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BREE'S BLOG: In The Wake of the Fitzgerald

"We sure as hell have got no business out here"

The pilot Ced Woodward had warned the Avafors' captain not to leave the shelter of the Soo and enter the big lake, but now it was too late. The big steel ship began  Read More 

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An ocean going boat decides to brave Superior

Capt. Cedric Woodward, the pilot for the oceangoing Swedish saltie, Avafors, was growing concerned. The Avafors was just entering Superior from the locks at the "Soo" at the easternmost part of the big lake. Capt. Woodward advised the Swedish captain beside him on the bridge: "We sure as hell have got no business out here." But a veteran skipper who had braved  Read More 
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Ever northward the Big Fitz --- and the storm grows worse

In the wheelhouse, sitting 40-some feet above the water, Capt. McSorley felt secure as he headed his 729-foot oreboat northward. It was warm here, with only occasional bits of Superior spray on the forward windows, and the boat -- despite its "wiggling thing" that they had been living with for years -- was humming  Read More 
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Storm over Superior

I felt a cold breeze on my right cheek. As I turned my face to determine its direction, the wind seemed to grow into intensity. "Damn," I swore. Out of the mist a howling gale sprang up and aboard Persistence, I was caught again, this time close to a lee shore. The savage winds  Read More 
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Superior's chill waters

The harbor fog misted about as I entered Persistence's cockpit. It was cold and dark where I lay berthed in Two Harbors, but I still remember one story of the diver Bill Burke. I had asked, "Isn't there a ship lying out near where I'm berthed?" Bill nodded and said told me it was  Read More 
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There are bodies down there

Night came. Down on the waterfront, where I was tied up with my boat Persistence, lights on the ore docks blurred in fog. It was chill and eerie as I made my way up the hill away from the misty dock. "Glad to see you tonight," the security guard Bill Burke said. "I heard  Read More 
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In an ice storm, a tugboat to the rescue!

The high winds and waves continued outside the harbor. As I hunkered down in my own 20-foot sloop, Persistence, waiting out the storm. I was haunted by memories of the steam-powered Edna G. out there. A fisherman had gone out one January morning and had not returned by evening. Darkness had fallen. His family  Read More 
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The Fitz went this way as storm grew

It was foggy and stormy out on the Big Lake as I sat in the tiny cockpit of Persistence. We were securely tied up to a barge in Two Harbors, Minnesota, near the old steam tugboat, the Edna G. Out there, just past the breakwaters not far away, Superior was kicking up big waves  Read More 
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The old steam-powered tugboat

I started to introduce myself to Capt. Adolph Ojard, the retired captain of the steam-powered tugboat built in 1896, but he said, "I saw you coming in. Nice looking boat." That was enough for introductions. He saw my boat, he knew me. We settled down to talk in the Edna G.'s wheelhouse and he  Read More 
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Safe at last -- or not?

Now under power of my 5 horsepower outboard engine, I circled the pier which was festooned with colored flags. Banners proclaimed that the small Minnesota town was celebrating its hundredth anniversary. I was now in Two Harbors and tall ore loading docks loomed dark and rusty red. At least I was off the storm-tossed lake.  Read More 
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