Living in a port city, we see many large ships coming in from or leaving to the eastern Great Lakes or sometimes the Atlantic Ocean.  There comes a time in January when the shipping season closes for the season.  Too much ice on the Great Lakes prohibits the safe passage of vessels.  Now that it is March, the shipping season is about to reopen.  The Coast Guard Cutter Alder was out on Wednesday cutting through the ice in preparation of the upcoming shipping season.

From the Coast Guard’s website:

ALDER is a 225′  multi-mission buoy tender located in Duluth, Minnesota. ALDER’s primary missions are aids to navigation (AtoN), ice breaking, law enforcement (LE), and search and rescue (SAR). ALDER operates in CG District 9, which covers all of the Great Lakes.


After several weeks without any traffic in the harbor, it was fun to see the Alder breaking through the thick ice.

I spotted another vessel yesterday when I left work –  the tugboat Nels J.

In 2009, the Nels J. was purchased by Mike Ojard, the owner, along with his two sons, Pat and Vince, of Heritage Marine of Knife River. They brought her to Duluth in October, of that year. Built as the Ares in 1958, she is a 103-foot, 1,950-horsepower boat with a 16-cylinder diesel engine that once supplied oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Less than two weeks ago, Lake Superior was covered in ice near Duluth.  You can see the photos here.  Now the ice has broken up leaving behind open water.

Breaking Up

Spring is near!

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