I left Chester, Vermont in my little white truck on Sunday, June 18th somewhere around 6 AM. Anders had told me that he was expecting to be in Lambton, Ontario at 8 P.M. that night. it was going to be a 10 hour drive and I wanted to be sure to give myself extra time just in case I got lost somewhere. I also wanted to be there to see him dock the ship!
So off I went on a great sunny day. He called me when I got somewhere around Albany, New York, which is 3 hours from home. He told me that things were delayed and the ship wasn’t going to be in Lambton until around 1:30 A.M. So now I was going to have to get a room out there to wait for him. Okay, no problem, it was so close a few more hours of waiting would be way okay. I got lost once, in Burlington, Ontario but asked some nice lady how to find the route and she sent me on my way. I arrived at the St. Claire River around 4:30 pm and it was so beautiful! The first thing I saw was a big *Exclamation Point.
(look at a chart of the great lakes..there are !! these things everywhere..they look like exclamation points to me! But "sailor guys" call them lighthouses.)
Soon after that I saw a ship coming down the river and was amazed how quiet it was. I was really excited knowing that soon I would be seeing Anders! The butterflies were getting very very big!
I continued on my way until I came to Lambton, the Hydro plant that the ship would be docking at much later on. I wanted to find it in the daytime and not be searching for it at 1:30am!! So, after I found it I backtracked to find a hotel to stay at and found one about 4 minutes down the river. That way when he got there I would see him going by in the *Coolbeans (a term we use in Vermont meaning "way cool" , "far out" "awesome" or something like that. I started calling Anders ship the Coolbeans as I thought it was a pretty neat ship and it made it fun instead of sad when he went to work...?? Well not fun but made me so I didn't dislike the ship so much I guess. :o) Sometimes hard to Share!!)
I got a room at the Driftwood Marina Bar and Grill. There were a couple guys singing out on the back deck of the bar. I went to throw my stuff in my room and went down to the river, crashed on a dock and called my Mom, my kids and Anders to let everyone know I had arrived. I ended up falling asleep there for a bit then went in my room to take a nap. Around 7pm I woke up and realized there was going to be a beautiful sunset on the river so I got a blanket out of my truck and headed down to this nice park by the river. I sat and watched the sun go down all the while looking down river knowing that Anders was on his way and on my, I was very excited to see him! During this time the band was still playing and there was some tug of war practice going on at the bar so I had plenty of entertainment. Also some boaters gave me some extra entertainment as they tried to bring their 20' powerboat into the marina and didn't know how to drive it so they jumped out and pulled it in! It was very interesting! I was laughing thinking that Anders would really be enjoying that!!
After the sunset I walked back to my room and made a valiant attempt to fall asleep. I think I woke up about every hour waiting for my phone to ring and Anders to tell me he was there. I woke up around 12:30 and heard this sound outside so I went out to see what it was and I saw this ship going up the river. It was an Algoma ship that I knew because I could see a bear on the stack. I was hoping it was Anders but it wasn't. He called about an hour later and said he was almost there. I've never got ready to go anywhere so quick in my life! I was packing up my truck when I saw the ship go by all lit up It was so quiet just like a hum as it slowly went up the river.
I got the rest of my stuff in the truck and started up to meet the ship. I caught up with it really quickly and drove along side it for a while before Anders realized I was there. Shortly after I was in the spotlight as he put his search light on my truck! I was laughing so hard!! Good thing I was driving really slow! It was pretty neat though, then I drove ahead to meet him at the dock. There were a few people waiting there as well and we all watched the ship come in. It seemed like hours but I know it was just minutes. Some guy who was there looked at me and said to me "You must be Andy's girlfriend" yup that’s me! About 10 minutes later I looked up at the ship and I saw him walking down the deck my heart was racing like crazy! It was wonderful to see him again after being apart for 5 weeks we had a lot to catch up on!!
Anders and I drove my little truck over to the Hydro plant where the Security Guards had told him they would keep an eye on it for us. Then seeing as though it was 1:30 in the morning and it took 6 hours to unload the coal the Algolake (Coolbeans) was carrying we decided to get a few hours of sleep. The guys in the wheelhouse called and woke him up and we headed up to the wheelhouse. The Wheelhouse is a pretty impressive place with all the computers and other "gadgets" up there first thing on the agenda was to go to the Fuel Docks and “gas er up”, than after a couple hours we were on our way. It was a beautiful sunny day as we headed up the river and on our way to Lake Huron.
After we were out on the lake we headed down to the galley for some breakfast. Wow, I could see I wouldn't be hungry while I was there! The galley staff was great, everyone had a great sense of humor and they made me feel right at home. The day went by pretty fast and I saw my first sunset on ship.
