Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Day With the Westcott

I've been doing this blog for close to eight years now.  I've seen many cool things.  During one of my journeys, I stumbled across the J.W. Westcott II.  I didn't know what this unassuming boat in front of this unassuming building was, so I decided to look it up.  I found out that it was a boat used to deliver mail and other things to the ships that were passing Detroit.  It's been a few years since I've seen the Westcott in action and one of my goals was to get a ride on her.

I did call them at one time and asked if it would be possible to get a ride on her.  They didn't seem to mind but I didn't really want to just go there, so I kind of put that on the back burner.  Well sometimes life throws you this little curves.  My mom is a teacher and many of her friends are teachers.  It turns out that one of her friends was a teacher for the Captain of the Westcott.  After some e-mail exchange between them and me, I was able to get one of my goals.  I decided to make the day to go there my birthday because I thought that would be an awesome birthday present.
 John Ward Westcott was born in 1848.  His father was a firefighter and decided to start a shipping company called Ward's Central and Pacific Lake Line.  While John was working in one of his father's boatyards, he earned his Master's papers and became one of the youngest people on the Lakes to do so.

In his time as a shipping master, he decided to form a marine reporting agency for the Great Lakes.  He would row out to the passing ships and give them information about the ports they would be delivering.  This helped smooth out some of the shipping issues.  Over time, it became the service that it is now.
 The Huron Maid is one of the boats that was acquired by the J.W. Westcott Company in order to transfer pilots to the various saltwater vessels that pass through the Great Lakes.  Foreign commercial vessels are required to have a certified Great Lakes pilot on them.  This is mostly so that we can make sure they are following the various laws on the Great Lakes (mostly dealing with pollution laws) but they also help to navigate areas that may be unfamiliar to the crews.
 The J.W. Westcott II was built in 1949 by the Paasch Marine Company.  She is powered by diesel engines.
 Sort of a view of the building from the river side.
 Another shot of the Huron Maid.
 The Westcott is commissioned as a mail boat but they will also deliver anything else that the ships need.  I've heard radio calls for pizzas, newspapers and various other miscellaneous items. 
 The dock is in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge.
 In 1948, the J.W. Westcott became an official US Postal Service Boat.  Eventually she would get her own ZIP Code of 48222.  If you want to send mail to a boat, just address it as "Vessel Name, Marine Post Office, Detroit, MI 48222".
 Another view of the Huron Maid.
 Joseph J. Hogan is another boat owned by the Westcott Company.  She is occasionally used when there are issues with the main boat.  She is named after a man who married one of the Westcotts.  He would later become operating manager of the Westcott company. 
 Sam and Burt were my two gracious hosts. 
 One of the signs on the front of the building.
 Perhaps the roots.
I want to thank Sam for allowing me to tour the Westcott.  He was a very wonderful host and I could tell that he loves his job.  I also want to thank my mom's friend for arranging this.

I am going to post pictures of my encounters with the individual ships in the next few posts.

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