So the ship I was looking for was the St. Marys Challenger. She's been a boat that I've wanted to see ever since I became a serious boatwatcher. At 107 years old, she currently holds the title of oldest active lake freighter. Although it's not certain that she will be holding that title for much longer as there is talk of her getting removed from service.
With so many younger boats getting removed from service and being scrapped, it's amazing that a ship this old still sails on the Great Lakes. You may ask how this is possible. Well, there are a number of reasons. The main reason is that fresh water of the lakes is not as corrosive on ships as saltwater. The other reason is because a smaller boat is actually advantageous in the cement business. Many of the cement plants are on smaller rivers than many of the other things that accept cargo on the Great Lakes.
Still, 107 years old. It's hard to imagine anything that's 107 years old, let alone something that is still sailing. She was built 2 years before the last time the Cubs won the World Series. Three years before she was born, the Wright Brothers made their first flight. The Wright Brothers wouldn't even recognize the planes flying these days. It was two years before the first Model T was introduced. I think Henry Ford might have an easier time recognizing a modern car but still there have been a number of advances there too. But I digress....
So I watch AIS at sporadic times of the day on Monday and saw that she wouldn't be leaving Detroit until later in the day. I figured that I would be catching her on the St. Clair River but I saw that she wasn't leaving Detroit, so I decided to head down to Detroit. As I was driving, I flipped on the marine radio app on my phone and heard that she was leaving the dock. So I didn't think I'd catch her until I heard that she would be fueling at Mistersky Fuel Docks.
But still, I was a little dismayed when I arrived to this scene. I thought I'd missed her because it would take forever for her to fuel. But nope, it would only be an hour or so.
It seems like every year people say that it's going to be her last year. This year is no different but there are rumors that they may convert her to a diesel. I guess of the options facing her that would be the best as it wouldn't alter her appearance too much. The other rumor is that they are going to convert her to a tug/barge. That would suck. There is also the possibility she may become a storage ship like the Townsend. That wouldn't be too bad as you could still see her but still, it is kind of cool to have a ship over 100 years old sailing on the lakes.