Alder and Tregurtha come into Duluth

Late in the afternoon of October 2, 2014, the Coast Guard cutter Alder came in under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. Half an hour later, the Paul R. Tregurtha arrived on her way to Midwest Energy Resources to load coal.

A season like no other

Click on any picture to see a larger version

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katmaibay20140409-080This is what I think, but don’t bet on it. The Presque Isle left here on March 22th with a partial load of pellets and I think loaded pellets at Two Harbors and then tried to get to the other end of Lake Superior but had ice trouble and came back here for repairs, arriving on March 29th still with her pellets. Some of those pellets were off loaded into the American Spirit, which had not yet left Duluth. She offloaded pellets to make repairs easier. The American Spirit left here on April 7th with pellets loaded from the Presque Isle. She went to Two Harbors to load pellets and then came back this morning (above) with both loads of pellets. To wait, I presume.
Back on March 24th the Mackinaw, Katmai Bay and Morro Bay arrived Duluth and left here on March 26th. Two days later, on March 28th, the Alder arrived Duluth with an ice-wounded Morro Bay lashed to her side with the Katmai Bay leading them under the Lift Bridge.
convoy Several days later, the Katmai Bay departed to return to ice breaking duties while the Morro Bay stayed here for repairs to her rudder. That happened early this week and she left but did not go very far away. The Katmai Bay returned to Duluth this morning, April 9th  (above), and the Morro Bay was back at the DECC with the Katmai Bay by late this afternoon.
Meanwhile at the other end of the Lake, late this afternoon, the Canadian ice breaker Pierre Radisson left the Soo leading a convoy of boats trying to get to Duluth (Click on the the map above). The Mackinaw was going to be with the convoy but as I write this, she was still at the Soo.
t1140981646LakeSuperior143250m-ps So here is my guess. When the convoy arrives here, perhaps on Thursday or Friday, we will have 5 ice breakers here, counting the Alder. All of a sudden, we will/may have a bunch of boats here to load cargo and then go back out to the lake, I would guess with the help of some of our flotilla of ice breakers. And presumably the American Spirit came back and is waiting to be a part of that convey. Or Not!
You can find the satellite images here: http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/index.html Just click on MODIS Imagery; Great Lakes MODIS True Color; and then select the lake you want, such as Superior

Ice is not nice to ships

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The US Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay left here a week ago and today (March 28, 2014), she was towed back to port by the Alder after sustaining damage to her rudder while breaking ice. Outside the Duluth piers, they lashed the Morro Bay to the side of the Alder for the trip through the ship canal. The Katmai Bay, also here a week ago, led them in to port. The Presque Isle is also coming back to Duluth to repair damage to her hull caused by the ice.
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LSMMA takes a ride on the Alder

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The LSMMA went ice breaking with the Alder today (March 20, 2014). After clearing ice in Howards Pocket, they came up the harbor and went under the Lift Bridge and out into Lake Superior. As  you can see, they took advantage of the occasion to get some nice shots from on high.
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NBC News comes to Duluth to see ice

samira03122014222The long, cold, snowy, icy winter has attracted a lot of attention this ‘spring.’ We humans may have seen the worst of it but March brings out the next victims, the big ships that start every season in the Great Lakes battling ice. For better or worse, at this time every year, Duluth gets her fair share of attention, sitting as we do, at the western end of the lakes and just south of our border with Canada. It attracted the attention of NBC News, that is, NBC News with Brian Williams. nbcnewsNot long after, Samira Puska, NBC News producer working out of Chicago (above, right), found herself heading up a team to come to Duluth to ‘get the story.’ After days and days of below zero temperatures, she and her team arrived in Duluth on a bright sunny day with the temperature in the 50’s. Photographically speaking, this is not Duluth at her best; big piles of dirty snow, water water everywhere as the high temps started kicking down winter’s leftovers and sending the whole mess into the sewers.Samira and her team talked to some ice fishermen and they then found their way into my office. Of course, the ice fishermen filled them in with most of the story since they sit on a chair on the ice, and drop a line into the water. Water and ice and something to eat; what else did they need.
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The Alder took them out to see the ice on Wednesday morning, March 12, 2014. After a turn or two in front of the Lift Bridge (above), they went down the Superior channel and out into Lake Superior.
I told them anything else they needed to know about ice on Lake Superior, then suggested they go home write the story and send it to my old friend Brian in New York. Brian could introduce the story, move next to the fisherman for a minute or so and then maybe 5 or 10 minutes with me to finish it off. nbcnews03122014212
They had other plans. Turns out they were talking to a lot of other people around town. I talked to them on Tuesday afternoon, March 11, when the temperature was over 50 degrees. Happily for them, it dropped into the single digits when they boarded the Alder for their trip out into the lake the next morning. As you can see here, I went over to welcome Samira and her 3 team members just behind her, when they walked off the Alder.

Alder turns ice into water!

This  video was taken March 10, 2014, and is a little less polished than others but I wanted to get it posted quickly.

Ice? How about blue water!

I took the pictures in the post below this post with my phone on the Alder and then emailed them to Holly in Arizona. She posted them here. Just below are pictures I took aboard the Alder today (Monday, March 10. 2014. (Click a pic for a larger version)
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The Alder performed well making the first trip of the season under the Lift Bridge and into Lake Superior. Only once in the 7.5 mile trip into the lake was she stopped in the ice. Above, the V-shaped mark in the ice is where the bow of the ship was stopped. We are now backing and getting to ram the ice again. Called backing and ramming, after a couple of those, we were back on track.
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Above, we return from the land of sky blue waters to the cold cruel northland. The Alder returns from Lake Superior after finding blue water 7.5 miles out, as far as the eye could see.
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Going home

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Dan Rau took this picture on Wednesday (March 5, 2014), as the Alder was returning from a long day breaking ice. While following the path she opened on the way out,  you can notice the ship has moved to the right so she can widen the original  path for the next trip. (click pic to enlarge)

Spring is sprung

Note: The Alder did make it back to the dock early evening. They saw ice between 2 to 5 feet thick, with it getting thicker as they moved down the Superior channel. They should be back at it tomorrow (Wednesday).
Alder gets to work on breaking ice today, March 4, 2014.  She got away from the dock with little trouble, which was very surprising to me and others watching. She slowed down when she got to the middle of the harbor and turned up the harbor toward the Port Terminal. It has, I am told, been very very slow as she is backing and ramming her way down the Superior channel. Video at bottom shows Alder leaving the dock.
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Ice and cold with new and old

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Our current US Coast Guard cutter Alder (above) was out this morning opening up the shipping channels for boats returning to Duluth for the winter.  The Sundew,  our ‘old’, and now retired,  Coast Guard cutter (foreground), was sitting at her dock waiting for summer. And a good thing for those sailors on the Alder. The pilothouse is warm and comforting on the Alder,  while the Sundew had an open pilothouse, not the best place to spend a winter day in the Northland.

Back home again

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On March 11, 2013, the Alder broke away from the ice around her dock and began her task of clearing the shipping channels in the Duluth Superior harbor, as well as breaking ice and working buoys in other parts of the Great Lakes. Today, April 7, 2013, almost a month later, she came back home. She won’t have to break any ice in the port since the ice is pretty well beaten up first by the Alder, Biscayne Bay and Mackinaw and then by a steady stream of Great Lakes freighters that have been kicking the ice around since the Mesabi Miner departed here on March 20th.