As for yesterday's (December 30, 2023) Mysteries, thanks to a reader, Mystery #1 has been solved.
The bulk carrier Seahope put into Halifax for bunkers. Hardly surprising as the ship had sailed from Brazil to Port Alfred / LaBaie with a cargo of bauxite for RioTinto Alcan. I did not see the ship taking bunkers - which must be brought to the ship by truck - so was puzzled by why it arrived here.
The ship apparently sailed from Port Alfred for orders, and since they did not know where they might be headed next, taking bunkers was a good plan, and Halifax was the nearest port to do that.
While in Halifax they received orders to proceed to New Orleans to load a cargo of soybeans for the Dominican Republic. The latter nation is a major importer and a significant exporter of soybeans. The careful cleaning of the hold would thus be important to avoid polluting a food grade product.
I don't usually mention the flag state of ships. So many ships fly flags of convenience, where the country of registration is unrelated to the nationality of the beneficial owner, that flag is largely irrelevant to ship watchers. The Seahope for instance is beneficially owned, and managed from Greece (the N on the funnel is for Navarone SA of Athens) but is registered in the Marshall Islands, where the port of registry is Majuro. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has become the third largest flag of convenience for shipping after Panama and Liberia.
Reasons for selecting a flag of convenience are many, but the flag states have their own regulations such as vessel ownership rules, tax structures, labour regulations and vessel standards that make registering a ship in one the many states that cater to such use more convenient and financially beneficial to the owners and managers. It is a big topic and controversial - particulary in labour circles - and much too large a subject for a paragraph here and there.
As to why some Canadian ships flag out to foreign countries for the winter, it is generally agreed that the ability to hire foreign cews, at significantly lower wages than Canadian unionized crews, is the main reason. With those international crew rates the Canadian owned ships can thus compete for work with other foreign ships. The alternative of laying up ships for six or more months of the year is a costly one and with no income coming in, gives little incentive to be a ship owner at all.