Boaters fight ice on the Delaware

January 22, 2009 3:59:43 PM PST
This time of year, the Delaware River can seem like one big ice jam, and that's potential trouble for both boats and people.New Jersey State Police boats have to cut their way through inches of ice piling up along the shoreline.

"We have the ice floes coming down from north on the river," said Trooper Keith Trotman. "They blow over to the Jersey side and they just stack up. The ice gets thicker and thicker."

Troopers are using the ice buildup at the Wiggins Park marina in Camden to train for ice rescues with special suits and equipment.

"We're just trying to get the basics down. How do you get in and out of the ice, how you're affected by the suits that we wear and, basically, what you're going to need if you are called out on a rescue," Trotman said.

Upriver in Trenton, the Delaware appears to be completely frozen over in some spots.

Thick shards of jagged ice have popped up in some places.

Ice can look frozen solid, and may be tempting to kids who want to venture out and walk around, but experts say it's not safe.

"It's very unstable out there. It may look thick, it may look safe, but it could break away at any time," said Capt. Todd Willever of the Trenton Fire Department.

Suzanne Astraski lives right next to the Delanco-Riverside bridge where, in 2003, an ice jam broke along the Rancocas Creek, sending docks and boats slamming into the bridge.

"We had ice up to the bulkhead here. That's how deep the ice was," Astraski said.

Shipping channels along the Delaware are open, but it's a long, slow slog through the ice for smaller boats closer to shore.

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