Saturday, March 15, 2014


For me spring is signaled by a series of events.  Canoecopia, in Madison WI.  This is the largest Paddlesport show in North America, sponsored by Rutabaga Paddlesports of Madison.  The Gaelic Storm concert at the Myer Theater in Green Bay (, and then Ice Breaking, which signals the start of the shipping season on the upper Great Lakes.

Canoecopia…there is never enough time to listen to the entire speaker series as well as going to the store.  I did run into several friends, Tim Pflieger who owns the DoorCountyAdventureCenter and Terrie Cooper who is the Land Program Director for the Door County Land Trust.  They gave a presentation about kayaking here in Door County.  I stopped by the OutwardBound booth to just say hi and shared my experience about going to Colorado OB in 1976 and how what I learned then, has been part of my life since…almost 40 years…really that long?…wowzaa! 

I walked over to the WoodenCanoeHeritageAssociation exhibit and admired the skill of a woodworker as he smoothed a paddle made from sassafras.  He was using a nice looking spoke shave with adjustment screws to fine tune the blade while holding it firmly…nice.. As I gave it a try it he told me he had found it in the Lee Valley Tools catalog.  It was a VERITAS® Flat Spokeshave-A2.  A pretty sweet tool.

Tuesday night I fell asleep to the humming of the diesel electric engine of the Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay, and the thumping prop wash of the Tug Jimmy L, as they broke ice, softening a path so the first ship could leave town.  

During lunch Wed, I could see the CG cutter, Mobile Bay, the CG Ice-Breaker Mackinaw with several Selvik tugs heading out into Green Bay.   
They were opening a path in preparation for the first ship of the winter fleet to leave town.

 Mobile Bay
Joseph L Block
By Wed afternoon the Joseph L Block was ready to go and outwardbound into the ICE. Probably heading up Green Bay toward Escanaba, Michigan to pick up a load of iron ore.
So after work, I ran over to Pottawatomie State Park. The shipping channel runs near shore there and I could get up close to the ships as they banged their way out through the ice.   
 Tug Jimmy L with Ice Shanty

 CG Cutter Mobile Bay

The Block was being lead by the Mobile Bay and the tug Jimmy L, 
who seems to always be in on the action. 

Watch Them Working the ICE

Tug Mary Page Hannah
 The Tugs Mary Page, Jimmy L and the J L Block
The tug Mary Page Hannah, Jimmy L, another unknown ship in the distance miles away in Green Bay. 
We have had a long cold winter with 55 days below zero and solid ice since Dec.  Today, March 12, it was still only 10 above. In many places the ice is well over 3 feet thick.  These boats will have a long, slow, slog breaking ice as they head north.
Now I wait for above freezing temps so my boat can break out!
 ...and the time.