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The 2014 Shipping season started on Lake Superior last Saturday. Early in the morning two Heritage Marine Tugs, the Helen H and Nels J, Helped free the Cason J. Callaway from the ice so it could exit Duluth Harbor.

Later in the morning we drove over to Port Terminal 1 in Duluth where the Presque Isle spent the winter in layup. The Helen H was breaking ice around the Presque Isle so it leave the harbor to load taconite in Two Harbors.Helen-H-and-Presque-Isle-14-3-_1829

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The ship’s crew was busy working to get ready for the first voyage of the year. Here they are working on the life boats.Presque-Isle-14-3-_1810

After watching the Helen H work for a while we decided to drive down to Canal Park and see if there were any ducks under the Lift Bridge. As we drove up my wife noticed that the Lift Bridge was up. The Coast Guard Cutter Alder was heading out into Lake Superior. I was so busy watching the Helen H I failed to notice the Alder leave port. We were too late to see it go under the bridge but I managed a shot as it hit the ice just outside the harbor. The Ship Canal was free of ice and it was clear for about a hundred yards out into the lake. There was thick ice out into the lake beyond Brighton Beach.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-14-3-_1825

The Alder made several passes clearing the way for the ships that were schedule to sail to Two Harbors. This is a shot of the Alder as it returned from its first trip.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-14-3-_1848

After Lunch I noticed the Cason J. Callaway was getting ready to depart for Two Harbors. We drove down to Canal Park only to find that it was already out into the lake. Apparently my Marine Traffic App was not working correctly. In fact, I had problems with it the rest of the day. You can see the Alder out in the lake in the background between the anchor and the North Breakwater Light. The Cason J. Callaway was the first ship to leave port for the 2014 season.Cason-J.-Callaway-14-3-_1852

We then decided to drive up to Brighton Beach and watch the Callaway make its way through the ice. It was a surreal scene at Brighton Beach with about a hundred fisherman and cross country skiers out on the ice with the Callaway in the background.Cason-J.-Callaway-Brighton-Beach-14-3-_1856

Just as we were about to leave Brighton Beach we noticed that the Helen H was also heading for Two Harbors. We decided to drive up to Two Harbors to watch the Alder and Helen H break ice before the Callaway docked.

When we arrived in Two Harbors there were already cars in the parking lot with more arriving every minute. Apparently we were not the only ones who thought it would be a good idea to watch the ships come in. It was bitterly cold out with the air temperature about fifteen degrees and a thirty five mile per hour wind.

The Alder was the first to arrive. It sailed around the harbor a couple of times breaking up the ice. I found it strange that the Alder didn’t break up the ice next to the loading docks but it didn’t.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-Two-Harbors-14-3-_1884

The Callaway was the next ship to enter the harbor. Just as it entered the harbor the Helen H arrived to break up the ice around the docks. I always thought that tug boats would be used to help the ships into the docks but they are not required. Cason-J

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After the Callaway was docked the Helen H continued breaking ice around the docks.Helen-H-Two-Harbors-14-3-_1919

The Cason J. Callaway, Presque Isle and the John G. Munson are all scheduled to load taconite at Two Harbors this week. When the loading is complete they will form a convoy with several Coast Guard Cutters and head for the Soo Locks. This is the first time since the 70’s that Coast Guard Cutters have been required to escort ships from Duluth to the Soo Locks.

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