2015 June 17 Escanaba-Beaver Island Connection

At a little before eleven on the morning of Wednesday, June 17, 2015, the telephone rang. Bud Martin was on the other end of the line, and he asked this editor a question, "What are you doing today? I'm planning on a trip up to the UP. Do you want to go?"

He continued, "The weather looks like it might be okay for a trip. I'll check it and call you back. Are you going to be home for an hour or so?" I said that I'd be home, as the excitement meter began to increase. You see, I've been wanting to get a chance to go up to this location to see the results of the work that began in March 2015. This has to be one of the largest investments that any Beaver Island business has made in many years, if ever, and the person who had made this investment was asking me to take a trip with him to see the project coming to fruition.

While I was outside with the dogs for their run in the back yard, I missed the return call, but the answering machine had a message on it. "Give me a call if you want to go." I made the call, and the adventure was on. I was to learn first hand about what this Escanaba-Beaver Island connection was all about, and the opportunity to get lots of pictures would present itself. I wasn't on call as paramedic, and the trip was a go right now.

The Trip

I drove out to Welke Airport to meet Bud Martin at his hanger. I brought a digital photo camera and a digital video camera with me. After a short period of preparation, the aircraft was ready to go. And another first was about to happen. This would be the first time ever taking off from Welke Airport in an aircraft not owned by Welke Aviation or Island Airways.

Bud Martin's aircraft

An off we went into the sky. What an adventure this was to be! Bud Martin provided a guided tour in the process while, at the same time, giving out excellent information about history and I felt like I was on a guided tour by an excellent tour guide.

Here's the first clue regarding the Excanaba-Beaver Island connection.

Can you guess what this trip was all about?

A few pictures of the islands just west of Beaver

A look at the shoals between the islands

High Island and Trout Island

The UP in the distance

Bud flew over a freighter so I could get a picture and also over the light that you can see from the Beaver Island Lodge-Seul Choix Point Lighthouse

Port Inland off to the north and east; Bull Dog Creek, where Phil and Lil Gregg camped when there were no buildings there.

The end of the flight is in sight, the airport near Manistique.

On the ground in Manistique

The air portion of the trip to Escanaba was completed. This is the Manistique airport where Bud Martin keeps a vehicle. This explains the Beaver Island-Manistique connection, but this story is about the Beaver Island-Escanaba connection, so the rest of the trip will need to be completed by highway US 2 and M 41.

Bud Martin poses near the terminal in Manistique, leaving the aircraft tied down at the airport.

A couple of the interesting sights in Manistique

A short stop was made at Bud Martin's dock to pick up something.

And then off to Escanaba..........about an hour and ten minutes away

We have arrived at our destination, and now the mystery will be solved.

After donning the required hard hats per OSHA regulations, we entered the property, and I could not stop looking and taking pictures. I was fascinated with all the old tugs and old barges. I also had my first chance to view what dry dock really means. This was a completely eye-opening experience.

The things to see were bringing up questions that I'd never asked: A pilot house off a freighter, a railroad track with steel on the ground, piles of coal in the distance.

One of the workers at this place....

And, finally, the reason for the trip

The barge that is being built in Escanaba for Bud Martin's Island Energy and Martin Gas and Oil, Named Petroqueen.

The barge is right side up. The tanks are all completed and welded. The new barge Petroqueen will have a capacity of thirty-two thousand (32,000) gallons total in five compartments. The dimensions of the fuel barge are: seventy feet in length, twenty-four feet wide, and eight feet in height (70x24x8). The items sticking up on the deck, shown in the two pictures above are the access to the tanks from the deck. The new barge is needed to transport fuel from the dock in Manistique to the Beaver Island dock. The US government requires, as of 1/1/2015, that the fuel barges must have a double hull. This has come about due to the serious environmental problems caused by the Exon Valdez disaster.

A editorial side note: The amount of fuel transported using this fuel barge will be only 32,000 with a double hull to protect the environment from a disasterous fuel spill in Lake Michigan. However, there are millions of gallons of oil being pumped under the water at the Straits of Mackinac through a fifty plus year old pipeline with no double hull. It would seem that something similar should be required of these Straits pipelines after the disasterous pipeline leak of an Exon pipeline in Kalamazoo two years ago.

Picture of the design for the Petroqueen, the same designer who designed Tanker II.

Finishing touches being completed down in the tanks in preparation for testing.

A discussion took place about how high the lights would need to be placed

The valve that is used to load the tanker with fuel

Piping to the tank number five

The valves determine which tank will received the fuel. Five valves, one for each tank.

A look at the Petroqueen looking from bow to stern from just back from the center

The stern of the Petroqueen and the bow

And out to see the dry dock and other items

The only other vessel in the building with the Petroqueen was a Coast Guard boat.

What a lot to see!

The dry dock and the next vessel going into dry dock.

Old tugs on both sides of the dock

The USCG Cutter Mobile Bay had just been moved from dry dock with the barge it will push to go into dry dock.

This company is building a dock that would accomodate a thousand foot freighter, one on each side.

Another tug...and another Beaver Island connection. Way back in this picture on the right is the "Oil Queen," the fuel barge used by Jewell Gillespie to bring fuel to Beaver Island.

Back inside to say goodbye to the Petroqueen.

The Petroqueen will probably be completed by the first week in July, 2015. The painting will be done by an outside sub-contractor with colors determined by the Petroqueen herself and Travis Martin. The vessel, even though completed, may not be able to haul fuel right away. Bud Martin suggested that he may need to bring the empty fuel barge back to the island while awaiting the federal government certification and licensing to haul fuel in the barge. Paperwork never seems to be completed prior to a project's completion. It always seems to take longer than the actual project's completion.

Bud Martin and Editor Joe Moore had to drive back to Manistique. With road construction, it took another hour and ten minutes plus. Bud Martin had to fuel up the airplane.

Now, the return trip.....

And we said goodbye to Manistique and Seul Choix Point Lighthouse

Trout and High in the distance.....Sand dunes on High Island

Trout Island and the residence on Trout Island....Bud Martin had done the well for this home.

High Island west side and lake on High

Beaver Island Township Airport.........Font Lake and harbor in the distance

The harbor........the Emerald Isle headed to Charlevoix

Back home, landing at Welke Airport, Beaver Island

The Escanaba-Beaver Island Connection involves many aspects, but the main one is the barge being built for fuel transport from Manistique to Beaver Island.

Many thanks to Bud Martin for this adventure! I enjoyed every minute of this trip!