A season like no other

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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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Mackinaw and 2 friends

Three Coast Guard cutters arrive Duluth on March 25, 2014 (from my window)

Coast Guard cutters coming to Duluth

We are expecting 3 Coast Guard cutters to arrive here late this afternoon or early evening. The Mackinaw, the Katmai Bay and the Morro Bay will be here to get fuel and provisions before leading a convoy of 3 boats from Two Harbors  to the Soo Locks. (Unless plans change which is always possible when dealing with wind, ice and Lake Superior. (Click to see larger version of AIS taken at 4:40 pm, Monday, March 24, 2014)
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Calumet here for 2nd time this season

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The Calumet came under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge this afternoon (December 18, 2013) to load iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth. This was her second trip here this season; she has been here 20 times since 1996. Of course, before she was sold in 2008, she came as the David Z. Norton and the David Z. Above, the Bentleyville Christmas ‘tree’ is in the foreground; that is the South Pier Inn hiding behind the bow of the boat. Below, the Calumet passes by the ice breaker Katmai Bay; she was out breaking ice!
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Coast Guard Katmai Bay brings her own ice

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They didn’t have to worry, we have a lot of our own. However, they are very welcome here; we have lots of ice they know what to do with. More info on the Katmai Bay here.
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A sure sign of winter:

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When the Coast Guard starts Operation Taconite, their effort through out the Great Lakes to keep the shipping channels free of ice. The project started today (Monday, December 6, 2010). In an announcement made today, they said:
Initially, only one Coast Guard icebreaker will be assigned to Operation Taconite.  Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, homeported in Sault Sainte Marie, has been ordered to make its way west towards Duluth, Minn., to provide ice breaking services while Coast Guard Cutter Alder is underway working aids to navigation.  Additional Coast Guard ice breakers will join the operation in the coming days and weeks.
The Katmai Bay is a 140 foot Bay-class Icebreaking Tug. In the picture above, the Katmai Bay is seen entering the Duluth Ship Canal on October 21st, 2005.

Click here for more information about the Alder