Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hantsport Tug For Sale [for a while]

1. Spanish Mist off the dock at high water, and outbound. September 17, 2003.

2. Between jobs, the tug dries out at her berth. Note she has no rolling chocks, which would be damaged by twice daily groundings. September 10, 1997.

The tug Spanish Mist is for sale. With the downturn in the US construction industry, gypsum shipments from Hantsport, NS have virtually ceased. What little traffic there is can be handled easily by Atlantic Towing Ltd, with tugs from its Saint John, NB base. (A recent call by Gypsum Centennial was handled by Atlantic Hemlock.)

Spanish Mist was built in 1981 by S.L. Ardeag of Bilbao, Spain as Ebro, but was renamed Reus on completion. In 1994 it was renamed Ole Rabudal, but was soon sold to Fundy Gypsum, the operating entity at Hantsport, as replacement for their venerable Otis Wack.

Fitted with a 2610 bhp V-18 B&W main engine, driving a single controllable pitch screw in a steering nozzle, the tug was a major boost from the Wack's 1200 bhp.

In May 1995, the newly renamed Spanish Mist arrived in Hantsport for the first time after a refit in Meteghan, NS.

Hantsport is an unusual assignment for a tug. The gypsum berth and the pier where the tug ties up are at the head of the Minas Basin, on the Avon River, where tides exceed 45 feet, and dry out at low tide. The tug must get underway to meet a ship on the tide prior to the ship's arrival. It meets the ship well out in Minas Basin and when the next tide begins to flood in, it accompanies the ship to the pier and holds it alongside. The tug master usually boards the ship to act as berthing master and pilot.

The ship can only load in the last of the flood tide and must leave the berth at high tide or it will not reach deep water in time. This leaves only a two to three hour loading window. (The loaders can dump 10,000 tonnes per hour into the ships!). The ships load to about 31.5 foot draft and sail on the high tide whether fully loaded or not. The tug therefore must be powerful enough to tow the ship out if it has any engine problems.

The tug then works the ship off the berth and usually accompanies it out in to the Basin. It must await the next tide to return to its berth, and tie up before it is stranded. It has therefore been away form its berth for three tides. The port is usually closed for some time each winter due to ice.

Spanish Mist has been well maintained by USG Canadian Mining Ltd, and now CGC Inc (the successive names of the gypsum operations, all of which are subsidiaries of United States Gyspum.) In 2001 she went into a major refit at Meteghan and emerged with a new 8 cylinder Cat rated at 2839 bhp.

The tug has now been removed from service and offered for sale. A standby master and engineer are on board, but as described above, when tug services are needed, they are provided by Atlantic Towing Ltd.

For some great photos of gypsum operations (and some wonderful farm tractors!) see:

Update: As you will see frm the comment below, the tug was no longer for sale as of November 1. What changed?


  1. The Tug Spanish Mist is NOT for sale as of November 1st 2010

  2. This Tug is no longer on the market