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Steve Foss

Canal Park, Duluth, and the U.S. Brig Niagara

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Lisa and I did manage to break away from Ely yesterday and zip down to Duluth to photograph the last of the three tall sailing ships that had been in port since last Thursday.

Two of them had departed on Monday, but this one, the U.S. Brig Niagara, didn't leave until about 6:15 on Tuesday evening. We narrowly missed getting there in time (by 10 minutes) to photograph the Niagara as it returned from a five-hour cruise about 2 p.m., and that was a shame, because it would have been coming directly at the camera with the sun full on it.

But you can't always control events, and we had a lot of fun hanging out for four hours, talking with folks, handing out business cards, petting dogs.

It was a fine time and a gorgeous day, and since Lisa would be totally happier in Duluth than in Ely, any excuse I can use to get here down there makes it a great day. gringrin

There would have been some wonderful pictures to make of the crew unfurling sail and getting everything shipshape if I'd been in a boat, but the trip was spur-of-the-moment so there wasn't time to line that up. That being said, I was mighty tempted to wave 50 bucks at one of the motorboats heading through the canal and jump down with my camera gear for a bit of a boat ride to follow the Niagara for awhile.

All with the Canon 30D, Canon 17-40 f4L and Canon 400 f5.6L.

Approaching the lift bridge

iso200, 1/500 at f14, 17mm


A tight fit

iso200, 1/400 at f14, 40mm


One big ship

iso200, 1/250 at f14, 17mm


In command

iso400, 1/2500 at f6.3, 400mm


Looking back at port

iso400, 1/1600 at f6.3, 400mm


Up the rigging like a monkey

iso400, 1/2000 at f6.3, 400mm


Unfurl the sails!

iso400, 1/2000 at f6.3, 400mm


Alone on the inland sea? (the flag reads "Don't give up the ship")

iso400, 1/1600 at f9, 400mm


Nope, plenty of company

iso200, 1/400 at f9


Courting the wind (shot after we raced to a C-store parking lot overlooking the lake at 21st Ave. E

iso200, 1/400 at f9, 400mm


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You're lucky Steve, the incoming from my understanding was a photo disaster with all the pleasure boats that were surrounding the ships as they sailed in. These look relatively boat free compared to other pics I saw.

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Thanks, guys.

Yeah, I figured it would be nuts when the ships first came in. In fact, they never left port but that they weren't surrounded by pleasure boaters, from what I understand. I suppose that's par for the course. I'd dearly love to get out on the open ocean and photograph these tall ships heading into a gale with the bone in their teeth and unaccompanied by modern craft. I love big ships and big water, and am getting shivers just thinking about it. And sailing her would be marvelous. It would be the opportunity of a lifetime. The short time spent photographing her simply whetted my appetite.

The Niagara originally was supposed to depart between 3 and 4 p.m. yesterday, and that got moved back to 5 p.m., and it didn't ultimately happen until after 6 p.m. What I heard on the pier was that there had to be a 300-foot buffer around the Niagara in order for her to leave port, and it took all that time to clear the area enough.

I don't know if it's true or not.

At any rate, while I liked getting some images with modern boats in the frame (the feeling of anachronism is strong in such images), I really wanted to get some with nothing but the boat and the water, so I was gratified that once the ship left port there were windows of clear sailing, so to speak, and of course once we sprinted up to 21st Ave. E., most of the punks had left the big girl alone. With just a little doctoring of the Wisconsin shore, it could look like a quiet day on the Atlantic along undeveloped American or Canadian coastline in 1800 or so.

I'm especially happy with the uncluttered comp of the last image. Sure wish I could've gotten her with full sails flying, but she angled away from shore the farther out she got, and it just couldn't happen. I don't have a market for the images. Had I had a client, I'd have rented a boat (or put out an appeal for help from an HSO/FMer in Duluth who wanted to make a little extra jing). gringrin

But it was simply a beautiful day under perfect weather to be out and about on the pier. I've got about 600 other images from yesterday that have nothing to do with tall ships, but they'll wait for another time.

For more info on the U.S. Brig Niagara, which was salvaged off the Lake Erie floor and rebuilt from the keel up, go here.

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that looks pretty sweet, im heading to duluth this weekend, hope to see some boats like that, would be pretty cool

Yes, in about 2 years though. I have heard they may come back, since the demand was so great.

Great images Steve. I am glad you where able to make it.

I have some inside images of the Niagara and Madeline I will post in the Duluth forum. I figured I would wait since I had and idea Steve might be heading down.

I thought I would never say this, but I do love these ships. I also met and spoke with the gentleman in the image briefly on Saturday. I do not think he is the Capitan though, all thought he does look in charge. I was lead to believe the smaller long curly blond hair guy was Capitan of the Niagara. This ship does not have a Wheel, it is a rudder style ship. It takes 2-3 men/women to steer the ship.

Again, great images Steve.

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Oh, also Steve!

They had a flyer on the Niagara that they where looking for some more people to volunteer as mates on up coming voyages. You would have to get your hands dirty or burned grin, but what a deal that would be. I think it is about a six day tour.

Pretty much all of the shipmates where fresh when they left Duluth Harbor. The image of those girls was of their first moments out to open water. Cool!

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Cool, shack. Once you post, we can cross-link our threads so folks on that board will know about these images and folks on this board will know about your images.

Also, I did not necessarily think he was the captain, but he was issuing commands that were being followed, thus the title.

Sure would be great to sail on her. I'd volunteer to be the voyage photographer in a heartbeat! And I'd man the lines, too.

And FWIW, news reports I heard said that 125,000 came out to see the ships last weekend, making it not only the biggest tall-ships event in Duluth history, but the largest event of any kind in Duluth.

Thanks for the explainer on the crew members. That one female crew member sure looks like she left her beast beau behind on the dock. grin

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You know, it was so crazy when I asked about a Captain, the person who was guiding people on the gangplank just pointed to the blond guy and said "he is the one that makes the commands to us". Their was about 4 guys who where dress the same as the guy in the image. I think all of them are equal in some way. The persons dressed in blue shirts where newbie deckhands. I know that for sure.

You should sing up Steve grin

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Shack, I'm sure there was someone in ultimate command, but it's quite common to have ship's officers commanding different divisions of the crew, under overall command of the captain.

If I'd have known they were taking on volunteers for the next leg of the Niagara's cruise, you'd have had to hit me with a ball from one of the ships carronades to keep me from getting on board. Two hundred and fifty pounds of determined photographer with a Canon in his teeth boarding a brig is very hard to stop. gringrin

Now, alas, I suspect it'll involve too much of a travel expense for me to catch a ride until the brig (or another tall ship that takes vols) approaches Duluth harbor once more.

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Definitely some nice shots there Steve!!! I had hoped to go tour them, but when I heard about several hours wait, not me.

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I think they have up coming voyages open alsoooo whistle

You would just have to fly to one point and fly back from another. I will do some checking grin

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Great shots Steve!Love that last image especially!..about 20 years ago my wife and I had the good fortune to see "Old Ironsides"(USS.Constitution)up close at a port in Boston, Mass..(We lived in southern New Hampshire for 4 years)......simply great memories!...but digital photography wasn't "in" yet so no pics cry...not sure what kinds of ships those 3 were in "brig"for sure...then there's the brigantines Barks,Barkintines,Sloops,Schooners... whatever the terminology is, they sure looked great! grin

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