Wilfred Sykes - Multiple Warning Blasts and Salutes for a Foggy Arrival

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Here is the Wilfred Sykes arriving in Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior on the evening of May 24, 2021. She was in town to drop off a load of limestone at the Graymont dock in Superior, Wisconsin and was then scheduled to load iron ore at the Canadian National dock in West Duluth. If you saw my video of the Sykes visiting Duluth in April of this year, I noted just how rare it was to see the Sykes come through the Duluth piers. She hadn't done so since December 1997. Luckily, this is now the second time we've seen her in the Duluth piers in 2021. While the Sykes is still largely used for hauling stone between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, I am hopeful that we'll see her continue to make the occasional visit to Lake Superior (and the Twin Ports), as she is arguable one of the most beautiful ships on the lakes!

May 24 was a very foggy day in the Twin Ports and I feared we might not see much of the Sykes at all. But fortunately, the dense fog lifted ever-so-slightly, so we got a good view of her moving through the canal. As she did so, we were treated to a master salute (three long and two short blasts) and two captain's salutes (one long and two short blasts). A number of single blasts were also heard from the Sykes, which is standard in foggy conditions, warning other vessels in the area of her presence. After watching the Sykes enter through the shipping canal, I caught up with her again at Connor's Point in Superior, where I could just barely make out her shape as she glided through the harbor like a ghost ship. I then stopped at the Graymont dock to watch her approach and dock. (Her departure the following day will be covered in an upcoming video.)

The 678-foot Wilfred Sykes was built in 1949 by the American Shipbuilding Company of Lorain, Ohio. She was the first American lake carrier built after World War II and was in many ways she signaled a new age in Great Lakes shipping. Her two steam turbine engines produce a combined 7,700 horsepower, burning "bunker C" heavy fuel oil instead of coal, making her the first laker to do so. (Several lakers would later be retrofitted to burn fuel oil, but the Sykes was the first laker designed to do so from her conception.) She has 18 hatch covers that access six cargo holds capable of holding 21,500 tons of cargo. The Sykes was converted to a self-unloader in 1975 and given a 250-foot self-unloading boom. She is one of five steam-powered lake carriers still in service, with the others being the Alpena, Arthur M. Anderson, Cason J. Callaway, and Philip R. Clarke. All five have been documented on this channel, so check through my videos to see them in action!
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