Introduction: Getting a 630' Great Lakes Freighter Into the Old River Bed, Cleveland,Ohio

Picture of Getting a 630' Great Lakes Freighter Into the Old River Bed, Cleveland,Ohio

So the number one rule in the Cuyahoga river is to check for traffic. Luckily for us, the Alpena already left and is out of our way. So long suckers!

Step 1: Don't Forget to Slow Down!

Picture of Don't Forget to Slow Down!

Because it's happened before, I've seen it! This also a good time to call NS1 railroad bridge and give them a heads up that we will be there in about an hour. You don't want to piss off the railroad or you'll never get a lift! And who wants to tread water all day in the Cuyahoga? Not me!

Step 2: How Many Miles Off the Break Wall?

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I say 3 miles but I'm kind of a chicken. Don't forget we are fully loaded, 25 foot draft and carrying 19,438 net tons of lime stone. Look mom, no brakes!!!!

Step 3: Break Wall!

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What a beautiful line up on a windless day. What could possibly go wrong? Don't answer that!

Step 4: Chart Time!

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If look at my pencil, you'll see the inner pier and the outer harbor. That's pretty Neato!

Step 5: Take a Knee Everybody.

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If we take a left, we go up the main river, no thanks! We checked the local notice to mariners, and they're fixing all the bridges up there. We better take a right and go up the old river bed, and why not? That's where the dock is! From here on out the old river bed is referred to as the ORB. There might be a test later!

Step 6: Bingo!

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There's the dock! How hard could this be?

Step 7: Ya! We Got a Lift!

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The hardest part is now over and they only had to run one West bound. I'll take that any day!

Step 8: Will She Fit?

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It sure doesn't look good. But it fits! I've been coming through here for 12 years! I say, less than 1 mph, no problems.

Step 9: I Can Breathe Now.

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There's the day light we've been waiting for. You don't want to hit that place, they bill you for the damage! Can you believe it?

Step 10: Are You Sure She'll Fit?

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I'm positive. Have faith, we have the mate up forward calling distances over the bow. "50 foot closing, 40 foot closing, 30 foot still closing" he sounds like a broken record!

Step 11: Has Anybody Looked Over the Stern?

Picture of Has Anybody Looked Over the Stern?

Ya we better make sure the port quarter is coming through. Oh! It's getting narrow back there! I can't help but feel, though, our stern is going to slip into the jack knife just in time!

Step 12: Calling Willow Street Bridge on Channel 16, Are You There?

Picture of Calling Willow Street Bridge on Channel 16, Are You There?

"I see you, keep it coming."
That's a load off my mind. We only have about 100 feet over the bow and we 'll be painting that bridge ourselves!

Step 13: Day Light!

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Well ok then. That wasn't so bad. Oh ! I've been looking so hard at the bow, I almost forgot about the stern again!

Step 14: Recognize This Building?

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Tons of room ! I'm going back to bed! That's the "Christies" strip club. God rest her soul , that's where the dancer fell over the second floor hand rail and passed away a few days later. A terrible accident.

Step 15: One More Corner to Go.

Picture of One More Corner to Go.

Who designed this whack-a-do river and why are we taking a 630' ship up it ? Oh ya, that's right, my kids go to private school. That's why I go up it.

Step 16: Send Them Over!

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Launch your deck hands over on the landing chair. Let's get this show going! I have to finish customs !

Step 17: My Precious.

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What does 19,000 net tons of stone look like?

Step 18: Start Me Up I'll Never Stop!

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We 're tied up , the boom is out, we're unloading! Awesome! Give the person next to you a high five! We should have this all out in about 5 hours and then....hey wait a minute, how in the hell are we going to get out of here?

1.) how far off the break wall do we pull the throttle back?
2.) what is the name of the first bridge and when do we call them?
3.) what is the ORB?


wsrmeshif (author)2014-10-18

1. 3 miles off the breakwall
2. NS1 gets called as you're lining up for the channel
3. ORB is Old river Bed
BONUS: Google mapped the area to get a better feel for it and found the Calumet unloading at Ontario Stone Dock 1

TheEmpireBuilder (author)2014-09-23

1) At the West Pierhead Light (to full astern)

2a) The Iron Curtain

2b) When we leave Duluth

3) The Back Channel or....The shape of your wake when the Iron Curtain remains closed.

baudeagle (author)2014-07-15

This is a cool post, thanks for sharing. I came across this blog post a while back, it lists a bunch of AIS/marine vessel tracking websites. I am not sure if you can track ships in real time or not but it is pretty awesome.

