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Ajace / The Marine Grocery
Debbie-Cin / Grampas’s Dream

Canadian List of Shipping 1956: Ajace [C.179584] registered at Fort William. Built at Owen Sound in 1941. 41’ 2 x 12’ 2 x 3’ 6; 12 g.t.; 10 n.t.; 34 hp. Owned by Alexander R. McKee, Fort William. GAO Notes: Later b] The Marine Grocery and c] Debbie-Cin and out of registry as d] Grampas’s Dream. RBF Notes: Listed as for sale in 2002 at Parry Sound, ON.


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GAO notes: This is one of the 'ville' tugs that hasn't been pinpointed to a ville name. Debbie Cin photo by Gene Onchulenko in 1968 at Thunder Bay (the other vessels in the pic are the ferry Agoming and the CSL freighter Thunder Bay).

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Debbie Cin Incident 1987
Rick Stout supplied this clipping and commentary (April 4, 2017):

Now Steve Briggs, You'll remember this in Owen Sound Bay 30 yrs ago this year. However, leave it to the media to screw up the news as the news clipping below is all screwed up as to what happened. I had a big part in this however I was never interviewed by the Owen Sound Sun Times as to what happened.

In 1986-87-88 a three year contract was awarded to Margro Barging of Parry Sound area to barge timber that was being logged off of Hay Island in Georgian Bay. As Owen Sound was the closest major point the tug Debbie Cin would haul the barge Margro II loaded with logs from Hay Island into Owen Sound harbour and off load them. This worked well for the first year, however a ruling had been put in place that the Debbie Cin must tow the barge opposed to pushing it as the pilot house on the Debbie Cin wasn't high enough to see over the load of logs. One mile out they were allowed to break apart and push the barge the rest of the way into port for more control.

In the summer of 1987, Debbie Cin's Captain Brian Young, decided since it was calm he would push the barge the whole 28 mile trip with his crew on top of the logs communicating to him as to which direction to turn or if any traffic crossed in front of them. This was against ruling, however it worked until they discovered just off Squaw Pt in Owen Sound bay that the 80 X 25 ft Margro II barge was taking on water.

The free board was only about 6 inches when the barge was loaded so there was a major concern of the oak logs floating off and becoming a hazard to navigation. Young ran the Margro II aground in the shallow water behind Squaw Point buoy, however the bow of the barge already under water had grounded while the stern of the barge was still in deep water. Young sent his crew member ashore in a small tender to pick up pumps while Young stayed aboard and put in a distress call to Wiarton Coast Guard Radio at the time. Young's crew did return to the vessel with three gasoline pumps which were put inside the Margro's hull which had about four feet of water in the forward section.

By this time their biggest fears were upon them as some of the logs started floating off the barge. Young sent his crew back to town for any vessel that could help contain the floating logs. Wiarton Coast Guard radio put out a request for anyone in the area who could assist. As any mariner knows when a call for help comes in you must try to assist if you can.

 
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I heard the call on my own boat at the Georgian Yacht Club and grabbed a friend of mine off the dock to go. As I got on site I found Captain Young on the vessel by himself. He started hailing me long before I got there as he didn't know I was heading for the scene anyway. Shortly after, Hank Buitendyk who owned the floating restaurant Clarenville as well as schooner Caroline Rose in Owen Sound harbour arrived with his landing barge Remy Explorer, however Young's crew never did return to the scene.

Hank immediately went to work collecting the logs. The Margro began to come afloat again just about the time the gasoline pumps started running out of fuel. Young said to me that he needed to go below to add gas to the pumps but when I looked down the companion way into the hull the air was blue with exhaust fumes from the pumps. I advised Young that he couldn't go into the hull with the fumes or he may pass out from carbon monoxide poisoning. However Young did what he had to do so I insisted that he tie a rope to himself so my friend and I could get to him. Young made his way down into the hull and forward to the pumps however within seconds he staggered and went face first into the bilge water.

