Alder breaks ice & sweeps & shovels it too

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All hands on deck aboard the Alder on December 14, 2016, breaking ice on their deck as they moved across Lake Superior. All of this while US Coast Guard Sector Soo began Operation Taconite, their annual push to clear shipping channels of ice so lakers can get another 2 or 3 weeks before the season ends. For now, the Alder was assigned the western end of Lake Superior for their ice breaking operations. That seems logical but in others years, they were breaking ice in Lake Michigan and cutters like the Biscayne Bay came here to break up our ice. All pictures here courtesy of the Alder.
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Alder approaches the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in Houghton, Mich., Dec. 16, 2016.
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Alder breaks a path through the ice in the Keweenaw Waterway near Houghton, Michigan on Dec. 16, 2016.

The good old days

While we wait for the Alder to open up the season, probably on Monday, March 9, here is a video I created during the beginning of the 2007 season.

Winter in Duluth: Is it fun?

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Click to see new video looking back at the winter (spring?) of 2007

More ice breaking videos:
March 9, 2011; watch the Alder break ice in Duluth
January 9, 2008: Alder out breaking ice as last boats come in for layup
January 6, 2008: The ice breaker Biscayne Bay in DuluthNote: the Biscayne Bay will NOT be here to help the Alder break ice on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Alder will be breaking ice in the harbor and perhaps out in the Lake on Monday.

First ice and a breaker!

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That is the Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay docked behind the DECC. Coincidently (??), the first ice of the season is just in front of her. I am entertaining captions for the picture. She has been here many times to help us fight the ice. Go to the Biscayne Bay page to see more pictures of her life and times while in Duluth Superior and a video from some years back.

Biscayne Bay crewmembers get a break

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Shortly after the Alder and the tug North Carolina got the Mesabi Miner out of the harbor on Sunday and on the way to Marquette to deliver coal, the Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay arrived after clearing out the ice at Marquette and spending Saturday night in the ice off the Apostle Islands. Yesterday, they broke up the ice near Fraser Shipyards where 4 boats spent the winter and will be coming out soon. After returning to their spot behind the DECC, Chief Engineer John Ellis decided to take his entire engineering department out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some pizza, leaving the boat, just behind them, in the capable hands of Captain Cary Godwin and 9 other crew members. The engineering department, left to right, are Branden Underwood, Ellis, James Taylor, David Massey, Chris Timm and Ricardo Villalba. Photo taken on March 17, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-18-2008

Ice breaker Biscayne Bay in Duluth

The US Coast Guard ice breaker Biscayne Bay was in Duluth in December to break ice in the Duluth Superior harbor. The Duluth Shipping News went along.

Biscayne Bay cuts a path

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The Biscayne Bay‘s extended stay in Duluth was cut short when they were asked to go to Thunder Bay to break up their ice. The 140 foot Coast Guard cutter departed the port on Wednesday afternoon. Before departing, it refreshed the tracks made through the ice in the main shipping channels in the port. The tracks they opened up Wednesday meet under the Blatnik Bridge. One goes up the St. Louis River past Midwest Energy Resources and the CN dock. One goes down the Superior channel to the BN dock. And one moves up the inner harbor to the Lift Bridge. In the picture above, the ship is going down the Superior channel toward the Superior entry. You are looking back through a window on the bridge of the ship at the track the ship has just opened. The tracks often freeze over if there has not been a ship going through it for some time and/or it is very cold. The tracks through the ice in the main shipping channels can easily be seen from Skyline Drive. Photo taken on December 12, 2007
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 12-13-2007

