Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sails on the Waterfront

Two sailing ships tied up at the Tall Ship Quay today. An off year for the Tall Ships events, it is a pleasure to see a few of these ships come into Halifax independently.

Yesterday's arrival was Lord Nelson - predictably a British  sail training ship. However not just any sail training vessel. It belongs to the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a non -profit that provides sail experience for persons of all abilities including those confined to wheelchairs, with limited vision or hearing.

Purpose built in 1986, the vessel was restored in 2008-2009. The three masted barque is completing a two year round the world voyage, and will be conducting trips from Halifax for the next few weeks.

Today saw Sedna IV a Canadian ship with a long history and some interesting achievements.

It was purpose built too, but for an entirely different purpose, hinted at by her stern. Built in 1957 in Germany as a trawler, it was not until 1991 that it became a sailing vessel. Since coming to Canada in 2001 it has been a floating film editing studio and research vessel. In 2002 it completed an east to west Northwest Passage and started a round-the-world trip in 2011. In 2012 it was in Halifax to start the Asia and Africa leg, and in 2013 was in Amazonia, the Mediterranean and the Arctic.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Brand new for Nordana

Nordana (NORwegian DANish) Lines brought a brand new ship into Halifax today - the first in a series of new ships to replace iconic oldies that broke new ground when they were built.
Back in 1979 when Skodsborg and her sisters  Skanderborg, Shackenborg and Stjerneborg were built, they among the very first combi-carriers: RoRo, container and heavy lift. They proved so incredibly versatile on the North America and Caribbean service of Nordana Lines, that they were thought to be worth lengthening in 2002 - very late in life - and reconditioned. In fact on completion the ship was reclassified as if new in 1984. Another rebuild in 2004 brought the ship up to as if new in 1990 status.

In 1986 Skodsborg had not yet been rebuilt, and only carried one heavy lift derrick.

Built as Dana Africa by Nippon Kokan KK in Shimizu, Japan, the ship only started calling in Halifax after renaming in 1984. Owners Dannebrog Rederi AS had formed Nordana Lines, with Norwegian shipowners Fearnley+Eger, trading to the Med and Caribbean. Fearnley's backed out when they quit shipowning, but the line kept its name. As trade expanded to include the North American east coast, they became rare callers in Halifax, preferring Saint John, NB.
Measuring 12,076 grt as built, 14,805 as rebuilt, the ship was fitted with one 36 tonne crane and two 120 tonne derricks, and could carry 654 TEUs (as rebuilt) and substantial RoRo cargo.In 2012 it was sold to Italian owners, but chartered back by Nordana.

Now after all these years Nordana is upgrading its fleet with new generation ships. The first of the projected new ships, Wedellsborg, arrived today at pier 41. It measures 23,030 grt and was delivered in June by Cantiere Navale Visentini in Port Viro (near Venice) Italy. It carries two 40 tonne cranes -seemingly having forsaken the ultra-competitive heavy-lift market in favour of containers, RoRo and oversize/project type cargoes, including yachts. 

 Wedellsborg sails for Algeria after calls in Mexico and the US east coast.


Princess of Acadia - deadlines continue to pass

The elegant old lady of the Bay of Fundy, Princess of Acadia, has apparently been granted a stay of execution. As various parties hastened to Saint John last week to hear an announcement by the Minister of Transport, they were anticipating news of the ship's replacement. Instead they could conclude that she will probably still be in service two years from now (which gives the government time to call another election and re-promise for the umpteenth time that a replacement is just over the horizon.)

Princess of Acadia puts some reverse on her props as she glides into Digby this afternoon in a postcard perfect arrival.

Built in 1971 for CP Ships the 10,108.58 gross ton ferry, at 150m long and with a passenger capacity of 650 is certainly a big ship, but for her sometimes bumpy 92 mile run between Digby, NS and Saint John, NB, she has proven to be the right size, though nowadays never loaded to capacity. Her four GM locomotive type diesels are inefficient by current standards (and polluting too), and the ship is certainly tired despite numerous refits and redecorating.

In 1974 the Minister of Transport took over ownership of the ferry and in 1976 management was transferred from CP to CN Marine (later to become Marine Atlantic). Bay Ferries became managers in 1997.  

