When we pulled up at Northport Thursday, it was busy! The Eyrarbakki was loading and we were the last vehicle to board. The Arni J. Richter was waiting to pick up the autos, trucks, and trailers that remained on the dock.
But then as I thought about the date, I realized the trips increase this weekend to the Summer Schedule. That's boats running every 30 minutes, some 20+ roundtrips. Two more night trips will be added this Friday, too. I also remembered one crew member we have come to know will not be returning this weekend.
After Memorial Day, young Doug Foss left the Island to follow in his family's footsteps and work on the Lake with the Interlake Steamship Company. He is the fourth-generation of his family to take on this work. Interlake posted this photo of Doug during his first week on the job. Look closely and one might see that Doug continues to wear his ferry crew shirt.
Doug is on the tug Dorothy Ann which manages the Pathfinder barge. Doug's day usually involves "busting or tightening clamps to the hatches on the barge," he says. At the time I heard from him, Doug had been off the boat only to drag cable from one bollard to another at the side when docking.
Hosing down the tunnels after an unload is also part of the job.
One example is the run to Calcite to load 35,000 tons of stone for transport to Cleveland. A long run like this can also include 8 hours of painting the boat while under way.
When it comes to a schedule or an assigned shift for a new crew member, Life does not provide such regularity. When I heard from Doug early on, he reported when he was awakened he hit the ground running and fell asleep when he was done. "Steamboating isn't an exact science," Doug says.
Sometimes the loading at Calcite can take 15 hours. Although the schedule might say a 7 pm arrival in Cleveland, there could be a 4 hour delay as another boat - in one case, the Buffalo - finishes before the Pathfinder could tie up to unload. Yet another day out of Stone Port, they were 15 hours at anchor while another boat finished up.
"It is hard work but a good day's pay."
However, 'hurry up and wait' (this writer's term) can also mean time to catch up on news and happenings with a better internet connection coming from shore. While the Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder does have wifi, it is "very slow" in Doug's words. There may be some lulls along the way but Doug has been able to capture some great photos during those times!
This new adventure gives Doug another unique opportunity as one never knows what boat might be in sight. Being from a family of sailors, it never hurts to keep an eye open for another Foss' boat to photograph. While at anchor off Detour for the Interlake Spring Meeting, Doug took this photo of his uncle David Foss' boat, the Mesabi Miner.
Another good thing is the food. "It is excellent,"says Doug, "Three square meals a day and all out access to cookies and ice cream." I found this from June 2 on Facebook which seems to validate Doug's sentiment. It seems the chief steward on the Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder felt like making doughnuts and then later found out it was National Doughnut Day. Certainly a win-win!
The Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder seems a fine boat to learn sailing and steamboating ways.
Being able to learn from your Uncle Arni Foss is pretty cool as well. The experience was short though as Arni recently moved on to the Hon. James Oberstar as its relief captain.
All these Foss folks reminds me of a photo Jim Rose took over at Northport in the summer of 2013. Appearing first in the Washington Island Observer, it deserves a reprint. At that time, First Mate Arni Foss on the Stewart J. Cort, was passing Ferry Captain Erik Foss (Father of Doug) on the Washington. David Foss, at the time First Assistant Engineer on the Herbert C. Jackson, was passing north of Rock Island.
Keep your eyes open as there may be another Foss Family Reunion on the water this season!
... til next time!