Biscayne Bay crew does the icebreaking

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LT Cary Godwin brought his Coast Guard ice breaker Biscayne Bay into port on Friday evening. About 10 tons of ice, encrusted on just about every exterior surface of the ship, came along for the ride. Most of the ice accumulated on the trip here from Isle Royale where they ran into 8 to 10 foot seas. The design of the ship, allowing them to move under an ice flow and break it up from below also makes it easier to collect spray which in 10 below weather quickly becomes ice. The crew of 17 spent most of Saturday chipping away at the ice with rubber mallets. In the picture above, you see, from top down, SN Jason Manard from Bedford, Michigan, SN Matthew Jobson from Alexandria Bay, New York, BM3 Michael Desormeaux from Augusta, Georgia and SN Timothy Fonger from Grand Rapids, Michigan shoveling the ice off the deck after they had deftly applied their mallets to the target. Presuming most of the ice is off the ship, they will be out in the harbor today to check on ice conditions. They will likely be here at least a week, making sure the shipping channels are open for our boat traffic throughout the harbor. Yesterday and today they were at the dock normally taken up by ‘our’ cutter Alder. The Alder is tending to buoys in the St. Mary’s River and on Lake Michigan while the Biscayne Bay attends to our ice. Photo taken on December 08, 2007
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 12-09-2007

Biscayne Bay is Coast Guard ice breaker

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The US Coast Guard ice breaker Biscayne Bay is on the way to the Twin Ports. After making a stop at Marquette, it dropped anchor off the Keweenaw last night, hoping to depart this morning for Duluth, depending upon the weather. Above, it is seen arriving in Duluth March 14th of this year. Nothing is for sure when trying to predict the arrivals and departure of shipping traffic. The Federal Asahi finally departed last night, allowing the Beluga Energy to move into the AGP terminal to load grain. The predicted arrival of the Edward L. Ryerson will not happen for some time. It has found more work that should keep it going until January. It is still scheduled to spend the winter at Fraser Shipyards in Superior. Photo taken on March 14, 2007
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 12-06-2007

Wide track, narrow track, everywhere a track track

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In the picture above, taken Sunday morning, you can see in the broken ice going out from the bridge, a wide track and a narrow one inside it. On Friday, the cutter Biscayne Bay led the Mesabi Miner out of Duluth. Being second, the Mesabi Miner’s track covered over the cutter’s narrower track. The Mesabi Miner went to Marquette, but the cutter came back to port, creating the track pattern you see above. Last night, the Biscayne Bay was scheduled to depart for Thunder Bay. They broke open the track so I would guess there was a somewhat wider track inside the Mesabi Miner’s broader track laid down on Friday. The Miner returns this morning around 8 am. Presumably before that, you could see the Biscayne Bay Sunday night track created inside the Miner track from Friday. After the Miner comes in, we should only see its very wide track with the cutter track now covered over by the Miner’s wide body. There are no narrow tracks scheduled to interfere before it departs with another cargo of coal later today, this time for Taconite Harbor. Soon, we will be able to see the boats instead of track them. Photo taken on March 18, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-19-2007

Aerial Lift Bridge from CGC Biscayne Bay

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There are many signs of spring. You know it is getting close to spring when your local icebreaker (this year, the Biscayne Bay) is docked at the DECC for a couple days of R&R over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend. The picture above was taken from the Coast Guard cutter as it returned to the port after leading the Mesabi Miner out to the lake on Friday morning. A couple hours earlier, the Biscayne Bay had opened up a track all the way to open water (about 5 miles out on Friday) for the Miner to follow. Upon returning, the track was much wider, in fact about as wide as a thousand footer. Late Sunday night, the Miner will be returning to the port. Killing two birds with one stone, the Biscayne Bay will depart the port earlier in the evening on Sunday, breaking open the track again for the Miner and this time continuing on to its next stop in Thunder Bay. Photo taken on March 16, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-18-2007

Biscayne Bay cutting a path

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The US Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay was the first ship to arrive in the Twin Ports from Lake Superior this season. It came in on Wednesday afternoon to break ice in place of the Alder which is down for repairs. It was out breaking ice in the harbor (above) just a couple hours after tying up at the DECC. The 140 foot vessel, built in 1979, was clearing a track in anticipation of the Mesabi Miner departing today. That should happen this morning around 9 am. The Biscayne Bay is expected to go under the Lift Bridge shortly after 8:30 to break up the sheet of ice that has encircled the Duluth ship canal for several weeks. The ice itself is not so bad, but the lake side edge has built up a fairly high wall from the high winds off the Lake. It will then come back in to escort the Mesabi Miner out of the port and on its way to Marquette where it will discharge a load of coal. Photo taken March 14, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-16-2007