Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Atlas Beneda skied alongside ice shoves on west side, March 7.
I began with the title "Enjoying Winter" as a statement, to reflect the many enjoyable days we've had so far, but later I added the question mark, to elicit response from readers.  Not everyone views winter from the same point of view, of course.

In the photos below, and in the blogs that will follow this one - as I get back on track - we'll look at some of the scenes and conditions observed in past weeks.   We've had lots of snow, more than usual depth for late February or early March, some rain and melting, refreezing, fog...a variety that can come with winter.   No real snowstorms in recent weeks, but many of us hope for at least one more, to put another foot of snow on the ground.   April's often a crummy month here.   Might as well have some snow to play with.

Late last week, grandson Atlas - his third time on skis - and I crossed part of Little Lake, then skied over the ridge separating that lake from the bay.  We were rewarded with a wonderful view: jumbled ice fields.  Close to shore were several ice piles I would estimate to be 15-18 feet high, made up of hefty ice pieces from fields that moved across open waters a month or so ago, before they were stopped at the island's rocky shores.  It will take weeks for those ice shoves to melt, so there is no hurry to get out there if you'd like to see them.

Vehicles - pickups and snowmobiles mostly -
made an ice highway this winter to fishing shacks.
Landing at the Potato Dock: Other than an hour's delay
for fast-moving ice during a February blizzard, no
 crossing problems have been encountered this winter.

With the amount of snow cover, skiing or snowshoeing was one of the few ways to get around by manpower.  Of course, snowmobiles had good conditions, too, for a change, once a snow base was established.  Ice fishermen made regular trips back and forth over Detroit Harbor ice, to set tip-ups or jig.  Fishing results spotty.  Most shanties are off the ice now, after a major melt on Sunday that left slop over the surface. This is, according to local experts, the time of season perch will bite - if they're ever going to.  

Sunday morning in heavy fog, Mike Kahr pushed his rig from Northport back to Washington Island.  He immediately began dredging near our regular island ferry docks.

Kahr ran short of time at Northport, but plans to return after Detroit Harbor work is accomplished.

We've landed bow-to the Northport pier with the AJR these last seven weeks to avoid putting screws into shallow water near the pier.   Depth was increased there, but not yet uniform enough to risk backing in.

When his barge got close to our docks, Kahr used his backhoe
to steer and to break ice near the ferry terminal
 (so his second backhoe could be off-loaded to shore).

The Ferry Line received an extension to the island dredging permit (now April 1st), for which we're thankful. That should give Kahr time needed to deepen waters near the island docks.  He's backed up with other work now, customers waiting for him to do similar work at their locations.  We're thankful the weather's been mild and conditions were good for his tow across the Door.  The Arni J. Richter led the way and widened a track through loose, but substantial, bay ice.

Pneumatic breaker point on excavator
 (foreground) was used to break up
rock strata at Northport.

Snowfall amounts this winter bode well for improved lake levels.  By May, we hope to be using multiple ferries at our traditional landing sites.   -  Dick Purinton

By law, fish shanties have to be removed by the middle of March, but
with melting snow and rain last weekend, these were pulled early.


Tony Woodruff said...

We're glad to see you back. You've been missed! This entry to your blog provides a pleasant and informative account of winter on the island, accompanied by such delightful photos. Winter is such a valuable time and so important in our annual cycle of life. I'm indebted to my parents for settling in northern Minnesota, allowing my brothers and me to grow up experiencing all that a cold and snowy winter has to offer. Thanks very much for your continuing efforts in providing the "News" and photographs. They reveal very special aspects of Washington Island life. Our family is quite appreciative. - - Tony (& Grace) Woodruff

Bill Tobey said...

Dick, I second all of Tony's "thank you" thoughts and it's great to see you back. The quilt story is very good too!

Surprised to see the Robert Noble moved over to the main island dock yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I lived your recent blog posts. The photos of quilts and ice shoves were extraordinary. Your blog makes me feel connected to my favorite place. Thanks for putting in the time and energy! Looks like your grandchildren have adjusted well to their island move. :0)
--St. Louis, MO