The government previously announced  that they wanted to "identify" a replacement by January 3, 2014, select one by May 31, 2014 for delivery July 31, 2014 to undergo modifications by December 31, 2014 and to go into service in March 2015. Minister Rait merely announced $58 mn over two years of funding for three ferry services: Digby-Saint John, Caribou-Wood Island, and Souris-Grindstone, with no new ferry in sight or even hinted at.

The "new" ferry for Digby-Saint John was in fact to have been a used ferry, built not before 1995. How a 20 year old ship could even be contemplated for this service is beyond me. Not only that it was to be 85m long versus the 150m of Princess of Acadia. The 399 passengers (they threw 250 overboard in one stroke of the pen) will be sick as dogs on rough days due to pitching, even if the "new" ship is bristling with stabilizers. Maybe they found that their inadequate spec was not going to be met without huge refit costs and terminal upgrades and have gone back to the drawing board. I hope so. After all British Columbia Ferries and Société des Traversiers de Québec are building new ships overseas. They aren't going to fall into the trap that the feds went for of buying bargain basement trains and submarines abroad. Surely they have learned from those fiascos by now. Let's hope that instead of buying time (and trouble) at a low price they will decide to buy new for quality and the long term. 

Perhaps the new ferry is is just over the horizon, but I suspect it is sailing away from us, and it will be several years before the great old Princess is finally tied up for the last time and the Bay Ferries logo is affixed to a new ship.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

From the St.Lawrence back to Newfoundland

A consolidation of ownership* among St.Lawrence River tour boat operators has resulted in three boats going to Newfoundland - one of which is returning to its previous stomping grounds.
Croisières AML, already the largest tour boat operator on the St.Lawrence, took over Croisières 2001 at Tadoussac and Croisières Le Coudrier at Quebec City and Trois-Rivières.
The result was some newer boats for AML and the opportunity to sell or retire some of its other boats. AML now has a fleet of 21 boats, ranging from the larger Cavalier Maxim out of Montreal and Louis-Joliet at Quebec City, but also a small flotilla of whale watching boats in the Tadoussac area.

Among those is now the aluminum catamaran AML Zéphyr, the former Le Coudrier de l'Anse. Built in 1992 by Katamarine International of Paspebiac, QC, it measures 170 grt. Formerly based in Quebec City, it has now moved to Rivière-du-Loup, easily reaching the Tadoussac area for whale watching and nature tours.

 AML Zéphyr at Rivière-du-Loup last weekend.

AML Zéphyr replaces the venerable Cavalier des Mers, which has gone back to Newfoundland.

 Cavalier des Mers arriving at Rivière-du-Loup after a tour in 2004.

Built in 1974 by Camcraft Inc of Crown Point, LA, the 28m long triple screw boat was delivered to Marine Atlantic and named Marine Sprinter. Built along the same lines as Gulf of Mexico crew boats, it proved to be a speedy (24 knot) vessel, but as a replacement for traditional Newfoundland coastal boats on the south coast, it was much criticized. It was sold to Quebec in 1984 and modified for whale watching and nature trips. A bow pulpit was added and eventually an ungainly covered sun deck.

Prior to AML ownership, Navimex Inc owned the Cavalier des Mers, and operated it out of the same location, adjacent to the ferry pier at Rivière-du-Loup. As you will see from the Zéphyr photo above, a wheelchair accessible pedestrian passenger station has been added for use by the ferry Trans-St-Laurent, now in its 51st year of operation. 

Based in Tadoussac, then in Rivière-du-Loup, Cavlier des Mers added St-Siméon to its itinerary for a time, but that was later dropped. It is understood that in its new role, it will be operating as a crew boat in Newfoundland for transporting workers to the Hebron Gravity Base Structure project, at Bull Arm.

Also going to Newfoundland as part of the same deal, is AML's Cavalier Royal. Built as Bob Cat in 1963 by Breaux's Bay Craft of Loreauville, LA, it is a 279 grt, 28 kn aluminum crew boat type hull, but with more advanced tourist accommodation and the mandatory bow pulpit. It came to the St.Lawrence in 1990, and has been based in Tadoussac.

 Cavalier Royal off Pointe-au-Pic, QC in 2003.

