trainspotting (blog)

Special delivery

Upholding tradition, Mike, Jeff and Brad sign the first copy of Lake Boats second edition at the J.W. Westcott Co. dock.

Valentine works away as mail boat captain Sam Buchanan (pictured on page 130) looks over his copy of Lake Boats II.

Tradition matters. And it was tradition that brought Brad Jolliffe, Jeff Mast, Mike Valentine, and me to the Detroit River dock of the J.W. Westcott Co., on Tuesday afternoon. Tradition and a box of second edition copies of Lake Boats hot off the press. 

With a sack of sandwiches from Gonellas and a stack of books, we gathered — just as we had for the release of the first edition of Lake Boats on September 17, 2007 — at the Westcott dock, home of mail boat J.W. Westcott II, the only floating United States Post Office and the only boat with its own zip code. One of the most satisfying aspects of publishing is the opportunity to present the work of talented friends. Lake Boats includes the work of Jolliffe, Mast and Valentine, along with Jim Koglin and Mike Harting. Unfortunately, Koglin, who recently passed away, and Harting (unable to secure a day pass from work) were absent. They were with us in spirit, though, as we honoured the ritual of gathering to celebrate the new title.

A steady procession of ships kept the mail boat busy as we marked the occasion by collectively signing a few special "first day" copies of Lake Boats II and imprinted each with the mail boat's unique postmark and "Mail by the Pail" cancellation stamps. The choice of location was doubly significant. Not only were we returning to where we'd launched the original edition of Lake Boats, the second edition includes an essay recalling the 2007 experience.

Thanks to Brad, Jeff, Mike, and the mail boat crew, September 9, 2014 was one for the book(s).

Valentine has his work cut out for him

Detroit Fire Department fire boat Curtis Randolph returns to its dock next door to Westcott as the mail boat heads out to meet Algoma Enterprise.

Mail call for Algoma Enterprise, upbound after a stop at the Sterling fuel dock.

J.W.. Westcott II  returns home as Algoma Enterprise ducks beneath the Ambassador Bridge.

Mail call: Canada Steamship Lines Baie St. Paul on the approach.

Captain Sam at the helm as the J.W. Westcott II heads out on a mail run to meet downbound Canada Steamship Lines Baie St. Paul.

View from the Westcott: Mast and Baie St. Paul .

Running meet: Baie St. Paul encounters American Steamship Co., American Century, upbound at the Ambassador Bridge.

American Century heads upriver as the Westcott paces CSL Baie St. Paul downstream.

Westcott closing in on Baie St. Paul and the Ambassador Bridge.

Mail by the pail.

Mail by the pail.

Byrd and Buchanan: mission accomplished, a wave and a whistle salute from Baie St. Paul and we're away.

A touch of class.

Baie St. Paul flanked by Algolake at the Sterling fuel dock (left) and American Mariner (right).

Baie St. Paul flanked by Algolake at the Sterling fuel dock (left) and American Mariner (right).

Heavy traffic. CSL Baie St. Paul passes upbound American Steamship Lines Buffalo as American Mariner heads to the fuel dock.

Sam holds the Westcott steady as Byrd grabs the mail bucket lowered from the Buffalo.

Buffalo churns upriver.

Parting company.

Back at the dock, Byrd disembarks as the Buffalo carries on upriver.  Westcott's next-door neighbour, Detroit Fire Department fire boat Curtis Randolph stands ready for business.

Delivering mail and two crew members, the Westcott paces Great Republic downstream.

J.W. Westcott II, Great Republic and the Ambassador Bridge.

Pilot boat Huron Maid looks on as Great Republic sails down-river.

Two editions

greg mcdonnellComment