Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed

The Meredith Ashton Ice Breaking

ShadowedMeredithAshton4There was a lot of noise and lights in the channel last night so we drove down to have a look. It turned out to be the tug, Meredith Ashton out of Milwaukee breaking ice in the channel. Although the freighter, Calumet, was due in Grand Haven’s aggregate docks today we could not find any shipping news for arrivals to Muskegon so we don’t know if she was doing it for the Calumet to stop here too or if she was breaking ice for something else.

Meredith Ashton was built in Amelia, Louisiana in 1981 and has sailed under the names The Rock, Specialist and Alpha. Source: http://maritime-connector.com/ship/meredith-ashton-8951487/. She was breaking ice on Lake Muskegon last spring.  The Winter of ’13-’14 was particularly brutal. We had ice on Lake Superior into June and it lingered longer than normal here too. I found footage of her doing another job last spring. Someone put this clip up on youtube of her pushing a Jack Up Barge while towing GVSU’s Wind Sentinal for deployment.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL2wT7uXMMU

The inner harbor pretty much iced over in a short 24 hour period last week. I understand the Toronto harbor had also completely iced over in the space of one night last week. With the recent arctic blast and gale with waves at 13 and more feet we are socked in with significant pressure ridges already built up along our shores.

ShadowedMeredithAshton3  ShadowedMeredithAshton8

DSC_0834  ShadowedMeredithAshton7a

I’d read that tugs can be used for ice breaking but I’d never seen one in action. Last night the Meredith Ashton was doing a slow zig zag across the channel, gunning her significant engines and breaking the newly formed ice with the force of her spraying rooster tails. She alternated between doing that and slowly ‘ramming’ the pack. In some of these pictures she actually nosed in to the pier and let her engines roar. It was impressive to see that ice churn and move. I could have stayed a great while longer just to watch her as she was mesmerizing but, hello, frost bite. As I turned to head back to warmth this guy came out, climbed over her bow onto the pier and sauntered away while she gunned her engines, turned and headed to the other side of the channel.

It took her awhile to move that ice. I took these around 10:30 last night. When I checked the NOAA webcams this morning she still hadn’t broken through the rest of the pack:

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.24.22 AMShooting her in the deep shadow of night was difficult because of the sharp contrast between night and her blinding flood lights. I hope you enjoyed this view of life in a working port. Thanks for stopping by.



6 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed

  1. The photos show the eerieness of a winter night out on the Lake. The boat is a lonely figure slicing through the ice. I once walked along those frozen shores at Grand Haven and Holland.

  2. Bravo! Very dramatic and captivating shots. Kudos to you as well as you also weathered the inclement weather to get the photos. Sometimes the ice tugs have to work a litle bit harder than their skipper actually anticipates. Thank you for sharing your work! 🙂

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