Friday, October 6, 8:00 p.m., Marine Museum. Open slide night featuring a limited number of slides from each member dealing with his summer marine activities.
Friday, November 3 - A visit to the Burlington plant of the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, the facility from which the research vessels MARTIN KARLSEN and LIMNOS operate. Details to follow in the October issue.
The subject of meetings has received much consideration by your Executive after the abortive attempt to operate a dinner meeting in May. It was decided that no further dinner meetings will be held until such time as the general membership expresses sufficient interest. May we hear your views? In addition, it has been decided that the practice of sending postcard notices of upcoming meetings to residents in the general area of Toronto will be discontinued. It appeared that we were only wasting our money since the Post Office on numerous occasions saw fit not to deliver these cards until some considerable time (as much as three weeks) after the meeting. We have the schedule for upcoming meetings completed and you will receive ample notice of meetings in the pages of this publication.
The Editor's Notebook
This being the last issue of SCANNER for the current volume, your Editor would like to express his thanks to all those who have helped make our job easier by submitting news, articles and suggestions. Please keep them coming!
As we are about to enter the new Society year, may we remind all members that Membership Fees are now due. No billing or invoice will be sent so please act now and send us your remittance. Please note that fees are Seven Dollars per annum CANADIAN FUNDS,
In the new member department, a most cordial welcome goes out to Robert G. Nelson of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and to Patrick Chambers of Mackinac Island.
Cecil E. Stein
It is with deep regret that we report the death at Leamington, Ontario, on August 7, 1972, of Mr. Cecil E. Stein, a valued member of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
Mr. Stein, who was 62 years of age at the time of his death, was born in Kincardine, Ontario, and lived latterly in Wheatley where he operated for a number of years an egg and poultry station. He had long been an avid marine historian and his interests ran strongly to the sailing vessels which were once such an integral part of the lake shipping scone. He belonged to eight other historical societies in addition to T.M.H.S.
He had written two books, "The Wreck of the Erie Belle" and "Legends of the Lakes", and was also a frequent contributor to the papers of the southwestern Ontario region.
Our Society and many other groups will be the poorer for his passing.
Our readers will recall that during the autumn of 1971 the Kinsman Marine Transit (or to be more correct, its parent firm - the American Shipbuilding Company) was conducting negotiations for the purchase of the lake shipping operations of Litton Industries Inc., namely the Wilson Marine Transit Company and Erie Marine Inc. The sale did not go through and this season Wilson has only been able to operate three vessels, BEN MOREELL, A.T. LAWSON and THOMAS WILSON, and has had scarcely enough business to keep even these in service. It was obvious that some news would be coming forward soon regarding Wilson's future and it was hence with very little surprise that we learned that the sale to Kinsman of the Wilson division of Litton (but not Erie Marine) was finally completed on August 15th. Almost immediately, the U.S. Justice Department commenced an action under the anti-trust laws to prohibit the sale which, if completed, would leave Kinsman with a strangle-hold on the independent shipping trade. At the time of writing, it appeared that the sale had in fact been completed but that a deal was worked out whereby Kinsman would purchase only three ships currently in operation. This leaves the future of the other Wilson ships together with some of the older Steinbrenner steamers in considerable doubt.
The American Shipbuilding Company has made two other important purchases during the summer. During May, the company bought the Tampa Ship Repair and Drydock Co. Inc., from Sparkman Channel Terminal Inc., Tampa, Florida, and this sale gives AmShip its first yard off the lakes. Then the firm bought the Great Lakes Towing Company which has a virtual monopoly on harbour towing at U.S. lake ports. There is no change planned in the appearance of the G tugs.
It was announced recently by the Interlake Steamship Company (Pickands Mather & Co.) that a contract had been let to Fraser Shipyards Inc., Superior, Wisconsin, for the lengthening of the steamer JOHN SHERWIN to 806 feet. This operation will be similar to that performed last winter on the SHERWIN'S sister ship CHARLES M. BEEGHLY. The job is scheduled for completion in April, 1973. Along with the lengthening, SHERWIN will get a sternthruster and automated oil fuel.