It was pretty amazing beginning back out on a lake, after practically growing up on one. "Little Lake Champlain" (as Anders calls it ) I really felt so good being out on the water again, of course it was a little different because of the "vehicle" I was in! The ship was very quiet while it was underway and there wasn't any rocking motion to say so (since the lake was so calm) but it sure wiggled a lot. I told Anders it felt like I was sitting on a washing machine! Poor thing doesn't like the shallow water, but Anders takes real good care of her and she seems to listen to him .
The next day sometime we were in the St. Marys River and up into the Soo Locks. Now that was pretty amazing! Going through the river, Anders had to be sure that everyone on shore was awake because he was. So I heard that horn a few times, what a nut!!! When we arrived at the locks I really had no idea what to expect, I had seen them online before but everything for sure looked different from way up in the ship. I swear it didn't look like the ship would fit in there at all. Anders was being silly telling me he was sure it had shrunk since the last time he was there! But of course he fit it in and it was really interesting to watch for sure! There were a lot of people there in the viewing stand and they were all really excited when Anders came to the window to wave at them. I was really proud to there with him. Of course they got to hear the horn blast too, and everyone in the wheelhouse got a great laugh from watching everyone jump!
After the locks we were headed out on Lake Superior, the rain started coming then and the wind picked up. I had to pull out my long pants to go back outside again. The fog rolled in and I could hear the fog horn blasting on the bow of the ship. I think he said that he goes off every two minutes
I really thought it was pretty cool, hearing the fog horn, listening to the sound of the engines, being out in the middle of the lake where you could see nothing but fog everywhere.
Actually was quite peaceful though I loved walking out on the deck. The waves started coming over the bow of the ship out in the middle of the lake and it was so neat! I wanted to go up front and get splashed by them but Anders didn't want to get wet. He told me he’d watch though and stand on the deck at hatch 4! Needless to say I didn't go...maybe next time!
Anders and I walked around outside several times. It was so incredible to lean over and watch the waves, the ship puts out a pretty good wake too. When she goes by land, Anders pointed out that the water gets sucked off the shore and after she goes by the water goes back. It's an amazing thing to watch. The kids on shore love to play in the waves it makes too.
I spent every minute Anders worked in the wheelhouse with him. I really enjoyed watching every moment. Pretty amazing actually, seeing him dock a ship that’s longer than the town we live in. (well almost! )The guys in the wheelhouse were pretty cool too and before too long they knew what an exclamation point was too.
He’s a nut! Anders made a point of having me notice that where he has to sign his name it says "signature of MASTER" and in his room it says "CERTIFIED FOR THE MASTER" heck even in his bathroom. He also has a phone EVERYWHERE! One in the living room, on the wall next to his bed (very annoying!) in the bathroom, and a few in his office and a bunch upstairs in the wheelhouse! Guess when they want the sailor guy they get the sailor guy!
I don't know what day (I had a hard time figuring out what day of the week it was while I was there!) We arrived in Duluth in the late afternoon sometime after dinner. Now that was pretty awesome! Going under the aerial bridge, there were a bunch of people (they call themselves "boatnerds" ) standing waiting for the ship to pass by, the loudspeaker was announcing the ship and telling people about where it was coming from, going to, what she was carrying and who the "Captain guy" was. Of course the horn blew the salute and everyone cheered, it was a pretty neat thing to see! The weather was kind of cruddy so Anders said there weren't as many people there as usual but it was pretty impressive to me. The wind was pretty strong, in fact,they said we were having gale force winds so Anders set to work getting ready to concentrate on docking the ship at Murphy's Oil dock. I can't even explain how I felt while I was watching, listening to the guys spotting the distances for him, watching the deckhands prepare to dock,
While we were "gassing up" the customs and Immigration guys came up to his office and I had to answer a few questions from them, no big deal and then who appeared at the door? None other then Ken Newhams from the Duluth Shipping News! He and I had been corresponding for several weeks after Anders asked him to send me a picture of the Algolake that he had taken. Anders, invited him to join us for dinner after he had taken a few pictures of us. So we went down and had a great dinner (one of many) and visited with Ken until they were done fueling the ship. He took a photo of us in Anders office too.
Then back up to the wheelhouse to prepare to get underway again. I believe it was this dock that Anders had to turn the ship around and back her under a bridge and to the dock behind it. Now that was pretty cool! Of course he made it look really easy, when we got fairly close to the bridge I could hear the deck hands spotting and Anders told me to come over where he was so I could see what I could see of the bridge. Of course the guys were spotting the bridge abutments, which were totally invisible to Anders. But he knew very well where he was I know. Makes me smile now to think about how incredibility good he is at what he does. When we got to the dock and started loading he and I got a taxi and went to the Mall in Duluth, Minnesota. We had a great time just walking around picking up the little things he needed for the ship and trying to find a place to mail a package for my brother Jeff. ( A hat Anders was sending him) Never did find a mailbox big enough so it would have to wait till the mail boat in Detroit. We got back to the ship and took a nap and waited for the guys to call him back to work. I believe that night we headed back out around 2am. Even then there were several people waiting at the bridge to watch the ship pass by, and Anders had a good time using the searchlight on them! One couple tried to hide from it behind a lamppost but he got um! It was pretty funny ! After we got underway we went back down and got some sleep.
