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I am proud to be known as "The Ship Watcher."

Editor’s Note:  On May 30, Michael Folsom published this message on his website Ship Watcher Blog.  Michael is a regular contributor to TI Life. He is also one of the region’s greatest promoters.  His main focus is The Ship Watcher, but this month as we go to press, his second Sailing Seaway Clayton weekend will take place from June 14-17 at Frink Park.  This year he is welcoming the tall ship, Fair Jeanne.     Congratulations Michael Folsom… As editor I thank you most sincerely for devoting so much time to sharing your river life with TI Life.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012  [Favorite photographs from the past five years…]

On the evening of May 30, 2008 I was sitting in my family room at home. My wife turned to ask me what I was doing and I replied ''starting a blog." At 8:40 p.m. the first posting went live and The Ship Watcher was created.

The first posting read this "Buckle up... the ride is about to begin!!!"

That ride officially enters its fifth summer season today and it has been an interesting one at that. What originally began as a personal blog to jot down what I saw on the river or what I did while sitting at the Bonnie Castle Yacht Basin, quickly became something more, something different, something I didn't expect.

My passion for ships runs deep. My grandmother had a place in Cape Vincent and as a kid I recall sleeping in the front room of her trailer and hearing the thud of a ship come from behind Carleton Island. I would wake up and kneel on the couch, peeking out the window to see the ship make the turn around the island. Lights would flicker in the distance and they weren't windmills, but instead just the tiny channel markers leading the ship's way to the mouth of the lake.

I was hooked at a young age.

In the spring of 2008, my in-laws purchased a boat and planned to keep it in Alexandria Bay and spend weekends on it. My wife and I, prior to baby, would join them on a regular basis and my blogging expedition kicked into full gear.

At first, the blog was simply shared with family and friends and I quickly learned of outside readers. I was getting emails asking me questions or photos of vessels people wanted identified. My hobby of ship watching began to take a spin.

By that July I celebrated 1,000 site hits. I remember thinking how exciting that was. Now days we are progressing toward 500,000 and with readers from across the globe.

Since that first blog, I have gone on to interview an ESPN Bassmaster millionaire, hit TV series celebrity, various ship captains and crew members, and so much more. I broke news stories relating to the river before major regional media outlets - including the grounding of Algobay in 2010.

The blog has connected me with so many people I only used to read or hear about. I can say I am on the same team (at TI Life) as a great, well-known 1000 Islands photographer and author - Ian Coristine. I have gained the trust of community leaders, river advocates and industry leaders. Through the creation of this site and support from my wife and family, I have gained the courage to take a risk for the community I call my second home and build/create a weekend festival.

Because of all of this... I am proud to be known as "The Ship Watcher."

Thank you everyone!

By Michael Folsom

Michael Folsom is a regular contributor to TI Life. His work has been featured in other various outlets, including Thousand Islands Sun, Know Your Ships, and more. In addition, he is the creator and organizer of Sailing Seaway Clayton and currently serves in the role of Campaign/Public Relations Manager for the Lynx Educational Foundation and tall ship Lynx. 

Sailing seaway
Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Herb Swingle
Comment by: Herb Swingle ( )
Left at: 2:51 PM Friday, June 15, 2012
When my wife was alive being a "ship Watcher"was the best part of her day!I miss her and the 1000 islands!
Debbie Dermady
Comment by: Debbie Dermady
Left at: 9:04 AM Saturday, June 16, 2012
So many teachers in the area know they can count on "The Shipwatcher" to bring "The River" to life for our students! Thanks Mr. Folsom for The Lynx, Skyping, Fair Jeanne and for all you do to make life along the River so inviting!
Comment by: Mike
Left at: 12:30 PM Monday, June 18, 2012
Michael - thanks for your site. I recall ship-watching in the 60's near Calumet Island, and marveled at their size when our boat passed safely near them or they docked at the Clayton coal dock for fuel. Amazing vessels, they are! Keep up the good work!

Brian johnson
Comment by: Brian johnson ( )
Left at: 8:14 AM Thursday, July 5, 2012
It's a fascinating hobby which offers it's own reward with every passing ship!
I only wish I had the foresight to 'mark down' the various ships that used to pass through the area. Keep up your terrific work. Your articles are fantastic!

Brian Johnson