While on the subject of Pickands Mather, we should report that the firm sold its steamer HENRY G. DALTON to Dwor Metals Ltd. (Marine Salvage Ltd.) on June 26th. It appears that she will soon move to Humberstone for scrapping. Readers will remember that DALTON was lying at Buffalo where she suffered severe damage to her after cabin as a result of a galley fire,
The month of July saw the completion of the sale of the small salt water carrier GOSFORTH from the Burnett Steamship Co. Ltd., to Trico Enterprises Ltd., a Hamilton, Bermuda, subsidiary of the Ontario Paper Company Ltd. Rechristened THOROLD (IV), the ship is now registered at St. Catharines. After refitting at Sorel, she departed on her first trip with paper from Baie Comeau to Florida.
The Escanaba Towing Company's cranebarge (formerly craneship) O.S. MCFARLAND has been sold to the Hyman Michaels Company and was moved to the firm's scrapyard at Duluth in early July, The condition of the ship is not such as to permit her to be towed across the Atlantic and it looks as if she will end her days in Duluth.
Subsequent to the merger of the Sinclair Refining Company and the Atlantic Richfield Company, the two Sinclair lake tankers SINCLAIR GARY and SINCLAIR GREAT LAKES have been renamed GARY and GREAT LAKES respectively. The two motorships operate almost exclusively on Lake Michigan.
Subsequent to the commissioning of the SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II), whose troubles are related elsewhere in this issue, the Erie Sand Steamship Company disposed of its older vessel ALPENA to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping. When the SMITH was lost by collision, it was not feasible to refit the ALPENA due to her condition and also the fact that much equipment had been removed from her and placed in the newly acquired SMITH. Accordingly, to fill the very large gap left by the loss of the SMITH, the company has purchased the self-unloading bulk carrier JACK WIRT from the American Steamship Company (Boland and Cornelius, Buffalo). As of mid-August, the WIRT had gained the Erie Sand funnel colours but was otherwise unchanged from BoCo livery. Mr. Smith of Erie Sand, no doubt anxious to avoid even the thought of another tragedy, has decided against changing the name of the JACK WIRT!
The Algoma Central Railway Company has let it bo known that it will not operate its veteran steamer MICHIPICOTEN after the end of this season. The ship has been running almost exclusively in the Toledo to Sault Ste. Marie coal trade but she will soon be replaced by the new self-unloader ALGOWAY which is due to be delivered by Collingwood Shipyards in September.
On August 8th, a contract was let by Inland Steel Corp., for the building of two 1000-foot bulk carriers at Sturgeon Bay. The Bay Shipbuilding yard, recently moved from Manitowoc to Sturgeon Bay due to the lack of room for building large vessels at Manitowoc, already is building one vessel for Boland and Cornelius, The Inland Steel ships are scheduled for delivery in 1974 and 1975 respectively. If Inland retains its reputation for building very good-looking vessels, perhaps wo can look for something reasonably attractive by way of design for the new ships. How about a 1000-foot version of WILFRED SYKES?
At long last all of the "Big Three" lakers are in operation. With CHARLES M. BEEGHLY and STEWART J. CORT already in operation, we were waiting only for U.S. Steel's ROGER M. BLOUGH, The BLOUGH underwent her dock trials on June 8th and her sea trials on June 12th. She cleared Lorain on her maiden voyage at 1:30 a.m. June 15th and since has been operating regularly with the exception of a throe-week period in late July when she returned to Lorain for modifications in an attempt to reduce vibration. We understand that she is to return to the shipyard again this winter for further work.
The small excursion vessel NIAGARA BELLE which has operated in past seasons on the upper Niagara River, passed down the Welland Canal on May 13 enroute to Toronto where she is now running excursions from Ontario Place, the new pavilion complex operated by the provincial government. The three-decked diesel vessel is fitted out to resemble, albeit very remotely, a traditional Western riverboat but the effect is entirely ruined by a very disproportionate fake sternwheel. She has been renamed MARIPOSA BELLE.
The first major accident of the 1972 navigation season occurred on May 4th and involved the tanker VENUS. The motorship, owned by Cleveland Tankers Inc., was downbound in the St. Lawrence Seaway on a trip from Ogdensburg, N. Y., to Montreal. She was beset by fog and anchored some six miles upstream from Cornwall. The crew proceeded to use the time to clean the vessel's tanks and it was during this operation that two severe explosions occurred, causing extensive damage to the ship. Four crewmen were injured and the vessel's master was killed. VENUS was lying in Canadian waters at the time of the explosions and accordingly the authorities permitted her to be taken to a Canadian shipyard. She was repaired at the facilities of Marine Industries Ltd, Sorel, and has since re-entered service.
