Mackinaw Clears the Way for Shipping
Posted at: 03/17/2013 5:00 PM
| Updated at: 03/17/2013 10:31 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
The official start to spring is just days away, but Sunday on Lake Superior there was another sign warmer weather is near. The U.S. Coast Guard's biggest icebreaker, the Mackinaw, was in the Duluth-Superior Harbor paving a way for shippers.
"We had a lot of snow over the weekend and the temperatures got cold last night, so we've freshened the tracks," Captain Mike Davanzo said.
The Alder, based in Duluth, started cutting ice last week, but with so much ice, crews with the Mackinaw decided to help out.
"We had ice that extended six miles out and it was 20 inches thick," Davanzo said.
The Mackinaw's home port is in Michigan. It's the biggest icebreaker on the Great Lakes spanning 240 feet. It holds about 60 crew members.
One of them aboard Sunday was William Allen. Allen said cutters usually mean the start of shipping season, but they also signify the beginning of spring.
Weather Sunday didn't exactly measure up.
"Well, it's pretty cold," Allen said. "It was six (degrees) or something this morning when we got up."
Allen said this winter the Duluth-Superior Harbor is one of the ports with the most ice.
"It's probably the thickest I've seen," Allen said. "In the harbor here it's pretty secluded from the wind so it's been making ice all year."
Locks open up on the Great Lakes March 25, but Davanzo said the Northland will start seeing shipping activity as soon as Friday.