Drive along the St. Clair and watch the boats
"Drive to Marine City on MI 29"
It's 27 miles from Port Huron to Marine City, following the St. Clair River the entire length. As you drive, you'll pass industrial plants, open fields, and homes along the river. At times, you'll be right up to the river and then the river will go missing behind the trees and homes. Don't let this bother you, enjoy the drive and plan on stopping in Marine City.
"Upclose and Personal on the St. Clair"
For most of us, the St. Clair River is a wide river, but when you put these large boats going up and down, suddenly it becomes close quarters. The swimmers in Marine City, need to stay within the bollards. While the bulk freighters can't get too close to shore, they may push smaller boats into the shore areas.
"Directions on the Lakes"
Downbound is when a ship is heading 'down lake', towards Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, New York, or the St. Lawrence Seaway and the ocean.
Upbound is when the ship is going towards Lakes Superior or a port upstream.
Of course, a ship headed for Chicago from the Seaway is 'upbound'. Going to Chicago from the Mesabi Range of Minnesota on Lake Superior is 'downbound'. It can be confusing.
When a bulk frieghter is running full, it pulls (or sinks) nearly 20-22 feet into the water. The easiest way to tell is to check out the bow (front) anchors. If they're high above the water, the ship is running empty. If they're nearly awash, she's running full. Anywhere in between is a partial load.
'Self-unloaders' are those freighters that have equipment on them to unload their cargo. For a bulk freighter that his the huge gantry rigged just behind the Pilot house (or in front when the pilot is at the stern as in the 1000 footers). The cargo holds are designed with spickets along the bottom that feed a conveyor belt empting the cargo quickly at any port. Those ships that aren't self-unloaders need to have special derricks in port to unload their cargo.