The United States Maritime Administration has approved a two-year operating subsidy for eight vessels of the American Steamship Company operating between Canadian and American lake ports. To take effect in 1973, the contract is the first of its type ever approved by the agency and the subsidy itself is estimated to be approximately one million dollars. One result of the deal is that Boland and Cornelius tonnage may be seen on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It is rumoured that other American lake shipping firms may apply for similar subsidies.
Forty-three years ago this autumn, on the night of October 22nd, 1929, the Grand Trunk Railway's Lake Michigan carferry MILWAUKEE sailed out of her namesake port enroute to Grand Haven, Michigan, with a full load of railway cars. The ship was never seen again and was presumed to have foundered in heavy seas that were sweeping down the open lake at the time. However, it was announced this spring that a group of divers has located the wreck of the big ferry lying in an upright position in 122 feet of water less than ten miles from Milwaukee harbour entrance. Artifacts recovered by the divers have proved the identity of the wreck and it is hoped that something may now be learned of the cause of the steamer's sinking.
At long last, the refurbishing of the former steam tug NED HANLAN in her new berth next to the Marine Museum of Upper Canada, Toronto, has been completed. On July 28th, the vessel was officially opened to the public in a gala ceremony at which the tug was christened with a bottle of bubbly by the Misses Hanlan, the two daughters of the famous oarsman for whom the tug was named. Following the ceremonies and inspection of the tug by invited guests, a banquet was held in Hanlan Court, the newly landscaped area in front of the museum building.
There has been much speculation recently concerning the new names which the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company would choose for its recently-acquired steamers RAYMOND H. REISS and WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR., as the firm had let it be known that both would be rechristened shortly. Nevertheless, no action was taken at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the company in July and it looks as if we shall have to wait a while longer.
It has been confirmed that the city of Superior, Wisconsin, has acquired the whaleback tanker METEOR from Cleveland Tankers Inc. The veteran steamer is to be towed from her present lay-up berth at Manitowoc during the summer. The METEOR, which was built at Superior by the American Steel Barge Company in 1896, is due to become a museum and a special berth will be built for her at Barker's Island.
Speaking of museums, we should report that Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historical Sites Inc., operators of the museum ship VALLEY CAMP at the Michigan Soo, have been presented by the Great Lakes Towing Company with the long-disused wrecking tug FAVORITE which was stationed at the Soo for many years. FAVORITE was towed to the Soo by LAURENCE C. TURNER, leaving Cleveland on August 18. The group has also obtained a quarterboat from the Corps. of Engineers, this item being a scow on which is built a wooden two-decked cabin much resembling a barn with windows. It was used for accommodating workmen on long jobs.
Earlier in this issue, we reported that Bay Shipyards Inc., Sturgeon Bay, had received an order for two new ships for Inland Steel. We neglected to mention that they have also landed a contract for another self-unloading bulk carrier for the American Steamship Company. This means that Boland and Cornelius will have one new ship building at Toledo and two at Sturgeon Bay.
While on the subject of shipbuilding, we have heard that the Algoma Central Railway is interested in building a self-unloader similar to J. W. McGIFFIN. Since C.S.L. is already building such a ship at Collingwood, we suspect that Algoma might purchase this hull while it is under construction. We understand that Algoma doesn't think much of the McGIFFIN's looks, but that her ability to carry money-earning loads is most pleasing to the firm.
Greene Line Steamers Inc. has announced plans to build a new riverboat to complement the services provided by the veteran DELTA QUEEN. The vessel will be 365 feet in length and will be powered by gas turbines. Hull tests were completed by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in May. Incidentally, with the retirement this year of Congressman Garmatz, the chairman of the House Merchant Marine Committee, and his replacement by Leonor K. Sullivan, a long-time supporter of the DELTA QUEEN, the survival of the older steamer past the 1973 deadline for her operation seems reasonably certain.
As of the time of writing, we have not heard whether ROCKCLIFFE HALL has entered service as a tanker yet; however, we have some information on how she will look after the conversion is complete. The rebuilt motorship will have all her cabins aft and a salt-water type curved bow with no bulb on it. The conversion will increase her overall length by about six feet.
The former Reiss and Boland straight-deck bulk carrier JOHN P. REISS has been moved from Whitby to Hamilton after the removal of her bowthruster which has been placed in OREFAX. It appears that both she and OTTO M. REISS will be scrapped but it is not yet clear whether this will be done at Hamilton or in Europe.