jmans1 (author)2014-06-17

I guess I just like watching ship come and go,Since iI was a kid my g father work on the ships and tugs for reiss. If your ship ever comes to port in GB I'll give you Horn Salute.

amenough (author)2014-06-09

Good guess, very close, Calumet. (Formerly David Z. Norton)

oppie (author)2014-06-12

I'm sending this to a buddy that used to Master freighters on the lakes.

mlevesque (author)2014-06-11

Talk about a tight fit... Very interesting.

riff raff (author)2014-06-10

Very cool.

snoopindaweb (author)2014-06-08

Very interesting I still prefer Trucking tho, especially now. Thank You. ~ : - }

amenough (author)snoopindaweb2014-06-09

Even though I've never done it, I prefer trucking too. I would love to have a CDL. Be your own boss, see the country, sounds like a good deal.

snoopindaweb (author)amenough2014-06-10

Hello amenough, Yes those parts make it all good and operating the vehicles are a gas. Easier than a SUV etc, once You get used to them, in about a month or two. But person compares it to being on a vacation and remembering driving 500 miles in a day. But doing it day after day month after month and year after year,- etc. The politics are incredible, from "attitude checks" by scale men, Highway Patrol, Police, etc, to being "Force Dispatched' - driving a couple days straight and hoping Your log books- (sometimes using 2 or three to cover Your hours in service) - will pass muster to keep the dispatcher's delivery promises. - I hear that all that goes on computer now, measuring Your progress from point to point. Pretty hard to cheat that. - Basically just driving safely keeps any attention off a person. I have to admit I think Merle Haggard has it right all in all ~ "Men become addicted to the Grind" ~. Good luck and use Your best judgement if You jump in with both feet. ~ : - }

amenough (author)2014-06-06

I'm glad you all like it. I really didn't think more than a dozen people would notice so I'm kind of shocked. What other freighter junk would you like to see?

tsutton6 (author)amenough2014-06-09

Engine room, please.

lastot069 (author)amenough2014-06-08

pilot controls and what they do would be cool

amenough (author)lastot0692014-06-08

You got it! Although you may be surprised by how antiquated it is. This boat was built in 1973 and has only now just started to receive some updates.

castleroc (author)2014-06-09

A great read that will be shared. Thank you for this 'ible. Real life at it's best.

castleroc (author)2014-06-09

A great read that will be shared. Thank you for this 'ible. Real life at it's best.

castleroc (author)2014-06-09

A great read that will be shared. Thank you for this 'ible. Real life at it's best.

castleroc (author)2014-06-09

A great read that will be shared. Thank you for this 'ible. Real life at it's best.

istoffel (author)2014-06-08

really cool, reminds me of being up on the flight deck of my aircraft carrier as we maneuvered into different ports, or in the Suez Canal, but your job looks a whole lot harder since we always had tugs helping us around.
just curious, the sepia tones to your pics, is it because of lighting at that time of day, or are the windows on your bridge tinted, or something I didn't think of?

amenough (author)istoffel2014-06-09

Suez, that's amazing! I've been through the Panama about a bakers dozen though. The sepia was completely coincidental. I'm not that computer clever and did the whole thing on my I-phone in about 10 minutes. It was pretty dreary out that day.

airds (author)2014-06-09

Here's a bulker going back to sea - down the River Clyde. Time lapse by Gillian Locke - a Clyde pilot

diy_bloke (author)2014-06-08

Great job. I will sure I will come in handy, next time I wanna do this :-)
all jokes aside: good reading

zappenfusen (author)2014-06-08

Worked on river for years. Great Instructable! Sure beats "How to Poop".

KookyKreations (author)2014-06-08

Oh how I love watching the ships come into Cleveland. You guys constantly astound me. Thank you for the write-up! Here is a groundling's eye view!

amenough (author)KookyKreations2014-06-08

The St. Marys Challenger. When he's in town, we have to go around him. He's a white knuckler too. We only have about 10' off of him, it's manageable though. You really have to have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

wrsexton (author)2014-06-08

Incredible! Guess there isn't much time on board to play with arduino's and such. What a sense of accomplishment that must give!!!

amenough (author)wrsexton2014-06-08

Without a doubt, you do have days where you feel like you can do anything, that's about 5% of the time and only happens in the summer months. The rest of the time I spend crunching down on my cyanide tablet.

nwlaurie (author)2014-06-08

I seriously enjoyed that! A refreshing change from all those wheels and resistors!

MrNathann (author)2014-06-08

Very entertaining instructable.

