Several years ago our Facebook page “I Love Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan” stumbled across some great freighter photos taken by a young lady calling herself Boat Girl Freighter Chaser (Becky Barclay). We featured her Facebook page and we’ve been hungry for more of her photos ever since. We had a chance to sit down and ask Becky a few questions about being a Boatnerd.
Q: How did you first get introduced to freighters?
A: My first experience with freighters was in 2003 on a family trip to the Upper Peninsula. I was 9 years old and fell completely in love with the big ships sailing past me in the river. My grandfather and I spent hours sitting at the locks and at Rotary Park, after he passed away in 2006 boats became my way to remember him.
Q: How did you find your Freighter Chasing family here in the Soo?
A: I first met the “Boatnerds” opening day of the Soo Locks March 2013. It was my first opening day and ended up striking up a conversation with some nerds in the viewing stands and at Rotary Park. Over the years those people have introduced me to more nerds in person and on Facebook. Since then I have become a part of the family that is the Boatnerds!
Q: What’s the farthest you’ve chase a freighter for a photo and where?
A: It is hard to say the farthest I’ve chased a boat for a photo, but I know I’ve spent whole days chasing up and down rivers. I have chased from West Pier to DeTour, and Port Huron to Algonac. How far I chase depends on who I am with and what boat we are chasing.
Q: What’s the longest you’ve waited on shore for a freighter?
A: I remember a spring day checking AIS and seeing a parade of traffic ending with the Lee A. Tregurtha, I really wanted to see the Lee A. as I hadn’t seen her much. I sat on a rock pile at West Pier for about 12 hours watching the parade waiting for the Lee A to make an appearance. She ended up stopping for the night at Big Point just above West Pier just far enough away for me to get a nice shot of her sitting in the sunset and ice. Another long wait on shore was for the Edwin H. Gott to clear the lock up bound trying to not get stuck in the ice that was on the upper side of the river.
Q: Favorite Freighter and why?
A: It is impossible to pick just one favorite boat, my favorite changes every season depending on who I want to see and how often that boat goes through. If I had to pick one, it would be the S.S. Reserve because she is the first boat I remember seeing in the Sault on my first trip to Sault Ste. Marie.
Q: We know you collect photos of Boat Captains; how many do you have?
A: Over the years, I have come to know a few captains in person and just by a wave or salute as they pass. I try to get a picture of them if they come out on deck or are visible in the window. They are someone’s family and I try to get pictures of crew for the families to who happen to see my photos. I could not count how many photos of captains I have because many times I do not know if I have seen the captain or if it is just another crew member.
Q: Of the photos you have taken which would you say is your favorite?
A: Favorite photo is hard. It changes season to season based on a new spot found or a new angle. Currently, my favorite is a head on shot of the Kaye Barker making the turn down bound at the Neebish Island ferry dock.
Q: Favorite freighter chasing story if you haven’t told us already.
A: When I think about all the memories it’s hard to pick one favorite story. One that will always stick out is an October weekend with the Nerd’s holding fleet flags in front of headlights using air horns on a truck to blow salutes to the ships.
Q: What do you love most about boat chasing?
A: My favorite thing about boat chasing is the people I meet along the way. I have made so many friends along the way that have become more like family. We come from all different backgrounds but come together for one common love of boats.
Q: Which other colleges or universities did you look at attending?
A: I never really looked at any other colleges other than Lake Superior State University (LSSU). I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to study until I found out there was a school in Sault Ste. Marie with an education program. After that, I applied and got in here. That summer I went to Marquette for the first time and looked at Northern only to realize even though it is close to the Ore Docks, I did not like that campus as much as I loved LSSU.
Thank you Becky for taking the time to share your love of boats with us.
When you take photos of freighters in Sault Ste. Marie don’t forget to tag them #ILovetheSoo on social media! Who know’s you might be the next Boatnerd featured here.