Monday, June 7, 2010

Last Shipment from Cianbro

 UPDATE:  Cianbro has since begun shipping modules to Newfoundland; see those shipments at Reporting Dead Sea Mammals.   And the Patience did return, though it alternates between Belfast and Bangor
A sad day. Jun 4 was the last shipment from the Cianbro facility in Brewer to the Oil Refinery in Port Arthur Texas. Since March 26, 2009 we’ve been watching the modules ship out, watching the empty barge and tugboats head back up the river and being reminded of when the Penobscot was heavily used for transportation.
The shipment was scheduled to leave Brewer at 2. We left our house at 1:30. Two kayaks heading north at 3 knots, 30 minutes before the barge headed south at 6 knots would give us an intersection at the Sou. (See, algebra is useful!) A good plan, there would be no cliff behind us to swing back waves.
“It’s not two hours before high,” Mark complained, “We’re ten feet down.” (He was right, when we checked later it was closer to three plus hours before high.) “They’ve never left this early.” Usually they left two hours before high, so as to hit the narrows between Verona Island and Prospect at slack tide.
“But that’s what the paper said.” I argued.
Ahead on the highlands clouds of dust blew across the sky.
“Smoke?” I asked
“Pollen.” Mark stopped to record this event, pollen blowing like fog across the water. Across the water was a yellow sheen, and in the back eddies, a collection of yellow.

As we headed up beyond Reed’s Brook Island the parade came into sight, and a small motor boat came up behind us, throwing up more of a wake than the barge would. It looked to be a photographer and a pilot, and they parked mid river, the better to get shots. Meanwhile we continued our trudge to the Sou.

There we sat and waited. Kristina A led the parade, with a heavy chain pulling the barge behind, the large Cianbro sign mounted on a center module. Fornier and Fort Point made up the rear, Fournier roped to barge and Fort Point riding free. Both the rear tugs had several construction workers on board. I suspect they were going only as far as Stockton Springs.

Going up the river seemed dull compared to watching the parade, so we paddled downstream, hampered at first by the wake (which should have been helping us) then as they pulled further and further ahead, only by the incoming current, stream and mostly our exhaustion.
It was a long trip back to the landing, where the tide was still quite low.
The Patience, a replica steamboat has not reappeared in Bangor, I think last year’s awful weather spelled the end for that craft. The cruise ships were cutting back trips from Bangor because of difficulties flying into the city. And that was the last shipment of modules. It will be a much duller river.

The first barge leaves:

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