The Start of a New Season

At the Port of Monroe, the most difficult part of our year is determining when the old shipping season ends and the new one begins. Other ports around the Great Lakes are closed for the winter, as are the Soo Locks and St. Lawrence Seaway, but the Port of Monroe has remained open.

Last week, the tanker Iver Bright called on our Turning Basin dock to discharge liquid asphalt. The tanker was assisted to and from the berth by the tug Georgia. The Georgia, one of many tugs operated by the Great Lakes Towing Company, provides ship assistance and icebreaking services so that vessels can safely call on the Port in the winter. There hasn’t been any ice to contend with in the River Raisin lately, but we’ve certainly had our share of winter weather.

This week, the Harvest Spirit made its first visit of the season, calling on our riverfront dock with a load of steel coils. The Harvest Spirit was built in 2012 at the Sefine Shipyard in Altinova, Turkey as the Zealand Juliana, and visited the Great Lakes a handful of times during its career on saltwater. Its name was shortened to Juliana in 2015 and McKeil purchased the vessel in 2020.

It is just over 500 feet long, 73 feet 10 inches wide, and 35 feet 5 inches deep. As its name suggests, the Harvest Spirit is primarily used to carry grain. These trips typically begin in Thunder Bay, ON and end at Windsor, ON. From Windsor, it is a quick trip across Lake Erie to Nanticoke, ON. where the ship’s steel coil cargoes originate from.

The steel is manufactured by Stelco and staged for shipment by vessel. The Harvest Spirit’s three deck-mounted cranes make it the perfect vessel to haul coiled steel. The Nanticoke-Monroe route is a year-round transportation solution for regional manufacturers, as it is much more efficient to move 500 or more coils by water than by truck or rail. Once the coils are offloaded at Monroe, the Port’s terminal operator DRM Terminal Services ensure that coils are efficiently loaded for last-mile delivery to customers.

After delivering coils to Monroe, the Harvest Spirit assumes its regular Thunder Bay-Windsor trade route. Since joining the McKeil fleet, the Harvest Spirit has become one of the most frequent callers to the Port of Monroe. It’s also one of the busiest ships on the Great Lakes, operating at a time while other cargo vessels are still wintering. That will change in the coming weeks, as crews report back to fit-out vessels in advance of the new shipping season. In Monroe, that season has already begun.

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