Sugar Beach got its name not because the sand is as fine as sugar (although it might be), but because it's right next to the Redpath Sugar Refinery. Living this close to a sugar refinery means that if the wind is right, my neighbourhood smells like molasses. It means often seeing really big ships docked right there, loading off raw sugar from the Caribbean so that Redpath to do its thing. And it means often hearing the deep honk of a ship's horn coming through my window in the late afternoon as a ship prepares to leave. It makes me feel like I'm living close to the sea and you know how much I like that.

Despite having seen an awful lot of ships and heard an awful lot of horns, I have yet to see one actually arriving or departing. That changed last week when I hid down on the beach restoring my sanity. I'd been sitting with my eyes closed, absorbing the rays of the sun like a lizard when something made me look up and out over the lake. And that's when I saw this

I know that Lake Ontario is deep. I know it's part of the St.Lawrence Seaway. But it still a bit of a surprise to see a ship that large heading slowly but inexorably, more or less right towards you. It feels a little fraught with danger.

As it got closer, some nutter from Thunder Bay played a game of seemed ill-advised 


Eventually, he came to his senses and stayed put. When determining right-of-way, big wins.

The closer the ship got, the bigger it became. Maybe it was the contrast between the ship and the beach or maybe it was the contrast between the ship and a tiny little tugboats that hugged its sides


It was a sight to behold - an incredible exercise in precision. The beach continued being the beach, which included the Toronto punk band Billy Talent having their picture taken there on the right


When the ship had done as much as it could (or, I suppose, its captain had done as much as he could), the tugboats in a 90° turn and started pushing. Which explains how the ships get as close as they do to the dock.that was a sight to behold, to - these tiny little boats pushing a behemoth and actually moving it.

In the process, they churned up the water, making the seagulls very happy

And at the end, I saw something which put to shame Mr. Thunder Bay and his game of chicken. The only title I could think of for this photo is 'Cojones."



Gaina said…
Have you got any kind of sound record machine? I'd love to hear some of the things you hear ;)
Justaplainsam said…
Very cool photos!
AlisonH said…
Sometimes you Darwin, sometimes you go out on a Dar and then you -lose.

Dang, dude, what if your mother sees you doing that.
Diane said…
Reminds me of when we were on a river cruise in the Netherlands. The captain invited us into the bridge where we got to see the neatest technology. He had radar for each of the 4 "corners" of the ship that could be zoomed in as close as he needed. They also had a dimensional grid overlay. To precisely move the ship, he had joysticks that would ever so delicately, in our captain's hands, turn the engines on/off (my terminology is likely not right) to push the ship where it needed to go. Granted, it was not as big a ship as a freighter, but the waterways were also much, much smaller than Lake Ontario. Seriously, I could have watched him work all day long!
Anonymous said…
When I was a teen, I went to the Redpath Sugar Museum, located at their processing plant. We weren't allowed to go into the actual plant area, but we did see videos of it. Very odd seeing bulldozers driving over mountains of sugar.
Not sure if the museum is still there or not, but even back then, it was only open to group tours.