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Category Archives: Duluth Ship Canal

In the past I saw large numbers of Common Goldeneyes in the Duluth Ship Canal and Harbor but after the brutal winter of 2014 when everything froze up they seemed to disappear. This year they are back although in smaller numbers.

I was up early to watch the American Century leave Duluth.




If there is heavy surf on Lake Superior I like to walk out onto the South Breakwater and watch the waves crash into the breakwater.




This past August we drove up to Duluth Minnesota to attend the Tall Ship Festival. This is a huge event in Duluth and it is the second time we have attended.There were nine ships at this year’s festival.

As we drove into town we noticed that the Pride of Baltimore II was tied up at the docks in Superior, Wisconsin so we drove over to take a look.


We were a bit disappointed with this years festival. The crowds were so large that it was almost impossible to get on the ships. This year they sold special passes that allowed you to go to the head of the line but even those lines were long. the last time it was held it was relatively easy to get on the ships but not this year. We had friends come up to visit the ships but they decided it wasn’t worth standing in line. They weren’t the only ones that gave up. We decided to skip the ship festival and drive up to Gooseberry Falls State Park. Turns out a lot of other folks had the same idea and there were no places to park at Gooseberry.

In addition to the problem of getting on the ships it was very difficult to move around the waterfront. The famous Blue Bridge was a huge bottleneck with long lines waiting to get across the bridge. It was even worse when the bridge had to open to let ships through. There was another bottleneck in back of the aquarium. There was an art show taking place at Bayfront Park and several times we just gave up and went back to the condo because the crowds were so large. I suppose the event was a success for the city but it was a very negative experience for the visitor.

My wife was particularly disappointed that the Norwegian Viking Ship  Draken Harald Hårfagre  was not able to make it to the festival. We had followed their five weeks from sail from the North Sea, across the Atlantic. We just missed seeing it in Iceland. As it turned out the ship couldn’t couldn’t navigate Lake Superior’s pilot laws. Apparently they were unaware that they had to have a pilot on board and didn’t have the funds to pay for one.

The El Galeón Andalucía was my favorite ship. Unfortunately it didn’t give rides and were weren’t able to get on it this year because of the crowds.

El Galeón Andalucía

El Galeón Andalucía

The Zeeto was docked behind the Mist of Avalon in this shot.



The When and If was giving rides and is shown here entering the Duluth Ship Canal with the North Breakwater Light and Duluth in the background.

When and If

When and If

The US Brig Niagara is showing entering the harbor during the Parade of Tall Ships. We watched the event from the War Memorial Park. The festival did offer an opportunity to sail on one of the Tall Ships during the parade and that is something I would seriously consider doing during the next event.

US Brig Niagara

US Brig Niagara

I happened to catch the Mist of Avalon sailing out of the harbor, early in the morning, as it was leaving Duluth for it’s next destination.

Mist of Avalon

Mist of Avalon

The Denis Sullivan was heading for the docks in Duluth Harbor.

Denis Sullivan

Denis Sullivan

Appledore V under sail in Duluth Harbor.

Appledore V

Appledore V

The Abby Road was a late entry into the festival. I happened to catch it entering the harbor right behind a large ship.

Abby Road

Abby Road




I watched the Great Lakes Trader sail into Duluth Harbor. This is an unusual type of ship for Duluth because the Great Lakes Trader is a barge and is pushed by  the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort.




The Pilica had been setting outside the Duluth Harbor for a few days waiting to load grain. Apparently if they enter the harbor they have to pay a fee for each day it is in the harbor so ships anchor out in the lake until their dock is open. I hadn’t realized the Pilica was entering the harbor until I saw the pilot boat returning. It had gone out to deliver the pilot to the Pilica.




The Pilica was met by a couple of Great Lakes Tugs that will help it navigate to the docks.


I was out on the South Breakwater Light to greet the Federal Rhine as it sailed in to Duluth, Minnesota.



The ship was not carrying any cargo as rode so high in the water that the propeller was almost out of the water.federal-rhine-duluth-minnesota-16-8-1997


As it sailed into the harbor it was met by two Great Lakes Tug boats that assisted it into the docks.federal-rhine-duluth-minnesota-16-8-2024

I had walked down to the Duluth Ship Canal to photograph the sunrise. Before sunrise the American Century exited through the Duluth Ship Canal. It was a little dark to take photos but I managed a few as it sailed under the Aerial Lift Bridge and out into Lake Superior.




I noticed that the Whitefish Bay was going to be leaving Duluth, Minnesota around sunset so I walked down to the harbor to watch. There was a nice sunset which provided a good backdrop as the ship made the turn and headed under the Aerial Lift Bridge.




After watching the ship leave I noticed a beautiful sunset behind the Aerial Lift Bridge.




We have been lucky enough to be in Duluth, Minnesota on Wednesday nights several times this summer. We always go down to the harbor to watch the sailboats come out for the races. The first boat out is usually the buoy boat. It goes out to mark the course about a half hour before the racers come out of the harbor.

Between 5 and 5:30 the sailboats gather in the harbor waiting for the Aerial Lift Bridge to go up. I usually goes up on the half hour during the summer months.

Wednesday-Night-Sailboat-Races-Duluth-Minnesota--16-7-_4268At 5:30 they all head out into the lake in a group. this is what is really fund to watch.





Sailing on Lake Superior is Sailing on a real lake!