Scrapping operations have begun in Ramey's Bend at Humberstone on THORO (a) CARMI A. THOMPSON, (b) THOROLD (III). It seems that there was an immediate demand for scrap steel in the Port Colborne area and thus cutting was begun more quickly than had been planned by Marine Salvage Ltd. It also appears that this same firm may be looking for an overseas buyer for C.G. POST.
The French bulk carrier CHRISTINE found her way into trouble in Lake Nicolet on the St. Mary's River late in July when she ran aground during a heavy fog. Two tugs from Escanaba Towing Company and two from the McLean Towing Company managed to free the ship on July 26th after she had spent a week in the mud.
Blue Water Tragedy
On Sunday, June 4th, 1972, a goodly number of our Detroit area members were making their weekly trip on the excursion steamer to Bob-Lo Island, a relatively short voyage down the river from Detroit. They were very pleased to see and photograph the self-unloading bulk carrier SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II) as few had seen her in her new colours, those of the Erie Sand Steamship Co. which had purchased the vessel last winter and had just placed her in service after a major refit. None of the photographers could have guessed that they would never again see the SMITH operating.
SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. upbound in the Detroit River with coal for Lime Island, June 4, 1972, less than twelve hours prior to her loss by collision. Photo by David T. Glick.At the time she passed Detroit, the SMITH was upbound with a load of coal for Lime Island, a vessel bunkering station in the St. Mary's River. She proceeded up the Detroit River, across Lake St. Clair and by the early hours of June 5th was passing the cities of Sarnia and Port Huron at the upper end of the St. Clair River.
Just before 2:00 a.m., the SMITH was making the turn around the C.S.L. dock at Point Edward and attempting to straighten away for the run up under the Blue Water Bridge and out into Lake Huron. At the same time, the Canadian steamer PARKER EVANS of the Hindman Transportation Co. Ltd., Owen Sound, was downbound under the bridge. At this point in the river, there is a very fast current running and the SMITH apparently failed to negotiate the turn to starboard. The efforts of her Second Mate, who was the only officer on watch in the pilothouse (the Master had gone to bed previously), to correct the course of the SMITH wore in vain and the vessel swung to port across the path of PARKER EVANS. The SMITH was struck on the starboard side and immediately began taking water through the wound which was just aft of the forward cabins. She is alleged to have struck the dock of the Peerless Cement Company and then drifted downstream settling as she went. In a very short distance, she sank and rolled over onto her starboard side, blocking a considerable portion of the already narrow shipping channel. Her crewmen were rescued by the Sarnia pilot boat which had heard the danger signals sounded by the sinking vessel.
When she came to rest on the bottom, the SMITH's bow extended over a deep cut leading to the Peerless wharf and it was not long before the ship began to crack under the weight of the cargo of coal and the unloading equipment. Seeing that the hull was breaking up and hoping to avoid spillage of the vessel's bunker oil, efforts were made to begin pumping the Bunker C from the wreck. McQueen Marine Ltd. used a derrick, oil scow, and the tug AMHERSTBURG for this purpose, but the operation was slow due to unseasonably cold weather which turned the oil very thick and heavy. All the oil was removed by mid-June and just in time, for the stern section of the wreck was slipping outwards toward the middle of the channel and the bow was dropping into deeper water. Finally the two sections separated and the bow fell off to settle on its starboard side in very deep water.
At first it was suggested that the vessel might be salvaged and Erie Sand was understandably reluctant to give up hope that its new steamer might yet sail again. However, it became more clear as time passed that SMITH was beyond hope of salvage for future operation and the owners officially abandoned the wreck at 4:00 p.m., June 21st.
Almost immediately, the Corps. of Engineers, U. S. Army, moved in to attempt salvage. By early August, the stern section had been partially floated by means of plastic foam inserted into the hull. Once a degree of buoyancy was attained, the stern was hauled by cables towards the shore where it was secured to anchors sunk in solid ground. The same method of salvage is being used on the bow at the time of writing; however, this job will be more difficult in view of the 85 feet of water in which divers must operate.
In addition, much trouble is being caused by passing vessels and especially by cruisers on the river which threw up extremely large wakes. Current estimates call for the job to be completed sometime in October and lake shipping companies undoubtedly are hoping that there will be no delays since at present, one way traffic only is being permitted past the wreck and vessels must often go to anchor and await their turn to pass.
