If you plan to head out on the Bay of Green Bay soon – a word of warning. The port is still welcoming ships and this weekend the Coast Guard will be out breaking ice.
At the mouth of the Fox River ice covers the waters leading to the Port of Green Bay.
“This chart shows the navigational channel location,” said Port Director Dean Haen.
But starting this weekend U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw will arrive to open that important shipping channel.
“The Coast Guard is coming over from Michigan to bring in two vessels and escort them back out,” Haen said.
It’s a process that will take roughly four days to complete as those ships offload their cargo. And Brown County’s port director wants anyone thinking about heading out on the bay during that time to be aware of the possible dangers.
“We want people to be aware if they are venturing further off shore. We want them well informed so they’re not trying to cross the bay in any regard,” Haen said.
As the cutter moves through the shipping channel, traveling south from Sturgeon Bay, it will open up a path in the ice over 100-feet wide.
“This will be essentially like a track, it will be like a road,” Haen said.
But while that ice is kept open Haen says those who fish, ride a snowmobile or ATV need to stay far away.
“It’s never safe to go across the bay – especially with the big ships coming through,” said Jeff Tilkens.
Tilkens owns a bait shop on the bay. He says when ice cutters are in operation, ice near the shipping channel is stressed creating dangerous conditions.
“Especially with snow cover. You can’t see a crack, you go over a crack and it could be lights out, “said Tilkens.
The work starts on Saturday and the track will be open for at least four days. The last visit to the port before closing until the spring.
And the port now says a third ship is expected to arrive over the weekend.