Port officials in Thunder Bay, Ont. are set to welcome the first vessel of the 2017 shipping season Friday, and the group’s CEO says this year could be a record-breaker.
“It should be pretty close,” said Tim Heney. “I know the Welland Canal opened — it was a tie for the record this year on [March] 20th.”
“I think we’ll be pretty close to a record as well,” he added.
In some years, two or more ships race to be the first into the Thunder Bay port, but Heney said there’s not likely to be the same drama this year. That’s because the laker projected to be first wintered over west of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, he said.
Heney said that in itself is unusual.
While port officials await the first lake freighter, the timing of the arrival of the season’s first salty is less certain, Heney said. He added that the earlier-than-usual opening of the Great Lakes this year will mean a busy start with 10 ships expected in port before the end of March.
A good start to the season is nice to see, Heney said, but it doesn’t forecast the rest of the year.