Saturday, January 26, 2008

Coast Guard Braving Cold To Train With Ice Boat

Coast Guard personnel have been taking Ohio's only ice boat out on Lake Erie for training missions. Five crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Marblehead braved chilly temperatures this week for a 1 1/2-hour training session which began and ended at Dempsey Fishing Access area in Danbury Township. "It'll go over the water, over the ice. We drove it right up the ramp. It'll go over pretty much anything," said Executive Petty Officer Joe Kreisler as the crew finished loading the boat onto a trailer pulled by a pickup. The vessel, which is also sometimes called an air boat, is one of only a handful used by the Coast Guard. "We're the only one in Ohio that's got one," the officer said. The other crewmen said ice boats are used in the cold Great Lakes regions, including Saginaw Bay in Michigan.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard tie down the ice boat following training exercises at Dempsey State Park in Danbury.
The vessel is mainly used for ice rescues. "It's mainly for shallow water, and that's why we got it, for the ice," the officer said. He said the vehicle is powered by a large fan which sits on the rear of the vessel. "It's pretty simple, really," Kreisler said. He said it drives in pretty much the same manner as a car. The crew is a minimum of three people, but the officer said more went on the training mission to get experience. Kreisler said the personnel at the Marblehead station have had three training sessions so far this season. The local station performed one ice rescue last year, and has not had any yet this year, according to the officer.

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