To show the difficulty encountered by vessels trying to pass the wreck, it is reported that the buoy placed above and to the east of the sunken SMITH has been knocked out of position by other ships on almost a dozen occasions. A very narrow escape from disaster was made on August 15 by the barge WILTRANCO whose towline snapped while passing downbound near the remains of the SMITH. The barge was recaptured by its tug before anything serious occurred.
PARKER EVANS received surprisingly little damage in the accident. She did dent her bow rather severely, but she was never in danger of sinking. After the incident, she anchored near the American shore and then went to Sarnia where her grain cargo was removed. She proceeded to Port Weller where the damage was repaired but unfortunately, on her first upbound trip after the repairs were completed, she was in collision with a salt water vessel in Lake Huron some distance above Point Edward. Damage in this accident was minor.
Meanwhile, the lawyers for the parties involved are getting their cases ready. Already one action has been commenced by the owners of the coal cargo and others are expected. Until a decision on liability is reached, the costs of removal of the wreck are being borne by the U. S. Coast Guard.
Until the wreck is removed end the two sections of the ship floated off to scrapyards, photographers and observers can get a good look at the wreck from both sides of the river as well as from the Blue Water Bridge. In addition, the salvage operations are most interesting to watch.
Ship of the Month No. 23
By Skip Gillham
"The .... big, graceful, red-hulled RENVOYLE of Midland. She is an old sweetheart; whether one meets her on the Upper Lakes or the Toronto Waterfront, she is always a Queen. She has a bold flaring bow that sheds the sea, a long sweet curving sheer that springs her up to meet the next one, and a stern as graceful as a clipper ship's, despite the fact that she tucks a stockless anchor under her starboard quarter like a hanky peeping from a hip pocket."
C. H. J. Snider, Schooner Days, CCCLXXVII, December 24, 1938.
"The big, graceful, red-hulled RENVOYLE" enters Toronto Eastern Gap in July 1958. Photo by the EditorThe above description of the package freighter RENVOYLE, especially coming from Mr. Snider who was a great fan of the sailing ship and looked on few steamers with favour, catches the beauty of this veteran. We recall her on many occasions moored majestically by the old Canada Steamship Lines docks at the foot of Bay Street in Toronto, her steering pole extended over Queen's Quay as if in triumph. At other times we watched her slice through the waters of Toronto Bay enroute to the Western Gap and Lake Ontario, She has always been a favourite and it is a pleasure to present her story.
RENVOYLE was originally named GLENLEDI. She was built as a canaller by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., of Wallsend-on-Tyne, England. They designed her as their Hull 1144 and she was launched in July of 1925. Upon completion, she was turned over to the Great Lakes Navigation Co. (the Glen Line) and sailed for Canada. Her cargo on this maiden voyage was steel plate which was to be used for lengthening the steamer once she had penetrated the small and confining locks below Lake Erie.
GLENLEDI measured 253 feet in length, 44.3 feet in the beam and 23.9 feet in depth. She entered Collingwood Shipyards in October 1925 and emerged the following spring with a length of 379.1 feet. Her tonnage was 3,571 Gross and 2,172 Net tons.
Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. purchased many of the Glen Lino vessels in 1926 and among these was GLENLEDI, She sailed the 1926 season as such and early in 1927 was renamed RENVOYLE. This was the second C.S.L. ship to carry this name, the previous RENVOYLE being a 1910-built canaller which had foundered on salt water on April 12, 1920.
RENVOYLE was placed in the package freight trade. Her service was confined to the Upper Lakes before the opening of the new Welland Canal in 1932, but after that date she sailed regularly from Toronto and Hamilton to the Lakehead with calls, as required, at Thorold, Leamington, Windsor, Point Edward and Sault Ste. Marie enroute. After the Montreal to Lake Ontario section of the Seaway was opened in 1959, RENVOYLE went to Montreal on occasion, but she generally continued on her Upper Lakes run.
RENVOYLE was a fast ship. A former sailor recalled that "in her heyday nothing on the lakes could touch her for speed." When it was warranted, she had been known to complete a trip from the Lakehead to Lake Ontario ports and return in one week. A master of the vessel, on one occasion, received a very critical letter from head office for outdistancing one of the company's passenger liners on the run to Point Edward. It did not happen again!
