Fresh off a delivery of Christmas trees to the Chicago area and the replacement of navigational buoys, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw typically enjoys a nice vacation before the ice season begins on the Great Lakes. Lieutenant Junior Grade Carolyn Smith says that in recent years that hasn’t always been the case.
The ship’s responsibilities lie primarily in the Straits of Mackinac, the St. Mary’s River which connects to Lake Superior, and Whitefish Bay. The Soo Locks close in the middle of January for annual maintenance and the Mackinaw can then find itself patrolling Green Bay and nearby waterways before it gets an annual check-up in February. The Mackinaw was built in Marinette and was in Sturgeon Bay over the summer as it dry-docked at Bay Shipbuilding for extensive repairs.