High winds off the our coast for several days resulted in a surprise visit to Halifax for the tug Salvage Monarch
and its tow, the converted tall ship Caledonia
. Neither vessel is a stranger to Halifax - for more on Caledonia
see Shipfax .
The tow is headed from Toronto for Boston, and the Gulf of Maine is notorious for stormy conditions. While tug and tow passed Halifax Sunday May 12 it was decided to duck in for shelter. Tall ships, with their great windage and awkward bowsprits are notorious to tow, and so it was prudent to avoid rough weather.
Unfortunately they are tied up at pier 27, an impossible place to photograph anymore.
While the tall ship Caledonia
is a bit of a classic, built in 1947, the tug itself can lay claim to classic status too. Dating from 1959, it has been rejuvenated a couple of times, most recently by Toronto Dry Dock Ltd, its present owner. It is now fully compliant to operate in US waters.
Original owners, Pyke Salvage and Navigation of Kingston, ON (then part of Fednav) foresaw the need for a capable salvage tug with the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The company's co-operation with McAllister Towing of Montreal eventually led to McAllister taking over ownership of Pyke's assets.
At the time various owners were having tugs built in the UK and P.K.Harris of Appledore, North Devon went on to produce several notable tugs for Canada with the patented Hydroconic hull form. This hard chine design was much more economical to build than fully moulded hulls and has proven to be quite functional - given good rudder design.
I have featured the tug here before, see: http://tugfaxblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2011/11/salvage-monarch-is-refitting.html
McAllister used the tug for salvage work and some long tows, including one from Sorel to Halifax in 1971 with the ferry Napoleon L.
In those days Salvage Monarch
acquired the sobriquet "The Grim Reaper" for the number of old Great Lakes ships it towed to ship breaking yards. This was useful work as the number casualties in the Seaway system diminished over time with improved navaids.
By the time McAllister sold its Montreal towing and salvage operation, Salvage Monarch
had become more of a conventional harbour tug than a salvage vessel, but it still carried a towing winch when most tugs had towing hooks only.
When Groupe Ocean acquired the Montreal tug operations, they made a number of their tugs available for charter work, including bareboat charter. Salvage Monarch
made one of its infrequent returns to salt water in 2000-2001 as a standby and chase boat for cable work.
It was then sold to a fledgling towing company in Goderich, ON, which was followed by several years in layup.
Toronto Dry Dock apparently saw the potential in the tug and have over the past few years given it a lot of TLC and brought it back to a high standard.
This is the tug's first long distance tow under those new owners, and it is an ideal job for it. Great power is not required to tow Caledonia
, and a skilled crew can certainly deal with the normal issues. Although I cannot confirm it, it is likely that there is a riding crew on the Caledonia
too, another reason to be safely tied up in port during windy weather.
Toronto Drydock Ltd have built up their business from modest beginnings, now with a fleet of three tugs - all classics in their own right - owing their longevity to many years in fresh water, but also to "in house" maintenance and upgrades. They are involved in ship repair, marine construction and of course commercial diving and salvage.
For more on Toronto Drydock Ltd, see their web site: https://www.torontodrydock.com/
Weather conditions improved considerably by Thursday May 16 and the tug and tow were able leave port. Hugging the coast they will make a shortest possible dash across the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, aiming for the Maine coast.
Regrettably I still don't have a photo of the tug in its black hull / red superstructure paint scheme and its tiny elevated bird's nest conning station.