2003, another spring to remember

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March 20, 2003: the Mackinaw (below) arrives Duluth.
March 24, 2003: the Edgar B. Speer (below), Edwin H. Gott, and Roger Blough depart Duluth
March 29, 2003: The Frontenac is our first arrival of the year.
April 1, 2003: The Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. (not pictured) departed Duluth, the last commercial traffic until she did it again on April 21
April 3, 2003: The Indiana Harbor tried 9 times to get through ship canal (above) but could not. She left her mark on the ice however (below)
April 5, 2003:
The task for the day was to help the Arthur M. Anderson and the Indiana Harbor depart using either the Duluth or Superior entry. We started the day, on the Sundew, breaking ice around the Arthur M. Anderson (below, center) in the Duluth harbor. 230405-2--004Captain Michael Gapczynski was trying to take his boat through the ice and out the Duluth entry. After making about four ice-breaking circles around the boat, word came to the Sundew from the Canadian ice breaker Samuel Risley that the ice beyond the Duluth piers would not budge. The Anderson returned to her dock.We headed straight for the Superior entry where we would join the Risley, now out beyond the ice jam and heading for the Superior piers. We would use the same plan for the day but at the Superior entry instead.
230405-2--099The Sundew made slow but steady progress through the piers. Just beyond the piers, she was stopped in the ice. I thought we were stuck in the ice, but I quickly found out the word to use was stopped. Of course, it’s a good time to get stuck, I mean stopped, in the ice. A larger ice breaker was waiting to help out just beyond the ice we were stopped in. As a 230405-2--181matter of fact, I suspect that one ice breaker enjoys coming to the aid of another ice breaker stopped in the ice.We were quickly freed and with two ice breakers now in the Superior channel, Sundew Captain Beverly Havlik (center) was happy with the condition of the ice. She decided to offer the captains of the Arthur M. 230405-2--096Anderson and the still waiting to depart Indiana Harbor a chance to take a look for themselves. She called them and they accepted her invitation to board the Sundew and go for a preview ride out to the Superior entry. We turned around and proceeded to the Port Terminal where we picked up our two new passengers.
230405-2--134It was a nice ride out to the Superior entry. Both Captains shared some really good sea stories. Every Captain on the Great Lakes I am sure has many stories to tell of bad times dealing with ice in the Great Lakes.T230405-2--146he story today was about to reach its conclusion. Both Gapczynski and Bill Millar, captain on the Indiana Harbor, decided they should go ahead. We took them back to their boats and returned to the channel to wait for them.
The Anderson, though smaller, went first since her bow was angled. That gave her a better chance to move through the ice field. And, by now, I suspect the Indiana Harbor was not too interested in blazing new trails.
Both boats made it out just fine, with the Sundew sitting off to the side, ready to help, but not needed this time. It was early evening, and at least for me, time to go home
Wednesday evening, April 9, 2003. The Sundew is still breaking ice in front of the Duluth ship canal while the rest of us enjoy spring. Below, you can still see the ridge made by the Indiana Harbor during her futile attempts to escape Duluth last week.The crew of the Sundew parked in the ice and spent Wednesday night on the boat. They were back breaking ice at 6 am Thursday morning. Some of the ice boulders they are breaking off are up to 15 feet high. Like ice bergs, only 1/3 of it is above water. Sometimes a boulder (the size of a small bus) breaks away from a heavier sheet and it pops up quite quickly and dramatically, reaching its own new position of 1/3 above and 2/3rds below water level. The Sundew returned to her dock around 6:30 pm. She will be out again, Friday morning. Below:  The McCarthy finally departed Duluth on April 21st; she was the last traffic to move through the Duluth ship canal since she left on April 1, 20 days earlier, before the East wind attacked us.


  1. On the webcam, you can see the freighters coming out of the fog at Duluth.

  2. This has been an interesting couple of days. Yesterday, I saw the fleet of Baie Comeau, Maple Glen, Federal Nakagawa, Tadoussac, Whitefish Bay, Baie St Paul, and Thunder Bay heading west. They left on the 28th but began moving very slowly about 9:30pm, movingly only about 1 knot. I didn’t see an escort ship with them. Mackinaw was in Thunder Bay and Radisson had come into port at Sault Sainte Marie. Alder had delivered her four ships to Whitefish Bay as well. As had been mentioned, Indiana Harbor, Burns Harbor, and American Century were at the top of the Keweenaw peninsula.

    However, at some point, Samuel Risley joined the westbound fleet. I know she was breaking ice for them at 5pm eastern time yesterday northeast of the peninsula. They finally got through the ice around 2am this morning. Ken Boothe apparently went down to Marquette without an escort. She left Marquette about 5:20pm yesterday and made it back up about 12:50pm today.

    Risley has picked up the ships that were waiting at the top of the Keweenaw peninsula and it looks like Ken Boothe may join them heading east.

    Radisson has picked up a large convoy of nine ships heading west out of Whitefish Bay. These are Algomarine, Algowood, Algoma Transport, Cedar Glen, Federal Rideau, Federal Danube, Federal Satsuki, Leubbert, and Michipicoten. Seven of these ships are heading for Thunder Bay so anyone there should see an impressive arrival. With Alder gone, it looks like Mackinaw is escorting ships down the coast to Duluth.

    With Risley gone, Katmai Bay has had to come above the locks to break ice. And, Alder is apparently breaking ice below the locks. Hollyhock has also come up into the lower St Marys River.

    It looks like the western channel is now open. The CG buoy tender, Buckthorn, is there along with the Army Corps of Engineers tug, Owen Fredrick, and the barge, Nicolet. I see Alder heading down the western channel right now and Robert Pierson and Ojibway following behind.

  3. Tom Crowley says:

    Sping of 2003 had the web cam on my computer at work grading papers
    This year most of the students work is already graded, but still have the web cam up
    Good work Ken, hope to see ya this July

  4. Sorry wrong ship. Was thinking Great Republic. Assiniboine looks nice above the ice line though.

  5. So much for Assiniboine’s beautiful new paint job. Yikes. Depressing!

  6. Appears Burns Harbor, Indiana Harbor, and American Century are stuck in ice off Keweenaw Peninsula. They’ve been there three days.

  7. Superior: Oberstar, Thunder Bay, Whitefish Bay, Baie St. Paul
    Duluth: Callaway, Tadoussac, Baie Comeau

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