Ship Spotter Spotlight: Paul from Canada

in Ship Spotter Profiles, Community by

In 2021, we started to put the spotlight on our passionate ship spotters. Each month, we introduce another ship spotter of In August, you’ll meet ship spotter Paul (User name: Shiphotos), a retired mariner and loyal FleetMon user from Canada.

What is your maritime background?

I’m 72 now and retired this year as a mariner. I live along the Welland Canal between Lakes Erie and Ontario in Canada and in Portland, Maine, USA.

I graduated from the Canadian Coast Guard College in 1972. Later I became Commanding Officer with CCG and also merchant ship captain before retiring. My favourite job was icebreaking, whether in the Arctic , the Great Lakes or the East Coast of Canada. My second favourite job was being a certified ice navigator on both merchant ships and mega-yachts in the Arctic.

When did you start to take photos of vessels?

That was back in 1968 – over 50 years ago!

What is your motivation for being a ship spotter?

There’s something about ships… They don’t have moods and they don’t need coaxing or posing. Besides, my father also worked on ships so it was a natural thing, I guess.
I’m on tour with my camera whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Which technical equipment do you use for vessel photography?

For the last year, I have used a Nikon D-3500 with a Tamron 18-400 mm F/3.5-6.3. I have been faithful to Nikon since my first digital camera in 2002. Before that, I used a Pentax film camera.

Which vessel types do you like to take photos of the most and why?

Anything. I like to be able to see and photograph from a mariner’s perspective. This allows me to explain what the photo shows.

How many pictures of different vessels have you collected since you started?

Thousands. It’s easy with digital!

What are your favorite ship spotting locations?

Welland Canal. There are lots of great photo locations. The canal runs north/south which allows for lovely light. I live on the canal and when standing on the canal bank I’m probably 30 metres from ships as they pass – It’s easy to be close to the ships.

Which worldwide ship spotting location would you like to visit if you had the chance to?

That would be Rotterdam and Hong Kong.

Which is your best shot on Please tell us about the moment when you took it.

Great Lakes ships spend most of their time in fresh water so they survive for many years. This one is just coming out of drydock with tug assist. I have worked on that tug. The ship is nicely painted and ready to resume trading. The colours stand out to me.

Paul’s’ favorite vessel photo of tug VIGILANT 1