Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay crew offers ice safety tips while in Duluth

By KBJR News 1

December 18, 2013 Updated Dec 18, 2013 at 5:41 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The ice is thick on the bow of the Coast Guard ice breaking tug Katmai Bay.

She's just in from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.

"We're standing in for Alder, your resident cutter." said LT Michael Patterson, Captain of the Katmai Bay.

The Alder is still out on the lake pulling in buoys for the end of the shipping season.

That end hasn't quite come yet, so the Katmai Bay is keeping the shipping lanes open for the time being.

While in port the tug's crew took some time for training and practice on ice safety practices.

"If we see someone in distress, we're able to provide instant response." said Patterson.

In winter, Coast Guard rescuers live for ice.

"The ice acronym is intelligence, clothing and equipment." said BM2 Jonathan Bauer.

Boatswain's Mate Second Class Jonathan Bauer is from New Ulm, Minnesota so he knows a little about ice.
He says intelligence means knowing ice conditions.

"Look at the water itself. Go near the ice on solid ground and have a heavy object to poke with." said Bauer.

Clothing means wearing a flotation device plus warm, water–resistant gear.

"Be prepared in the event you go into the water you're not wearing something that's going to catch the water and drag you down." said Bauer.

Equipment means having the means to rescue yourself in an emergency.

"Best thing you can do is have a couple of sharp objects like screwdrivers or ice awls and if you go through, you can use those to stab your way in and get yourself to safety." said Bauer.

The experts also stressed that no ice is safe ice, even when it's thirty below.

"Ice is very unpredictable and bear that in mind whenever you go out on the ice." said Bauer.

The Coast Guard also encourages the buddy system. They say ice enthusiasts double the odds of survival and rescue if they are with a friend when out on the ice.

Dave Anderson