#SaturdaySalute: Meet Brielle LeFebre

September 22, 2018

We {heart} our freighter fans!

In every kind of weather and at all hours of the day and night, these diehard self-proclaimed boat nerds wave us in and out of ports around the Great Lakes and from the vast and varied shorelines along the way.

If they aren’t close to HOMES (remember that grade-school acronym to remember Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior?), they follow us on marine tracking apps, harbor cams, websites and our social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The love people have for freighters and our Great Lakes is a special thing and one we hope to foster. With that in mind, we think it’s high time to highlight our diverse fans and followers in a new regular feature called #SaturdaySalute.

If you want to be featured, please message us a little about you and your love of freighters and the Great Lakes. We’re looking forward to getting to know you. But before you do that, you should get to know Brielle LeFebre, 9, from Byron Center, Michigan, and our first #SaturdaySalute!

What do you like best about freighters?

I like to see how huge they are, and I LOVE their loud horns.

What’s your favorite ship and why?

James R. Barker - I love its super cool horn. 


What would you must love to do on the JRB?

I’d love to blow its horn for a master salute, and play basketball on the front of the ship, unless the ball went over the edge.”

If you could meet anyone on the ship who would it be and why?

The captain. Because I’d love to learn about his job. Like, how hard it is to steer at night, or through the ice, or in a big snow storm when you can’t see?

What would you ask that person if you could?

How are you able to see at night? It’s so dark! Is it hard it fit into the locks? 

If you could sail anywhere on the Great Lakes where would you go and why?

From Chicago, IL to Duluth, MN. That way we can go under the Mackinaw Bridge, then through the Soo Locks, then under the International Bridge, and all the way across Lake Superior. I’d love to be onboard a ship while it’s unloading. That would be SO fun! 

When is the best time to see ships?

It’s cool to see the ships in the winter with a lot of ice on it, but my favorite is seeing them at Engineer’s Day in Sault Ste Marie. I love being right up close to them. I also love seeing them at night with all their lights on. 


We asked Brielle’s dad, Tim LeFebre, who helped facilitate the Q&A, about how his family got started freighter watching. “While camping in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, we were out on a boat and the Paul R. Tregurtha and Mesabi Miner sailed by. We were amazed by the size of these mighty vessels,” he says. “After that we started looking for ports near our house to check out the ships.” 

His family’s favorite place to see ships is in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. “There are always ships to see whether it be during the day or at night,” he says. “The best is at Engineer’s Day. It’s so much fun to be able to walk across the Locks, and see the ships up close.”

He and his wife Elizabeth say their favorite thing about seeing the ships is watching how Brielle and son Landon, 5, react. “They try so hard to get the captains’ attention in the hopes they can get a salute,” he says. “When they do get a salute, who jumps the highest? Then listening to them talk and laugh about the ship on our way home.”