Kevin Wentworth has been ferrying people and cargo between the mainland and Casco Bay islands for a dozen years, but rarely has he seen ice as thick as it has been this winter.

During his regular run Tuesday, Wentworth trained his digital video camera over the bow of the 52-foot-long steel-hulled ferry The Islander as it charged through the ice on his early-morning trip from Cousins Island to Chebeague Island for the Chebeague Transportation Co. Wentworth posted a video of his ice-breaking voyage on YouTube, and it was picked up and broadcast by The Weather Channel on Wednesday morning.

“I think that’s funny they played that this morning,” Wentworth said. “I didn’t even know.”

The video shows The Islander encountering ice floes as it approaches Chebeague, before pushing straight through snow-covered ice to get to the island landing. The vessel goes forward and back several times to clear an area around the pier.

“It’s more ice than typical,” Wentworth said Wednesday.

The Islander came out mostly unscathed, losing only a few chips of paint, he said. But the task sometimes requires a bigger boat, he said. About a week ago, Wentworth said, a U.S. Coast Guard boat was called in to help chop up the ice.


“I have never had to see the Coast Guard come out and break out ice before,” Wentworth said.

Ice has been a challenge around Chebeague in the past. In 1934, a Casco Bay Lines ferry got stuck in the ice and passengers had to walk more than 200 yards to Chebeague’s shoreline. Newspaper clippings from 1933 and 1934 also describe Casco Bay as being frozen so hard that people drove cars between Chebeague and Falmouth, reportedly following the ice that had formed around Littlejohn and Cousins islands.

Chebeague is about a mile from Cousins Island and nearly 3 miles from the mainland in Falmouth.

Ice has been thicker than usual in other parts of Casco Bay, too, including in Portland Harbor.

The Coast Guard, which sends its cutters to break ice when requested, has used its 65-foot ice-breaking harbor tug Shackle to break a channel in the Harraseeket River for an ice-bound Maine Marine Patrol vessel and to clear the shipping channel in the Fore River, home to Portland Harbor, said Lt. Scott McCann.

The Shackle also has had to break ice around the Coast Guard’s own pier and around rescue boats on the South Portland side of Portland Harbor.


“Two or three times in the last week or two, there’s been so much ice there that the station had be to be broken out,” said Lt. Scott McCann. “Local guys have said it’s a pretty infrequent occurrence.”

Assistant Portland Harbor Master Kevin Battle said it’s rare to have solid ice in the harbor, although it has happened.

“In 1980, we had a winter like this and they actually were running the (Coast Guard) buoy tenders” in Portland Harbor to break the ice, Battle said.

That was the same winter, Battle said, when he told himself to leave Maine and move south. He didn’t listen.

John Richardson contributed to this report.

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