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Ice Breakers Search For Frozen Hazards In Blistering Cold Weather

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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CHESTER, Md. (WJZ) — The recent wave of freezing temperatures might slow some of us down.

But Alex DeMetrick reports, it puts Maryland’s ice breakers on the move.

At 80 feet and 100 tons, the motor vessel Sandusky leaves Kent Narrows hunting for ice.

Finding it doesn’t seem like much of a challenge after days of blistering cold, but it takes more than freezing temperatures.

“The movement of the wind and the water, it just keeps the ice from forming,” said Shawn Orr, captain.

Finding ice is hard, except in sheltered places like marinas.

Grinding open a channel isn’t about pleasure boating. On the shore, watermen work in cold weather, and the Sandusky helps make that possible.

“You have these guys trying to make a living, and they’re really hard-working people. They’re thankful like anyone else, just to get out and get in a day’s work,” said Jordan Melvin, crewman.

Even though ice has been spotty, it can still cause trouble.

“They’re sitting low in the water,” said Orr.

Just like the duck hunters. Earlier this month, the Sandusky broke ice, creating a passage for rescuers to help other stranded hunters.

“Once the boat takes on water and that water starts to freeze, it can really affect the stability of your boat, especially a small boat, and you’re in real trouble. You just start sinking,” said Orr.

That’s not a good prospect in water this cold.

The Sandusky is one of four boats the Department of Natural Resources positions around the bay for ice breaking.

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