Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Never mind the feet of ice still clogging the Duluth Superior Harbor, the 2014 shipping season has officially begun even if its one ship at a time.
On Saturday the 767–foot long Cason J. Callaway left the harbor under the Arial Lift Bridge around 1:30 PM as a crowd gathered along the pier.
The 62–year–old vessel is part of the Great Lakes Fleet, operated by Key Lakes, and is on its way to Two Harbors to load Iron Ore pellets.
Crews on the Coast Guard Cutter Alder were out hours before to break up the ice, which is five feet thick in some places. Port authority leaders anticipate travel times to be about twice what they normally are.
Boat watchers who flocked to the scene say it’s an encouraging sign of spring to come.
It gives you hope [for] spring, and it's scenic," said Waconia resident Karen Kahmeyer, "it's just beautiful, be it snow or not. It's a beautiful day."
The Presque Isle will also make the same trip either Saturday night or Sunday. These vessels have reinforced hulls able to withstand significant ice pressure.
Inbound Lakers are expected to arrive to load around April first.