Tuesday, October 30, 2018

M/V Yvonne Conway

I got this one a few days ago. The quality of the photo is not that great.

As usual, whenever I feel the need to get a photo of a boat, there's usually a Crounse boat around.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ohio River hydropower, 2017

Belleville has been dethroned and Meldahl rules, but barely.

Downstream view of the hydroelectric plant at the Meldahl Locks and Dam.

The Energy Information Administration recently released final 2017 for power plants nationwide, and there’s a lot of stuff to dig out of there. I started with the question of how the Ohio River hydroelectric power plants did in generating electricity last year, which was the first full year of production for three of them — Willow Island, Meldahl and Cannelton. Smithland’s plant came on line in July.

As you can see from the chart, total power production from the plants on the river’s navigation dams was fairly steady from 2016 to 2017, with some plants producing more and some less.

Net generation (megawatt hours)
Dam20152016Pct. change2017Pct. change from 2016Pct. change from 2015
New Martinsville Hannibal112,859122,9089%195,50159%73%
Willow Island-231,883NA230,462-1%NA
Ohio Falls (McAlpine)273,775316,43716%277,577-12%1%
*Began generating in 2017.
Sources: Energy Information Administration; the Ohio River Blog

In case you’re wondering, the zero production listed for Racine last year is not a typo. It’s real.

Here’s a news release issued by the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 26, 2016.

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. – American Electric Power (AEP) has reported an issue with one of their sheet pile cells located at the Racine Locks and Dam hydropower facility on the Ohio River at mile 237.5.

AEP is developing plans for interim and permanent repairs to ensure the cell's stability, and AEP's contractor is on site to perform repair work. There may be intermittent impacts to navigation in order to undertake these necessary repairs.

Staff from AEP, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have visited the site to evaluate the cell and will continue monitoring until all repairs are accomplished by AEP.

The hydroelectric plant sits on the edge of the river, opposite locks built and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for navigation purposes.

According to EIA data, Racine was taken off line sometime in December 2016.

I emailed AEP to ask about the situation at Racine and when it will be back in production. AEP spokesperson Tammy Ridout emailed back, “We are working with the Army Corps of Engineers on this and there is no estimate at this time of when the plant will be back in operation.”

Back to Belleville … Usually the hydroelectric plant at Belleville is among the top generators on the river, but that was before larger plants were built downriver, where there is more flow and where plants can be built with three turbines instead of two.

As a side note to all this, when I was in Paducah at the end of July to talk with barge companies and others about infrastructure needs, someone — I forget who — began talking about how to get other entities to pay into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. He or someone began talking about a hydroelectric plant planned for another dam — either Newburgh or John T. Myers.

He said the Smithland plant was built too close to the dam. It does not provide enough horizontal clearance on the navigable pass during high water when the locks are shut down. That effectively closes the river there to navigation during floods, he said.

So, the plan now is to dig into the 2017 power plant numbers and see what might be of interest to river fans and/or number nerds.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dog vs. buzzards at Cannelton

There is something about buzzards that makes me want to photograph them. I don't do a lot of wildlife photography, because it's not high on my list of interests. But when I see a vulture or a heron, I want to get a picture if I can.

Buzzards are nature's biohazard removal system. Or, as the title of one book I have at home calls them, buzzards are "nature's ghastly gourmet."

We all know buzzards like to feast on dead animals, but on expansion seals at Ohio River locks and dams? Apparently so.

According to this article in The Waterways Journal, the Corps of Engineers has called in a dog to live at the dam full-time and keep the vultures away.

Who'd a thunk it?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

M/V Cincinnati

Another group of photos from my quick trip to Kenova WV and Catlettsburg KY to get some boat pictures this past Sunday. This is the M/V Cincinnati heading up the Big Sandy River and meeting the MAP Runner on its way out. In the third picture, you can see the MAP Runner hitting the Cincinnati's wake.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

M/V Silver

The other day I was thinking about how the collapse of the thermal coal market had changed the mix of towboats we see here on my part of the Ohio River.  Coal still dominates cargo shipments here, but not as much as it did a decade ago. As companies move their equipment to other rivers, where it can take care of the grain trade, other companies and other boats have moved in.

