The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay breaks ice on the Penobscot River in Bangor in 2019. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

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My husband and I went to the Brewer waterfront to exercise our new puppy. We saw the two Coast Guard ice cutters swirl around and head downstream. They hadn’t gone under the bridge to the Kenduskeag Stream where the worst ice dams form, so I was quite surprised to see them both head downstream.

The cold terminated our walk so we went back to the car just as one of the Coast Guard boats was returning. I stood and watched as the boat cut a little further into the ice. The loud grating noises were quite alarming. I hadn’t realized the ice was so thick. I watched from the car as this small boat chopped the ice in a semi-circle like a big mouth might have done. It then rested head on to the ice that hadn’t been chopped, and sat there with the propeller whizzing around to create a flow for the ice to go down stream, quite a feat in itself since too much and the boat would cut into the ice, and not enough would not create the current needed.

The boat went downstream to release the jam that had formed, then returned to do more ice chopping and create more currents to push the ice downstream. I guessed the Coast Guard worked with the outgoing tides to enhance their current forming procedure. It was quite a treat to watch them as they worked. Thank you to the Coast Guard for the hard work.

Ann Pedreschi