The freighter lanes.


When I was a teenager, I used to visit my friend Paul at his family’s summer cottage in the Upper Peninsula. In the Les Cheneaux Islands, to be specific. If you click that link, you’ll see on the mini-map that the Snows, as they’re called, are an archipelago of three dozen separate islands in northern Lake Huron. Les Cheneaux means “the channels,” and their geography gives them an in interesting characteristic — protected, inland-type boating waters in the second-largest Great Lake.

Of course you could stay entirely inside the channels, but we liked to visit the “big lake” outside the land mass. We’d ride rollers and otherwise screw around in the various boats at our disposal. We rarely announced that we were planning this, because it was likely to set off a stock speech from Paul’s grandmother, Cornelia, whom we all called Cor:

“No, you’re not! Don’t you remember when the car broke down last month, and it turned out to be a 75-cent part? What if that happened in that boat? You’d be dead in the water, and there’d be nothing you could do about it. You’d be swept into the freighter lanes! And swamped!”

(I’m sorry I can’t do Cor’s very distinctive voice for you, too, because it added considerably to our amusement at all this.)

In the manner of large bands of drunken young people everywhere, we seized on “swept into the freighter lanes” and made it one of our many catch phrases and inside jokes. Someone was late arriving? Obviously she’d been swept into the freighter lanes. Heading out for a beer run? Don’t get swept into the freighter lanes. Skinny-dipping at midnight? Help, help, I’m being swept into the freighter lanes!

So maybe you can see why the passing of large ships always tickles me.

Today we came fairly close to the freighter lanes, as you can see here. That’s the ore freighter Presque Isle, which Boatnerd tells me is bound for Two Harbors, Minn., to pick up a load of taconite.

She made a big wake, but we weren’t swamped.

I don’t know if you can pick it out, but there’s a tiny boat between us and the Presque Isle with one guy fishing in the forward chair. Just outside the frame is a pleasure boat of considerable size, which came between the fisherman and the freighter. The passengers were all standing on deck and woo-wooing about something — presumably the freighter. The fisherman waved his arm disgustedly; they were way too close. They took this as an endorsement of their high spirits, and woo-woo’d more. They were probably imitating someone’s grandmother. What goes around comes around.

Photo bonus: Me, en route to the freighter lanes, c. 1980? ’81? Around there.


I never came up with anything interesting to say about Robertson and Wildmon. Ultimately I think it’s a story I’ve heard and read too many times: Lunatic Christian Says Crazy Things; Film at 11. However, Matthew Yglesias and the commenters over at TPM Cafe have some interesting points, if you’re interested.

And a funny piece on a show I watched once, found strangely compelling and was forbidden to watch again, thanks to my grumpy spouse — “Brat Camp,” which Sam Anderson at Slate liked even more.

Have a good weekend. I’m tapped, and plan to let the well refill.

Posted at 9:10 pm in Uncategorized |

6 responses to “The freighter lanes.”

  1. brian stouder said on August 25, 2005 at 9:53 pm

    Regarding the ‘photo bonus’ – and in accord with the pleasure boaters near the freighter lanes –


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  2. Nance said on August 25, 2005 at 10:32 pm

    Both the guys in the boat were gay. But who took the picture? Can’t reacall.

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  3. brian stouder said on August 25, 2005 at 11:29 pm

    “Both the guys in the boat were gay.”


    See – it just goes to show ya!

    A straight fellow like me might see a motor boat with a sexy babe bedecking the bow flit past – and after ogling the hottie and envying the fellows on the boat with her – console himself with the (cold) comfort that those guys are “probably gay anyway”…..

    and in this particular one-in-a-million shot actally be right!!!

    What a world!

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  4. cc said on August 27, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    Gee, Nancy, your hair looks suspiciously dark in that picture, compared with the Detroit News picture next to your blog!

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  5. Nance said on August 27, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    …said the last person in America who never saw that “only her hairdresser knows for sure” ad.

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  6. John said on August 29, 2005 at 7:50 am

    Cat Fight!!!!

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