The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — A track will be broken through the Lake Erie ice between Put-in-Bay and Catawba Island early next week so a tug and barge can deliver steel for a dock project in Put-in-Bay, authorities have announced.
The tug Ohio, a commercial icebreaker, will travel from Cleveland to South Bass Island early Monday morning, then is scheduled to leave at 10 a.m. to escort the tug Bessie J to the shoreside Miller Ferry dock on Catawba Island, the Coast Guard announced. The Bessie J will tow one barge that is to be loaded at the Miller dock, then return to Put-in-Bay.
After unloading on South Bass, both tugs and the barge are scheduled to head back to Cleveland.
While all activity is expected to occur Monday, the Coast Guard said, loading delays or weather problems could force the vessels to lay over at South Bass on Monday night and sail for Cleveland on Tuesday.
All movements between Put-in-Bay and Catawba Island will follow the normal Miller Ferry route, according to the Coast Guard and HPH Mechanical, the contractor for the project to replace public docks in Put-in-Bay.
HPH originally planned to make the barge move early this week, but the Coast Guard ordered a delay so it could prepare and issue an alert to lake users.
Lt. Jim Long, chief of response at the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Toledo, said the icebreaking will make nearby ice “more unsafe than normal.” But Mark Nowakowski, an HPH representative, said the ferry route should not affect ice fishing.
“We’re doing this east of Put-in-Bay, where there’s open water already. We’re staying away from the ice-fishing areas,” Mr. Nowakowski said, adding that water currents between South Bass and Kelleys Island curtail ice formation there even at times when nearby parts of Lake Erie freeze over.
“All efforts are being made to limit the impact on winter activities on the ice, including ice fishing,” the Coast Guard said in its advisory.
Mr. Nowakowski said areas where the tugs break ice to reach Catawba are likely to re-freeze quickly next week. Forecasters expect temperatures to stay well below freezing for most of next week in northern Ohio, with temperatures possibly dipping below zero on several nights.