered on completely oblivious to the technological marvel passing by.

At first the freighter didn't seem to be moving at all, but of course it was - just too slowly to notice immediately.

In less than 30 minutes it had disappeared entirely into the west.

I don't know why it was sailing so much farther south than all its cousins. Maybe it was one of those relatively rare freighters that was headed to Sandusky instead of Toledo or the Detroit River. Maybe it was terribly off course for unknown reasons. Maybe it had been commandeered by Somalian pirates!

After it was gone I was left to ponder how close I had come to missing it entirely.

And to wonder what else might be going on out there on the lake that only a lucky glance at the right time might reveal.

If a 700-foot-long freighter loaded with more than 15,000 tons of stuff can silently slip by without my knowing it, what might not?


Fourteen hours later the view had changed considerably as a series of storms drifted by in the opposite direction:

I would have reached out and petted them if I could have - even the one that looks something like a funnel cloud. Instead, I just sat and watched as occasional flashes of lightning danced over and around and through the puffed-up grayness.

The water remained remarkably calm throughout.

It was *much* rougher the next morning. I guess there's a significant time lag between storm and stir.

Or maybe a whole fleet of freighters went churning by in the middle of the night while I slept....


  1. It seems like you had a nice vacation. Very lovely pictures, I love the storm clouds.

  2. You might have enjoyed visiting with Klutz and me and Fish Taco Lover and watching the freighters passing under the Mackinac Bridge on the last Saturday afternoon of June.
    I don't remember any personal watercraft, but the traffic was punctuated with the ferries traveling to Mackinac Island, including the Arnold Line with its patented rooster-tail catamarans.
    Image Googling Arnold Ferry produces a surprising number of skin shots of Arnold Schwarzengubner.
    I'll spare you with this link:
    There's lots of iron ore boats in the Straits because many mines on the Superior Range railroad their ore to Escanaba, which is on Lake Michigan. So a lot of ore boats go back and forth between Escanaba and Detroit, Cleveland and parts south and east. And by east I mean west, as in China whose construction boom has revived the iron mining bidness.
    Nevertheless, a lot of ore boats go through the Soo Locks and traverse Lake Superior to get the goods. That's a lot more scenic route for the ship, but can be harder on the crew. They haven't lost a crew since 1975.
    I'll stop now.

  3. If you woulda had your 26x zoom on the third day you might have converged on sailors peeing off the poop deck in the first series of pictures.

  4. Mama mia!!! Such pictures! I like 'em all a lot, but particularly that one where the sun is shining a golden orange reflection through all the cloudy haze... I don't see trawlers on Lake Washington, but when I cross the Puget Sound en route to Bremerton, I often see huge ships, both freighters AND battleships. Guess maybe I should actually post some pics, eh?

    The oddest thing about seeing the trees next to the water, is that somehow they look tropical, even though they're not. I like the movement in the last picture, showing the leaves rustling in the wind ~