Today I saw a boat I hadn't seen before, the M/V Silver of Harco Marine of Seattle, Wash. I had to read that right to make sure the Coast Guard documentation said Seattle, which it did. I don't know which company leases the Silver or operates it. That could be Harco or it could be someone else.

The Silver was built in 2013. It's 75 feet long and 30 feet wide. The Coast Guard lists its hailing port as Portland, Ore.

The rest comes from www.tugboatinformation.com:

Built in 2013 by Conrad Shipyard of Morgan City, La., for Harley Marine Services of Seattle. Named for actor Winifred "Sunset Carson" Harrison's horse, Silver, who starred alongside Carson in the film "Sunset Carson Rides Again."

(From imdb.com: "Sunset Carson Rides Again" came out in 1948. In the movie, Sunset Carson (1920-1990) is trying to raise money for a new school, and his partner, Sam Webster, is out to stop him. When Carson plans a benefit prize-fight, Webster plans to make off with the proceeds.).

Built in 2013 by Conrad Shipyard Incorporated of Morgan City, Louisiana (hull #1009) as the Silver for Harley Marine Services Incorporated of Seattle, Washington.

Powered by two, Tier II compliant Cummins K38M diesel engines. With Twin Disc MGX5321 reduction gears, at a ratio of 5.96:1. Turning two, 72(in) four bladed, fixed pitch, stainless steel propellers. For a rated 2,000 horsepower.

Her electrical service is provided by two, 85kW Cummins 6BTA5.9-DM generator sets. The tug's capacities are 30,000 gallons of fuel, 6,000 gallons of water, and 200 gallons of lube oil.

The towing gear consists of two, Nabrico 20-HE, hydro electric winches, mounted on her bow.

P.S. You can watch the entire 63-minute movie on YouTube if you wish. I didn't. Maybe someday. Who knows?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

M/V Linda Reed, another view

M/V Canton coming out of the Big Sandy

It didn't take long for the M/V Canton to go up the Big Sandy River, drop its barge and come back out to the wider, more civilized (?) river. As I was about to leave Virginia Point Park at Kenova and head home ...

You would think people at the youth  soccer matches would drop everything and get a good look at a towboat passing by.

But considering how often Marathon boats go in and out of the Big Sandy, it's probably not a big deal.

And finally, the Canton is almost to the mouth of the Big Sandy, with beautiful downtown Catlettsburg, Ky., in the background.

Monday, October 15, 2018

M/V Canton

Coming down the Ohio River and turning to go up the Big Sandy.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

M/V Linda Reed on a gray day

With the gray sky and the overall gloom on the landscape, it felt more like February than October, even with all the green leaves on the trees. If there was one redeeming quality about today — other than getting to spend a little time with the granddaughter — there was the M/V Linda Reed dropping 15 loaded coal barges at Virginia Point there at the mouth of the Big Sandy River before it headed lightboat down to what used to be called Merdie Boggs'.

I got several pictures. Here are two, and they are not necessarily the best I got today.

Even if I should have spent more time in productive endeavors today, I can't help but think it was time well wasted, as a country singer would say.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Three boats

With a lot of stuff going on, I forgot to post these pictures from Oct. 10, when another component of the Shell cracker plant went upriver, followed by the M/V Ginger Moller.

First, two boats moving the cracker plant part. In the lead pulling is the M/V Miss Michelle. At the rear pushing is the M/V Miss Carolyn

This struck me as unusual because normally they have a Gulf Coast tug doing the pulling, but not this time.

And here is Crounse's Ginger Moller.

If you look close enough in the third photo, you can see the cracker plant load a mile or two ahead of the Moller.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

M/V Paul G. Blazer at Greenup, part 2 of 2

And here are photos of the M/V Paul G. Blazer entering the locks at Greenup from the upriver side.

Frustrating the light was that day, with the sun ducking in and out of clouds light and dark. But we got our pics anyway.