A third boat included in the deal is Katmar built in 1994 by Les Bateaux Denis Servant Inc of Tourelle, QC. It was also based in Tadoussac.

All three boats are now owned by the anonymous 71275 Newfoundland + Labrador Inc, and so far have not been renamed. (71275 shares its address with McKeil Marine.)

Whale watching is big business at Tadoussac, with a variety of craft, including inflatables, rigid inflatables and bigger tour boats. The Tadoussac wharf also accommodates the Canadian Coast Guard's rescue boat. From the left: Famille Dufour (Dufour), AML Suroît, Grand Fleuve (AML) and CCGS Cap Percé.

(* In an unrelated move, Captain Luc Harvey retired, along with his tour boat Jacques Cartier from Trois-Rivières at the end of last season. It made trips to Tadoussac each summer also.)


Ships at anchor

Halifax harbour anchorages have been busy this year for two reasons- bunkers and moths.

Two ships anchored for bunkers today. First was Lady Clarissa (which I missed)
and Unique Developer.

Unique Developer lies at anchor with the Nova Scotia Community College's waterfront campus as a backdrop.

  The product tanker arrived at Imperial Oil from Houston on Saturday, and after discharging, moved to the anchorage this afternoon. Built in 2010 by Onomichi Dockyard in Japan, the 26,914 grt, 47,366 dwt ship is operated under the Hong Kong (Chinese) flag by Palomar Maritime of Greece.

The last arrival at anchor was Clodomira for Asian Gypsy Moth inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Clodomira in number one anchorage, with the launch Halmar under her stern, waiting to disembark CFIA inspectors as the harbour tour boat Mar crosses her bow.

En route from Havana, Cuba, Clodomira is in ballast. A geared bulk carrier of 22,414 grt, 34,931 dwt, it was built by Shanghai Shipyard, and is also Greek owned, by Nordstrand Maritime + Trading of Athens, and flies the flag of Panama. It is expected to sail later this evening.

Despite its Greek ownership, for official purposes, the ship is one of ten built for Cuba under a complex financing deal. Since some countries (notably the US) have trading restrictions with Cuba, it may be convenient to have the ships' beneficial owners somewhat shrouded.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Algoma Dartmouth - off to New York (again)

No sooner had Algoma Dartmouth finished bunkering Ocean Odyssey (see previous post) than she set sail for New York. RMI Marine's workboat Captain Jim was standing by to relieve the 'Dartmouth of her fenders, and and soon as she was clear, the tanker headed outbound.

By my count this is the fourth trip that the bunkering tanker has made to New York.Until the closing of Imperial Oil's refinery last fall, the ship had never strayed from Halifax harbour, except for refit. Now the nearest source of ship's fuel seems to be New York


Sunday roundup

Perhaps unusual for a Sunday, there was a fair amount of traffic in the harbour today. Aside from the asphalt sailings this morning (see previous post) there were the following:

 A well worn Atlantic Conveyor made a very brief call at Fairview Cove. On its eastbound leg it was alongside for little more than three hours.
 The seismic ship Ocean Odyssey arrived early this afternoon. Soon after tying up at pier 30, the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth was alongside for refueling.

There was also a brief visit from the cruise ship Pearl Mist. It arrived this morning and sailed early this afternoon, on a sunny and hot day.

  Like an old time coastal schooner, it slings a skiff off its stern. Unlike those boats, this one, named Launch 7, has a landing craft type bow door.

 Arriving for the G6 Alliance, NYK Meteor made its way to Fairview Cove with the assistance of tugs Atlantic Spruce on the bow and Atlantic Oak on the stern. Built in 2007 by Hyundai Heavy Industries of Ulsan, the 55,534 grt ship has a capacity of 4922 TEU.  The port of Halifax seems to have been added to its usual Asia / US East coast route of NYK ships.

Other comings and goings included the departure of suppliers Scotian Sea (for Shell seismic ships) and Atlantic Condor (for Deep Panuke) and the wood chip carrier Taiho Maru dropping off its pilot on return from Sheet Harbour. The tug Atlantic Willow had gone to Sheet Harbour yesterday to berth the ship and unberth it today. It also returned to port this afternoon.