The fog banks on Lake Superior..no way to explain what it feels like out there...I tell everyone I feel closer to God.... I told Anders I could see why he loves to sail so much and I envy him.. As I'm working on this new website I wish I had a better camera when I went on this trip! That comes in the later stories though!
Back to the Soo Locks again...this time Anders and his Wheelsman Norm checked out the people on the viewing decks to see who would jump the furthest when he sounded the horn...pretty funny. I don't think either one of them picked the right person because they all jumped pretty good. Everyone was taking pictures and the little kids were so excited to see the Captain and of course the Captain was waving back to all of them. Its got to be the best part of the job from what I can see.. :o)
Anders hung out "my flags" for me and they hung out there for several days and nights...he said so other people would know that DH was onboard the ship of course they did..he hung them up ...nobody else dared to take them down!
After going through the locks we went down the Saint Marys River...River???? There was much discussion at that point to the fact that it sure LOOKED like a lake, and after examining the chart it does appear that there a couple of Lakes IN the river hmmmm Either way it sure was beautiful, I believe it takes 10 hours to go through the River (Lake) so Anders was pretty busy as you can imagine.. We all kid him about his job telling him he has it easy...but I think we all know better really..
Soon we were out on Lake Huron and headed back down the St. Claire River. We waved at my little truck as we passed by Lambton where we left her parked there. I really think the St. Claire River was my favorite part it was really very pretty, lots of things to look at, and the lake in the middle was the most beautiful sight I believe I have seen in a long time The color was almost turquoise and I swear it looked like the ocean.
Coming up to detroit so my brothers hat would be mailed on the J.W. Westcott the little mailboat that delivers all the ships mail..he sure was busy that day as there were many ships going up and down the river around us..Anders and I sure have kept the little guy busy!!
Now we headed down what I renamed Exclamation point alley its actually a channel leading into Lake Erie unfortunately you can't see all the little exclamation points all the way down in the photo above but trust me its very very pretty!!!
From there we headed out onto Lake Erie and onto Nanticoke, Ontario to the Hydro plant. While the ship was unloading Anders and I went for a walk outside it was a beautiful sunny day the best weather day we had seen yet. There were rabbits and geese on the front lawn pretty neat. :o) When we got back to the ship I took advantage of the sun and went out to the deck to catch some rays but the poor captain guy had to do captain guy stuff. But he soon joined me, so we stayed out in the sun for an hour or so and I do believe I fell asleep out there for a while. While we were there a barge came in to load oil that was pretty interesting watching them. Later that evening we headed back out onto the Lake again to head towards Sandusky,
As we approached Sandusky, cedar point was ahead of us. When we got closer, you could hear the screams from all the people riding on the roller coasters! Better them than me!!! Maybe another day. :o) Another beautiful day so Anders and I decided to go for a walk into town. It was really nice...although really warm and as we walked by swimming pools I really wanted to dive in! The town was pretty vacant but very pretty, some interesting displays in the windows, which got us laughing pretty hard! (We seem to do a lot of that anyway! :o) We found a place to have a cool drink and rested a bit then did some shopping, Anders bought me some little sticky flags of my initials (like he had hung up on the ship) I decided he should help me stick them on my truck after we bought some with his initials too. After that we went down to the lake and watched some silly pirate ship, found a place to eat dinner and got an ice cream. Some high school girl found out he was a captain on a ship and I thought she was going to scream she was so excited...it was pretty funny and pretty cool too :o)
Walking back to the ship and getting ready to climb back aboard The Algolake is pretty impressive site...she definitely is "cool beans" On the way back we walked back past all the freight cars that were going to be loaded on the ship. I believe he said 350 cars of coal go on it, took us quite a while to walk by them all! But was very interesting to see how they go about loading it all.
Going by Detroit was a pretty neat place ,there was a lot of interesting things going on there for sure a big party going on at one of the docks too but I couldn't get Anders to stop so I could go though.. :)
All to soon we were on our way back to Lambton and to the end of an incredible journey. When we got there Anders took me out for pizza and we sat by the river saw a few ships go by. It was a nice night and there was going to be a really nice sunset. We went to check me back into the Driftwood Motel since I would be driving back home in the morning. Then we went back to the ship and got my stuff together, I for sure didn't want to leave. He walked me to my truck and we said our goodbyes. Then I drove back to my Motel, watched the sun go down and went to bed and got off for home early the next day.
I can't wait to go back on the lakes with him again but right now I'm looking forward to having him home!!!
story by Donna Hastings trip was June 18th thru June 27th 2000
On the "Coolbeans" (better known as the Algolake) with Captain Anders A. Rasmussen and his crewn