Cadet Shipping Experience on the Great Lakes: Day 1

by Ben Dinsmore on January 9, 2011

In the spring and early summer of 1997 I sailed on the Great Lakes as a deck cadet on board the bulk ore and coal carrying ship “James R. Barker“. The following articles are pulled directly from the journal I maintained during my 60 days on board the vessel. Enjoy!

Day 1: Meeting the ship in Taconite Harbor, MN:

May 3rd, 1997

Jay Armstrong (an engineering cadet in my class assigned to the same ship) and I left from the airport in Portland, ME at 10:15am bound for Boston, MA. After a 3 hour layover in Boston we made our first connection bound for Minneapolis, MN. From Minneapolis we flew into Duluth, MN to meet Evelyn Lundeen who was the wife of one of the James R. Barker’s crew members. (I later found out she was meeting her husband Donald Lundeen and had graciously volunteered to give Armstrong and I a ride to meet the ship).

Donald and Evelyn Lundeen: Mrs. Lundeen picked me up at the airport in Duluth, MN and gave me a ride to meet the ship.

Mrs. Lundeen drove Armstrong and I (along with another crew member of the ship) to Taconite Harbor which was approximately 90 miles NE of Duluth, MN on the northern shore of Lake Superior. Unfortunately, our luggage did not arrive at the Duluth airport so we made arrangements to have the luggage delivered to the dock in Taconite Harbor where the ship was currently loading iron ore pellets.

After reporting onboard the ship, Armstrong and I were shown our room and where the galley was. We explored the ship and got familiar with our emergency muster stations and finally hit the rack around 0100 (now that I’m on board the ship, I’ll start using “military” time).

At 0230 we were informed that our luggage had arrived.  Armstrong and I each breathed a sigh of relief since the ship was scheduled to leave within a few hours and it really would have sucked to be without any of our personal belongings until we made it to the next port!

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