Day 4 on the Denis Sullivan: John’s View (August 15, 2016)

August 15, 2016

The gates are open as the Denis Sullivan enters the Soo Locks.

The Denis Sullivan made it through the Soo Locks today, completing our transition from Lake Huron into Lake Superior. All hands were on deck as the teachers helped the crew prepare the ship for 25 vertical feet of movement by preparing ropes, setting large wooden bumpers onto the ship’s side, and otherwise basically staying out of the way and watching the procedure. And we weren’t the only ones watching: on the American side of the locks was a large two level tribunal, where over a hundred people watched our ship come into the lock, rise with the flooding waters, and move out into Lake Superior. We felt like celebrities!

From a weather perspective, the transition to Lake Superior was almost immediate – a cool wind, light but choppy seas, a sudden increase in clouds. A harsh change from the balmy, sunny cruise we enjoyed heading up the St. Mary’s River. With the increase in wind, the sails were raised and the Denis Sullivan is currently cruising at nearly 8 knots.

In spite of all the excitement, we still managed to get a lot of Great Lakes learning done.   Mini workshops were held on a variety of topics including identifying invasive fish, making live-mount wet slides of fresh water zooplankton, using lake data to understand patterns in the daily vertical migrations of plankton, learning more about the shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, creating PSAs dealing with invasive species and using a variety of maps and graphics to tell the story of Great Lakes’ physical and ecological features, and how invasive species are impacting them.