Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sharon paddles along the break wall, past a light marking the entrance to the Calumet channel.
     There's plenty of traffic on the Chicago coast during the summer months. We share the water with tour boats, yachts, motor boats, sail boats, fishing boats, coast guard vessels, jets skis and more. On a summer weekend, it can get pretty busy--and sometimes pretty scary.
     But there's one type of boat we're always happy to see: Great Lakes freighters. These monumental vessels remind us that Chicago owes its existence to the convenience of sending cargo by sea, and that its maritime role extends to this day.
     Today we paddled down toward the heavy industrial area on Chicago's far south side. While eating lunch at Calumet Park, we saw the Philip R. Clarke as she approached the Calumet River. We knew she was coming long before we saw her because her captain announced her arrival an hour in advance on channel 16, which we monitor any time we are near or crossing shipping channels. So we paddled out to a nearby buoy to watch her turn once to get into the channel, then a second time so she could back into the river.

The Philip R. Clarke and the Avocet LV.

We stopped to take pictures, of course.

Alec brings out the serious camera.

The 767-foot freighter, capable of hauling more than 25,000 tons of cargo.
    These Great Lakes freighters command respect. They make all the little motor boats look ridiculous. They're predictable, they follow the nautical rules of the road, and they're just plain amazing. We think our kayaks, given a choice, would come back in another life as Great Lakes frieghters.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed seeing your photos - and yes, those freighters are fun to see. Far better than jet skis!

Kayaks said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I love kayaking on the Great Lakes.