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From: Jon Paul
Remote Name: 188.8.131.52
Time: 04:23:45 PM
Escanaba, Taconite Harbor and especially Silver bay were much easier loading ports in the winter months. Because of the belt loading systems they have it wasn't necessary to have to be on the dock shifting the boat under the Chutes and at Silver Bay we would get "hot" loads right out of the plant. If the weather was bad on the way down to our unloading port, we would wind up with a beck full off ice again necessitating the hot water hoses being used again. There were times when the Iron Deckhand was so covered in ice that it would take a considerable amount of time just to get it loose. Then the slow careful process would start of melting the track that the crane ran on and working our way down the deck hatch by hatch. These hoses had considerable amount of pressure on them so you would need to melt spots for your feet first just to be able to stand in place. If not you would get blown across the ice on the deck and into something possibly getting injured or worse yet fall into the open cargo hold. Making docks was especially hazardous as ice was always present and with taconite pellets everywhere it was like trying to walk on marbles strewn on an ice rink. Many fellows opted out for "winter relief" which could be requested after December 20th. If you had the seniority you could get the winter off and the guys with low seniority or temporaries would replace them onboard. I always stayed and enjoyed the wealth of experience that i gained during these months. it was during this time that I got my first chance to get my AB and wheel.
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