There are a few more photos I need to process of another boat and of the dam itself.

Monday, October 8, 2018

M/V Paul G. Blazer, part 1 of 2

Here we do something a little different. I got pictures of the M/V Paul G. Blazer as it was entering the Greenup Locks and Dam and as it was exiting the locks. The problem is that the light was so much  better on entry than on exit.

So let's run the exit photos first and save the better ones for the next blog entry.

FYI, these exit photos were taken as a dark cloud moved over the dam. I had to work with the images some to lighten them up, as my camera underexposed them a bit. I think.

This was the closest I had ever been to the Blazer, so even if the light was not to my liking, my proximity was.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Photo to painting?

Today was the first day I took a picture and when I got home and looked at it, I said it might look nice as a painting.

If I were to think deeper there might be more of my river photos that would fit that description. I remember one I got on June 29,1986, that would look good as a pencil drawing.

But I have no talent for these things, nor do I have the money to have my good pictures developed as big canvas prints, so I'll just enjoy them on the screen and in an envelope or an album.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A horizontal rainbow at Greenup

Today I was at the Greenup Locks and Dam to get up-close photos of some boats, but I came away with something I had never seen before — a horizontal rainbow.

We had just had a sunshower. That's when it's all bright sunlight but pouring rain. The rain was short-lived. I was planning to walk back down closer to the river when  I looked  toward the dam and saw this.

For reference, I'm on the Kentucky side a little above the dam itself but not above the end of the guide wall. The green trees in the middle of the picture are along the river. Behind them is four-lane U.S. 52. Then you see the rainbow and behind it are the Ohio hills.

From what little I have read tonight about horizontal rainbows, they may or may not be rare here  in the United States. If I've ever seen one before, I don't remember it.

Either way, they are cool. Really cool.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

A tale of two herons

The Saturday before Labor Day, my granddaughter was introduced to the idea there are big gentle birds called herons that walk along the shore, looking for fish to eat. She wanted to see one,  but there were none around.

One evening last week, when we went to the playground for her to burn off some energy and for me to get some new photos of her to go along with the hundreds I've already shot this year, she saw a heron walking on the banks of the Ohio, where the water was high from recent rains upstream.

I told my girl she would have to walk slowly and quietly if she expected to get near the heron, as they are very shy around people. She surprised me by doing just that.

As my granddaughter drew closer, the heron walked away slowly. We were limited in where we could walk because much of the parking lot was still covered in thick, wet mud.

Eventually the heron got too far away, so we went to play on the playground. My granddaughter was disappointed that she could not get close enough to the heron to touch it.

I was reminded of that today when I was at the park at the mouth of the Guyandotte River. Across the Guyandotte a white heron landed and walked in the water near the shoreline, jabbing at the water every now and then in search of a snack, I assume.

I apologize for the quality of the photo. It's as much as my camera and lens would allow, given the distance.

I wish my girl could have been there to see it.

P.S. In case you're wondering about all that trash along the shore in the first photo, the river rose the next day or two and carried it all downstream. Now it's someone else's problem. Isn't that the reason people threw all that stuff  in the river and its tributaries to begin with?

P.P.S. I made a mistake at the park last week. We stayed until she was worn out,  not until I was worn out.

Monday, October 1, 2018

M/V Stephen L

This boat delivered a load of stuff to the Shell cracker under construction at Monaca, Pa., and it was heading back down the river Sunday, Sept. 30, when I saw it. It looked so odd from a distance that I knew I had to find the next decent shooting spot downriver to get a few images, which I did.

Compared to the boats we usually see on the Ohio, this is an odd one. The long stretch from the living quarters to the tow knees, the backwards-facing pilothouse windows, the smokestacks beside the the pilothouse ... everything about this boat screams the common expression, you're not from around here, are you? (This is not always a friendly question, by the way).

For the record, the Stephen L is owned by Triple S Towing of Morgan City, Louisiana. It was built in 2008. It's 66 feet long and 26 feet wide. It drafts 8 feet.