PORTLAND, Maine — The Fore River and the inner part of Portland Harbor looked positively Arctic on Tuesday morning as sheets and chunks of ice carpeted the normally open water.
Sea birds rested on bobbing, miniature icebergs. A few lobster boats picked their way through the floating mess while others sat, locked-up at their moorings.
“This is more ice than we’ve seen in recent years,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Scott McCann in South Portland. “We’ve had great ice-making conditions.”
The U.S. Coast Guard ice-breaking vessel Shackle prowled up and down the harbor , tearing channels through the frozen water. Its sister ships — Tackle and Bridle — were busy breaking ice elsewhere on the coast.
McCann said records in his office indicate Portland Harbor hasn’t needed ice-breaking since 2004.
All Casco Bay ferries were running on time as of Tuesday afternoon. Passengers gathered at the bow of the Machigonne II on the noon run from Peaks Island for a better view of the ice. One woman said she hadn’t seen as much ice in the ocean since she was in Helsinki, Finland. The ferry showed no signs of trouble getting through the frozen obstacle course.
That’s just the way the Coast Guard wants it, said McCann.
“The Coast Guard wants to make sure it’s not a problem,” said McCann. “We know people want to go out and fish, and make a living.”