By Kyle Lohmeier, Voice Staff Writer
April 21, 2004
© The Blue Water Voice, reprinted by permission

The Charles M. Beeghley was the first ship "Freighter" Frank Frisk began working on in 1996.

"Freighter" Frank Frisk didn't intend to create what would become an award-winning Web site dedicated to shipping on the Great Lakes when he first began his career on the lakes in January 1996,; but an injury he sustained in 2002 forced him off the freighters and onto the sidelines where he turned his love of the lakes into a Web site.

"I started when I went to work for Interlake Steamship Company, based out of Ohio, in January 1996. My first boat was the Charles M. Beeghley, I went to work as a porter and then in June of '96 I moved up to be a second cook on the James R. Barker, which is a 1,000-footer," Frisk said.

"I was sidelined with an injury in 2002...I came home and I've had some medical concerns that have kept me from sailing since then."

Just after beginning his career on the big ships, Frisk got the idea to create a travel log of the various ports he visited on his voyages and report on the restaurants and other amenities there. Shortly thereafter, he met up with recent Baker College graduate Charlie Glaze, who convinced him to turn his idea into a Web site.

With Frisk's experience and Glaze's Web site-building expertise, the two soon had an informative Web site on their hands.

"He's the owner of CJC Grafix in Marysville. He's an extremely talented artist," Frisk said.

Soon, Frisk's site, www.greatlakesphotos.com, began gaining worldwide notoriety, including a Detroit Free Press award as one of the top 40 sites in Michigan in July 2002.

"There is research on there you can't believe. One woman sent me a note from England who said she used to live in the states and she's sorry her husband found the site because she can't get him away from the computer room now," Frisk said.

As the site's name implies, there are thousands of photographs archived on the site as well as links to Web cameras pointed at various busy locks and canals."

"All of them are my photos from the ships when I was on shore leave at different stops on the lakes, some are from my home in Marysville. We did a grain trip on the Alton Hoyt from Superior, Wisconsin, to Buffalo, New York. Another stop is Grand Haven, where the Coast Guard festival is held every year. There's one page that's all live Web cams from all over, including the Panama and Suez canals. There's a link where you can watch boats going through the Soo locks in Sault St. Marie," Frisk said.

While much of the site's content came from Frisk's camera, he attributes the success of the site in large part to its design and graphic elements, for which Glaze gets the credit.

"Everybody gets a copy of Front Page 98 and thinks they're a Web designer. Charlie does all this from his own talent. He punches the numbers in himself. I don't know anything about that. I'm a photographer and a cook," Frisk said.

Frisk added he never dreamed of running an award-winning Web site dedicated to his love of the lakes. Instead, his plan was to retire as a cook for the Interlake Steamship Company.

Despite being sidelined with an injury, Frisk said he still maintains contact with many of the people he met while working on the lakes and once he completes his physical therapy, he intends to take some of them up on an offer to ride along on one of their runs.

"My whole desire on the lakes was to become a permanent second cook and stay out there my whole 15 years and retire. I had no idea the notoriety we'd achieve through this site," Frisk said.

"I really miss being out on the lakes right now, I've gotten a lot of invites from captains and engineers to come on a ride once I'm done with my physical therapy. You better believe it (that I'll accept the offers), partner."

Frisk is also a member of the International Ship Masters Association Lodge 2 out of Port Huron, which he says has been in continuous operation for 116 years as the second oldest lodge of the ISMA.

"The first was in Buffalo, New York," Frisk said.

Visit "Freighter" Frank Frisk at his Web site at www.greatlakesphotos.com.