When a Miami-based cruise ship company brings passenger cruises back to Lake Superior next summer, Frederick Stonehouse will be aboard at least one of the voyages.
The acclaimed Great Lakes author-historian will share his deep knowledge of the lakes as he sails on the Victory II on its way from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay.
"One company is taking over the entire boat," he said. "It will have a very large educational component."
For others who want to hear Stonehouse address shipwrecks and access his vast expertise, there is also the annual Gales of November conference, taking place Friday and Saturday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Stonehouse is Saturday's noon luncheon keynote speaker, addressing the French naval minesweepers Inkerman and Cerisoles which vanished without a trace on Lake Superior in November 1918, taking with them all 78 sailors aboard the vessels.
Gales of November is the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association's annual maritime conference and fundraiser. Celebrating its 30th year, Gales began in 1988 among a band of scuba divers getting together to talk about the wrecks they'd seen throughout the year.
It's become an event which draws about 300 participants and a dozen expert speakers across two days of conferencing about lore, science, legend and history - including this year, at 11 a.m. Saturday, tapping Duluth's own resident historian Tony Dierckins to discuss Duluth's precursor to its iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, the Aerial Transfer Bridge.
Gales features free and open-to-the-public tours of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. And for convention-goers there's an annual drawing to cruise aboard a lake freighter, keynote luncheons each day and a pair of evening receptions for networking and commiseration with other souls who feature freshwater in their veins. The events are priced à la carte style to help raise money to support what is a free museum in Canal Park.
"Gales is a unique event," said association Executive Director Tammy Sundbom Otterson. "The attendees are passionate about maritime history and preservation. Each fall Gales is one of the best maritime gatherings of friends and colleagues."
This year, Gales also will address the business of the lakes. It's been a busy rebound season for the binational Great Lakes shipping industry - with lots of taconite iron ore downbound on the lakes and an increasing array of cargoes going back and forth. Commercial leaders believe it can add up to even more success. James Weakley, president of the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association, and Bruce Burrows will jointly address the topic Friday.
Burrows is the new-this-year president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce based in Ottawa, which represents the commercial marine industry from the U.S. and Canada through the St. Lawrence Seaway. A 35-year transportation and logistics veteran with government and lobbying experience, he will be making his first trip to Duluth. He's speaking at Friday's noon luncheon as co-keynote speaker, addressing ongoing efforts to drum up increased usage of the lakes.
"We're at about 50 percent capacity," he told the News Tribune. "As a system, we're an opportunity in the name of the environment and in the name of economic facilitation. With congested roadways, we have quite a bit of capacity available to use."
In addition to speaking, he'll be touring the port with Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Vanta Coda. Burrows said he is keen to see in action the new rail arrangement between Canadian National Railway and Duluth Cargo Connect at the Clure Public Marine Terminal. Busier than originally projected, the rail service turns around container cargoes in five to seven days from coastal ports and the Gulf of Mexico through Duluth to the interior of North America. Burrows described it as something "that may be a bit of a model for more things to come around the Great Lakes."
"I'll be putting my hard hat on and getting a tour around the port of Duluth-Superior," Burrows said. "It's a pretty dynamic part of the whole Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. It's a major port with a tremendous future. I want to get a sense of the new investments."
Gales of November
30th annual benefit to support the Lake Superior Maritime Museum and Visitor Center
• Friday and Saturday at the DECC
• Register online at lsmma.com/lsmma/gales-of-november-registration.php
• Friday lunch and keynote address on the business of the Great Lakes, $25 per person
• Friday evening gala and dinner, $35 per person
• Saturday conference, lunch and keynote address from historian Frederick Stonehouse on French minesweepers lost on Lake Superior, $45 per person
• Saturday lunch- and keynote-only, $20 per person
• For more information, call (218) 727-2497