RENVOYLE was propelled by a triple expansion engine with cylinders measuring 22 1/2", 37", 62" and a 42" stroke. It had been built by North East Marine Co. Ltd. and provided faithful service throughout her forty-two years of operation. Originally she had two single-ended scotch boilers with cylinders 15 feet by 11 feet 6 inches. These were coal-fired. According to the "Record" of the American Bureau of Shipping, new boilers were installed at Port Arthur during the winter of 1955-56, these being a pair of Foster-Wheeler water tube boilers which had been built for one of the two new passenger vessels planned by C.S.L. The tragic NORONIC fire had ended these plans. In direct contradiction to this information, Canada Steamship Lines state that the ship was reboilered in 1953 with two secondhand Yarrow water tube boilers.
Another former sailor reported that RENVOYLE had a bad habit of "bouncing" along on the open lake when speeds were below 12 m.p.h. Apparently this tendency was reduced when the new boilers were installed. The improved performance was expensive, however, as she burned up to 45 tons of coal per day. Perhaps, on the other hand, her "bouncing" was only caused by the ripening and loosening up of the ship as she grew older.
As with many other ships, RENVOYLE was known to be a bit cantankerous at times. It was especially evident when she was turning to port, and was perhaps most noticeable at Point Edward where a strong back current in the St. Clair River created difficulties when approaching or clearing her dock. She had two accidents in that area. On one occasion, in the early fifties, she severely damaged the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway dock. In a 1967 accident to be described later, she sank the Tomlinson self-unloader SYLVANIA.
During her career, she came to the aid of at least two vessels in distress and brought them to safety. In 1936, the C.S.L. upper laker EMPEROR lost her rudder in Lake Superior and was wallowing in heavy seas. One of her crewmen had already been swept overboard by the time RENVOYLE arrived on the scene. Her crew was able to get a line aboard the disabled steamer and tow her to Fort William. It will be recalled that EMPEROR stranded on Canoe Rocks, Isle Royale, on June 4, 1947, becoming a total loss. Twelve lives were lost that day.
Later, in November 1950, RENVOYLE came to the rescue of the WEYBURN in Lake Ontario. The canaller's cargo of package freight and steel had shifted to port and WEYBURN almost capsized. Again RENVOYLE got a line aboard and brought the vessel safely to Toronto.
On numerous occasions, RENVOYLE served in the grain trade. Her hatches and holds better suited her to this service than the newer package freighters. She usually wintered at Toronto with storage for Canada Malting. She was the only ship that we can recall whose crew placed a flat plate across the top of the funnel each winter as protection against the elements.
By the mid-sixties, the ship was being relegated to reserve duty. The features that once led to prominence were now out of date. Her speed was surpassed by the "Fort" class vessels and even the older package freighters MARTIAN and COLLINGWOOD exceeded RENVOYLE's 4,650 deadweight and 176,000 bushel capacity.
She spent her last winter in Toronto during l965-66. While she was unloading her storage cargo, she was used for the filming of an episode of "Seaway", a serial that appeared on the C.B.C. television network.
In 1966, RENVOYLE laid up at Kingston along with COLLINGWOOD. It appeared that both had reached the end of the line as they were moored west of the Kingston Elevator where so many old C.S.L. vessels had spent their last days. Some navigational equipment was removed from the steamers and few expected that either would run again.
Business conditions, however, were considerably improved in 1967 and both veterans were refitted and returned to service. RENVOYLE was not to operate for long, On June 1st, RENVOYLE was clearing the dock in the quarter mile wide narrows of the St. Clair River at Point Edward. While turning to head downstream, she veered over to the westerly side of the river and struck SYLVANIA which was unloading stone at the dock of the Peerless Cement Company at Port Huron. SYLVANIA sank in about fifteen minutes and rested on the bottom with a severe starboard list, causing vessel traffic in the river to be suspended until it could be made certain that the sunken ship would not slip over into the navigational channel. RENVOYLE was moored 400 yards downstream on the American side and then returned to her dock where she was unloaded.
SYLVANIA was later raised and the gash along her hull was repaired, permitting her to return to service. She continues in operation today in the colours of the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton & Company. Although RENVOYLE only sustained a rather large dent in her bow, the accident ended her career. She proceeded immediately to Kingston and laid up west of the elevator alongside WESTMOUNT, R.O.PETMAN and MIDLAND PRINCE.
