Growing up in Nebraska, I didn't have a lot of opportunities to witness any shipping that involved actual ships. Freight, as far as I knew, was moved about by trains. I was almost always within earshot of a train, living there.
Now I live near several ports and have fully embraced being a boat nerd. I'm learning to throw around terms like "footer" and "saltie" (n.b. the "-ie" ending), and, bedecked in my brand-new-for-Christmas windbreaker, I'm trying to learn the ships that frequent our ports by silouette.
Matt gave me the windbreaker as part of a boat nerd package which also included a stack chart, a subscription to the Duluth Shipping News, a hat from the Seafarers International Union, and a 2005 copy of Know Your Ships, a pocket-sized reference guide that gives you all you wanted to know about the lakers you see.
We had a copy of Know Your Ships many years ago, which was always in the wrong glove compartment and was never around when we needed it. But now that I see these beautiful and exciting ships every day, I read it a little more religiously.
I got a shock, though, paging through it on Christmas morning. Cue "Centerfold." There was a nice shot of the Gott in the St. Clair River. When I saw it, I felt annoyed, then a little betrayed. The St. Clair River? I mean, where IS that? I felt like I'd just found out my boyfriend had dated other people before me. I knew it happened -- those ships have to go somewhere with cargo -- and yet, I was much happier when I didn't think about it, or if I did think about it, if I thought that the ships just sort of floated beyond the horizon, returning when they missed me.
I've gotten over it by now, but I see now that the Tregurtha is making its last call here this season, and will be laying up in Sturgeon Bay. Can they possibly love it there as much as I do here? The Presque Isle, one of my very favorite ships, will spend its layup in Erie, Pennsylvania. It's hard to feel like this is the very depths of winter, because it's been unseasonably warm. But ships laying up mean that winter has only begun.