How To Stop A 630' Great Lakes Freighter On A Dime

Picture of How To Stop A 630' Great Lakes Freighter On A Dime
At glance it may not look as exciting as the twisting river of the Cuyahoga but, today we are going to land the guys on the end of the dock at Marblehead Ohio.
I can't emphasize enough how difficult this can be. Today is an extremely rare calm day. More often than not, the wind and sea make this a damaging approach.
Keep in mind, you have only a single bow thruster and a rudder that only goes 45 degrees in either direction.
This is your mission, good luck!
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Step 1: Chart Time!

Picture of Chart Time!
We are going to approach the dock as the same angle of the dividers. The tip of the dividers is where the target is.

Step 2: Small Boat Saturday, Yuck!

Picture of Small Boat Saturday, Yuck!

As always, check for traffic and hazards. Today is a Saturday so everybody and there mother is out fishing. (On a side note, the best fishing is actually done ONLY in shipping channels and directly in front of moving freighters! I bet you didn't know that!)

Fishing tricks to be aware of: 1.) the guy who turns his back to you and pretends he can't see you, 2.) the guy who pretends he doesn't have a 2 way radio and wont answer you (this is also the guy who calls for a radio check every 10 minutes anywhere else) 3.) The sail boater who drives everywhere with his engine BUT, keeps his sail up, on purpose, thus giving him the right of way. 4.) the guy who really does have his back turned to you, sees you at the last minute and gives himself a heart attack trying to pull start his engine.

Slow down, be prepared. Every dot on that radar is a boat. You are the fuzziest of the dots with the heading line coming out, pointing at the tip of the dock.

cammers9 months ago

Thanks for sharing. I've been really enjoying your series.

Robibame9 months ago

this and the stuck in the ice story are both a fun read. thanks again for sharing your stories

kbc29 months ago
i dig your ibles...... the closest i have come to what you do daily is handling the wheel of a 600' helo carrier while in the U.S. Navy, pulling into San Diego. But once we got close to the dock the tugs took over. Fair seas and safe sailing mate!
fzumrk9 months ago

It is cool to see how things like this are done, even if very few of us would every have the opportunity to try it.

Running Wolf9 months ago

I've lived by the Jersey Shore and on the Great Lakes (Cleveland/Erie Area). The Great Lakes have storms come out of no where, they might not last days like a Nor'Easter but for the hour or so they last they spawn some nastier weather.

My hat goes off to the folks sailing for a living on the Lakes.

mlevesque9 months ago

Nice write up, and I would like read one on your winter docking.

I actually live closer to Marblehead than Cleveland, but have never taken this sight in. I guess I have something to add to my summer activities! What is the logic behind building the dock like that? This is a fabulous series - thank you again.

amenough (author)  KookyKreations9 months ago

Yes, being from Toledo, my dad used to bring me there all the time as a little boy to climb on the rocks. It's wonderful in the summer. To answer your question, there's sort of two parts to it. First and foremost, it's the cheapest way to build. It's also very simple to make a circle out of the pilings, fill it with cement and be done with it. The second half is, it doesn't stop us from going there. The mentality becomes one of, "You did it yesterday, so....". The poor Great Lakes take a massive beating when it comes to infrastructure. Some of these docks haven't changed in 60 years, the docks are dilapidated and sinking in, there are jagged rocks, poison ivy, mosquitos, skunks, etc. The deck hands have to drag the 1" cables for 200' sometimes to find a mooring cleat. Thanks for the gracious comment.

amenough (author) 9 months ago

You guys would be surprised, you could do it. It is very scary at first, especially that first day you go on your own. But, it becomes easier over time, you learn what to anticipate and you know what's going to happen next in most cases. You have to learn to drive aggressively and with a lot of intent. Dealing with crabby crew members and the office is far more difficult than the actual driving part.

Granzeier9 months ago

This "Great Lakes Freighter" series is way-cool. I will never, ever pilot (or captain) a freighter, but it is really fun seeing a glimpse of what it is like running one of these behemoths. (Plus, what happens if "never say never" comes about - I'll just run to these 'ibles and have a tiny start.) ;-)

Thanks for the insights.

Triclaw9 months ago

just need a freighter now and ill be all set or maybe I can ride with you