My friend George and I both held our breath and followed the rope to drag Young back to the steep companion way leading to the deck of the Margro. It took all George and I could do to drag Young's dead weight up the narrow companion way. As the Debbie Cin was the closest vessel lashed across the stern of the Margro and my own boat rafted along side the Debbie Cin, I told my friend George to drop a ready bow anchor off my own boat and monitor the barge while I took the Debbie Cin with Young aboard into the harbour.

I called Wiarton Coast Guard Radio to advise them to have an ambulance waiting at the dock when I arrived as well as having the Owen Sound fire department waiting to go back to the barge with respirators to get the pumps restarted. When I arrived in the harbour the paramedics and Owen Sound police were waiting. They took over while fire captain Moe Elder and another fire fighter boarded with me on the Debbie Cin. When we arrived back on scene George was still waiting but the Margro was sinking farther into the water. More vessels arrived on scene as well and on a return trip from off loading the Remy Explorer, Buitendyk had Gord Martin owner of the barge company aboard.

Knowing there was a limited amount of places for the Margro II to take on water Martin put a wet suit and tanks on to go down and find the forward hatch partly open. As Young and his crew were pushing the barge, no one noticed water lapping over the low free board and into the barges' hull through the open hatch.

After securing the hatch from under water, the pumps started making headway and with in a few hours the Margro II was back afloat. With only a couple dozen logs escaping off the deck, the remainder of the load was towed with the Debbie Cin into the harbour. I remember being interviewed several times by Transport Canada but never had to appear in court.

Brian Young recovered and was released from hospital the next day, His crew disappeared but was found later. As for Margro Barging, they were fined several charges including pushing the barge when it was suppose to be towed in which they would have noticed the open hatch as well as a non certified captain and crew.

The following year an extended bridge was added to the Debbie Cin to see over the cargo along with a certified captain and crew. The combination finished off the contract however Margro was back in the news a few years later when the tug Debbie Cin sank at Hope Island. She was raised with heavy damage and Martin then lengthened and widened her converting her into the yacht Grandpa's Dream.

 

GAO notes: Parry Sound, Ont., Feb. 5th, 2002.

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RBF notes: Ex Debbie Cin, for sale (Parry Sound, ON April 3, 2004)

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Grampa’s Dream. Started out as the Debbie Cin, sank off Hope Isld while towing a barge. Was recovered and renamed, her hull was completely redone making her longer and wider. Owned by Gord Martin of Margro construction.
tugfest.net: the tugs.

 

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Winter 2007
  Bob Corrigan says (July 13, 2008): Meet the E. J. GROVES, (Ex Grandpa's Dream) I took the Summer photo of her at Harrison's Marina in Port Carling. Capt Craig and crew have done a great job putting the Groves Marine colours on her.  ENLARGE
Summer 2008

 

Rick Stout comments (Apr. 3, 2017): EJ Groves (ex Grampa's Dream) being lifted out a couple years ago at Wye Heritage Marina. Debbie Cin's cabin was put onto Compass Rose VI by Kei Stewe of Harbour West Marina in Penetang, before he sold her to Peter Everett, who took it off again and made his own larger cabin. That original cabin is now a chicken house somewhere in Kepple township, and Compass Rose VI has been sold to Keyhoe Marine in Lansdowne, Ontario. The tug Debbie Cin sank off Hope Island in Georgian Bay in the early 90's and after she was salvaged with very heavy damage she was rebuilt to the yacht Grandpa's Dream. She was then sold to Groves Contracting in the Parry Sound area where she still works today as the EJ Groves. Last summer she took a contract to pull the car barge back and forth from mainland Cedar Point to Christian Island native reserve as the islands own ferry was deemed unsafe by Transport Canada and a replacement vessel needed to be found.
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For more Russel exhibits visit Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum 1165 1st Ave West, Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K8
(519) 371-3333     http://marinerail.com