Welland Canal: Part 1




Welland Canal: Part 1

Few of us are fortunate enough to work at a job that has great respect, history, and charm. A job that demands advanced skills, takes years to learn, and master, and is performed using equipment that is state-of-the-art.  This is the story of just such a job performed by Great Lakes captain and pilot: Captain Joseph Nimako, ship pilot, on the Welland Canal.

The Great Lakes consisting of Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario, and located in the northeast of the USA, forms part of the border with Canada, and is made up of the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth.  Ships enter the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway, and travel with cargo to the farthest western port of Duluth, Minnesota.

In addition to the ocean going ships, there is an entire industry made up of freshwater ships that haul freight within the Great Lakes. These ships serve the many ports on the Great Lakes.  Go to this site for amazing information on Great Lakes shipping:


Products shipped on the Great Lakes include iron ore, coal, coke, salt, stone, wheat, corn, soybeans, barley, oats, flaxseed, fuel oil, petroleum products, chemicals, forest, and animal products.

The Great Lakes are at varying sea levels, and requires ships to pass through locks, which raise and lower the ships to the level of the lake they are entering. Navigating massive ships through the narrow locks requires highly skilled ship maneuvering.  The native freshwater Great Lakes freighters are navigated through the locks by the ship captain.  Passing through the eight locks of the Welland Canal can usually take 11 hours or more.


However, when the visiting ocean freighters pass through the locks, a lock pilot takes over the ship form the captain, and guides the ship through the locks.  Once the ship passes through the locks, the pilot leaves the ship, and the captain resumes control until the next lock system.  This is a story of a captain that guides ships through the Welland Canal; located between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  The canal takes ships parallel to the Niagara River, location of Niagara Falls.

Captain Joseph Nimako, Welland Canal pilot, is a great story, watch it.

Segment Two: 17:23

Becoming a Pilot

Segment Three: 24:34

Polish ocean freighter passing

through locks three and four.

Segment Four: 29:24

First Mate to Pilot

Segment Five: 31:07

First time as Captain of the ship: Part One

Segment Six: 37:39

First time as Captain: Part Two.

Segment Seven: 43:11

First time as Captain: Part Three

Segment Eight: 49:44

As the Captain, “You are IT!”

Segment Nine: 53:05

How the Captain manages the ship

Segment 10: 56:28

The Captain’s quarters

Segment 11: 57:49

“I fell in love with piloting.”

Segment 12: 1:01:06

“A huge responsibility.”

Segment 13: 1:02:55

“It’s about time.”




Segment 14: 1:04:46


Obtaining the job of pilot


About Gerald J. "Jerry" Vogt

Gerald J. “Jerry” Vogt has been a film and video producer, director, 16mm film shooter, videographer, photographer and writer since the 1970’s, completing assignments throughout the USA, specializing in documentary, industrial, training, marketing and safety productions. Vogt’s work has been featured on many TV networks, including PBS, MTV, VH-1, ESPN, College Sports Network, Fox Sports, CBN, ESPN, PPTN and many other broadcast networks.