During the legal battle that followed the accident, C.S.L. filed a Limitation of Liability Proceeding with the district court in Cleveland. This forced all of the claimants, including the Tomlinson Fleet Corp. and the cargo interests, to file their respective claims for damages in one action. Under this proceeding, C.S.L. had the right either to put up a bond or file an interim stipulation with respect to the value of the vessel with a further request that the court appoint a trustee and the vessel be sold. RENVOYLE was then towed to Fairport, Ohio, within the court's jurisdiction, and an auction was held. Acme Scrap & Metal Company was the high bidder and the vessel was sold for $21,000. The limitation fund, therefore, consisted of this amount.
Tomlinson naturally was not satisfied, in view of the extensive damage suffered by SYLVANIA, and tried to establish that RENVOYLE had been operating with a defective rudder. The case went to court during the winter of 1970-71. After the trial was concluded, the judge called the attorneys to his chambers and urged that the matter be settled. A settlement was worked out and the case has now been closed.
In the interim, RENVOYLE was towed to the Acme Scrap yard in Ashtabula, Ohio, where, during the summer of 1968, most of her hull was cut up. Part, however, was retained to be sold to Empire Marine Company of Albion, Pennsylvania. It in reported that they planned to have her converted to a salvage and diving barge. As of January 1972, this had not been done and Acme reports that the remains of her hull still lie at Ashtabula.
RENVOYLE was loved by her crewmen as well as the ship watchers. She was well maintained and, although living conditions were crowded by today's standards, they were as good if not better than other ships of her period. Former crewmen recall that "she was one of the finest little ships ever to ply the lakes" and "a real little lady in a sea."
The vessels of today are built for economy and few retain the trim lines and graceful appearance that made RENVOYLE such a beautiful ship. Perhaps FORT HENRY comes as close as any to duplicating these features, but she is not RENVOYLE. A good ship is gone, but not forgotten.
Society Yacht To Be Rebuilt
The semi-official yacht of the Toronto Marine Historical Society, otherwise known as the Superferry of the St. Mary's River, is to be rebuilt this autumn. It was announced in mid-August by the Wellington Transportation Company that plans had been completed for repowering the carferry SUGAR ISLANDER and adapting her for service in ice.
The T.M.H.S. yacht in action. SUGAR ISLANDER is seen on a typical crossing of the St. Mary's, August 8, 1971. Photo by the Editor.SUGAR ISLANDER provides a year-round ferry service for automobiles and passengers across Little Rapids Cut between Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sugar Island. Much to the chagrin of many of the "concerned citizens" who are year-round residents of the large island, the ferry has found operation in recent winters most difficult due to the choking of the narrow channel by heavy ice which has been stirred up by late-operating ore carriers. In previous years, an ice bridge had formed across the river near the top of the Cut and this, coupled with the strong current, kept the ferry crossing relatively clear of ice. Since winter operation of steamers appears to be the coming thing, it was obvious that some steps would have to be taken in order that the ferry might bo able to maintain some sort of reasonable operating schedule in spite of the ice.
The ferry was previously lengthened in 1970 and now, in mid-September, she will be taken in hand once more by the Soo Drydock Co. which has a small floating drydock at the Soo. Her two 100 h.p. engines will bo removed and replaced by twin 300 h. p. Caterpillar diesels. This will require the fitting of now shafts and propellers. The bow and stern of the double-ended ferry will then be rebuilt in such a way that the ship will bo able to slide up on the ice and crack it instead of trying to push her way through it as she does currently. This operation will actually increase the length of the ferry by approximately six feet and a by-product of the reconstruction will be that she will be able to carry three more cars. Portions of the hull of SUGAR ISLANDER will also be plated over with heavy steel so that sections of the plating will be actually doubled to help avoid damage in heavy ice conditions.
The reconstruction is being considered as a "demonstration" connected with attempts to achieve a longer lake shipping season and accordingly will be financed by U. S. federal funds.
The Wellington Transportation Company is owned by Captains James and John Wellington of the Michigan Soo, and the firm is a member of our Society.
SUGAR ISLANDER has a reputation for meeting passing vessels on the sunny side, thanks to the kindness of its usual operators (Jim Wellington and Bob Reynolds), and is thus frequented by marine photographers during the summer season. We extend our best wishes to the Wellingtons for the success of their project.