Subzero Temps Halts Sugar Island Ferry for Several Hours

Subzero temperatures stopped a Chippewa County ferry for more than five hours Wednesday morning.

The cause, a completely frozen rudder.

It’s a very rare occurrence for the Sugar Island ferry to be shut down due to weather, but we are told that part of the reason was because of just how quickly everything froze.

“It’s probably in the case where it got so cold, so quick,” Crew Member Bill Wychopen, said.

He and his team worked non-stop early this morning to free the ferry’s rudder from the ice.

“It was a sledgehammer and a torch, basically down the hull there we had to heat it up bang on it a little bit there to get the casing hot enough.” Bill, explained.

“Once we got a little bit of movement we could then use the prop to kind of help use the water current to erode the ice away and eventually it broke free,” Bill, added.

The Soo to Sugar Island, it’s not a long distance by any stretch, but whether it’s for work or for fun, people that live in the area rely on the ferry to help them get across.

“It’s the only way to get to and from the island, unless you have your own watercraft or whatnot but that’s a little tricky navigating the ice and that in the winter,” Bill, said.

As temperatures on shore dip close to 20 below Wednesday night, Bill and his team will do what it takes to keep this ferry moving.

“You just expedite things a little quicker so you can get in and get the heat there to take the edge off and lots of layers too,” Bill, added.