How often do you make a shipment and can I come?

What does the weather have to be like before you decide to wait for colmer weather?

amenough (author)MrNathann2014-06-08

Great question! Very unlike ocean boats (Salty's) all our docks are measured in hours. When on Lake Erie, you might make 3 docks a day, due to close proximity. It's extremely labor intensive and you have to really not like sleeping. If your on Lake Michigan, it relaxes a bit more in that it takes 24 hours to get from the Mackinac bridge to Chicago. As far as weather goes, it really comes down to experience and threshold/ will power. When you start seeing 25 knots of wind, your really starting to press your luck, although I've done it many times, and scared the crap out of myself as a result. This job truly brings you closer to God b/c I have no explanation for all the times I've "gotten away with it". Hero to zero in one bad judgement call. My day is coming, I know it.

rbg009 (author)2014-06-08

Single screw? Or maybe 6?

amenough (author)rbg0092014-06-08

6? I wish. Single screw about a 14' pitch. The mains are 2 Alco's 2500HP/ a piece, single bow thruster, 800HP

jaret (author)2014-06-08

NICE! About 10 years ago when I was 6 we used to go to shooters all the time and I fell in love with that bridge. Nice instructable, really brings back the good times.

P.S. That pic is going as my background!

amenough (author)jaret2014-06-08

Yes, that Shooters is a pretty popular place. I can't even tell you how many wedding photos of which we've been in the background. That place is terrifying in the summer b/c everybody rafts there boats off and we have to call ahead to clear everybody out. We rescued a guy out of the water there one summer, drunk as hell.

DasBigfoot (author)2014-06-08

Very interesting... more, more!

finite (author)2014-06-08

This is pretty awesome, thanks for posting it

Nicapizza (author)2014-06-08

Wow! I also live in cleveland, and I see the steeple of my school from. That picture! This is a great guide, thanks do sharing!

veeguy (author)2014-06-08

I used to love watching the coal and clay boats navigate into the Sheboygan harbor on Lake Michigan. My older sister was particularly attracted to dating the English sailors on the clay boats. My parents would often invite them over for dinner with our family. The coal docks and bulk cargo yards have now been replaced by the Blue Harbor resort hotel. Tourism is great for the local economy but I miss the excitement of the big boats arriving in port.

caitlinsdad (author)2014-06-05

1. Any danger from pirates on the Canadian coast?

2. What is Talk-like-a-pirate Day like on the ship?

3. How fast can your ship do the Kessel Run?

4. How many people stand on the bow and do the Titanic pose?

Nice, interesting overview of operations. How does one qualify to be a captain of such a large ship? Shouldn't tugs pilot the big rig into dock?

amenough (author)caitlinsdad2014-06-06

1.) Canadian pirates is an oxymoron.

2.) Talk like a pirate day is not observed. Probably b/c it doesn't involve overtime.

3.) How many statute miles is that Kessel Run? KR/ 14mph = your answer.

4.) Well, since there's not enough room for all of us on the bow at once, you have to sign up on a sheet in the galley and choose your time. Short answer, 17.

5.) Bonus answer: "Do I ever wish I could breathe underwater? Yes. (That's the movie challenge for you.)

tlenz (author)amenough2014-06-07

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

cadman17_36 (author)2014-06-06

Very cool, I live in Cleveland use to work downtown and watch you guysgo up river all day. always wondered how someone got into that line of work ( to old to start now).

dcowan3 (author)2014-06-06

Thanks for the pics of Cleveland, I really miss home. I always loved watching the boats come in when I was young and was always amazed they made it.

AmateurHour (author)2014-06-05

Very cool! I really hope someone can click the "I Made It" button on this one.

clyman1 (author)2014-06-05

God help us all if I'm ever in charge of a 630 foot anything, much less a vessel without brakes. But if I ever do, I'll come back to this post. I love the style of this one.

chrisjhill (author)2014-06-05

I love this instructable. I would love to see more like it, boats are cool!

insight- (author)2014-06-05

That's awesome. To bad about the stripper. If could have a phone I'd do one about running a passenger train.

nerfrocketeer (author)2014-06-05

Wow, cool! Another fave!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi everybody! I'm a Great Lakes ship Captain, at least that's what my pay stub says?! I just stare out the front window ... More »
More by amenough:How To Get A 630' Freighter Out Of the Thickest Ice In 40 Years.How To Stop A 630' Great Lakes Freighter On A DimeGetting A 630' Great Lakes Freighter Into The Old River Bed, Cleveland,Ohio
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