Visit Duluth and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority are partnering once again for the annual celebration of springtime and the kickoff of the shipping season with their "First Ship Contest".

The contest asks participants to guess when the first ocean-going vessel (or "saltie") of the season will pass under Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge. You can make your guesses on the Visit Duluth website, with the submission period open until midnight on March 24.

Last year, the Maria G was the first saltie to reach Duluth. It arrived at 6:48 am on April 15, 2019. The contest requires participants to guess the exact date and time, and last year's winner was off by only 18 minutes from the actual arrival time.

Historically, the earliest saltie arrival was March 30, 2013, when the Federal Hunter set the mark as earliest arrival. The latest ever recorded was the Diana, which pulled into port on May 7, 2014. The late arrival was due to an ice delay.

Lake Superior currently has relatively little ice coverage, and most of the Great Lakes remain open, except for portions of lakes near inlets, outlets, and sheltered areas like bays and harbors. You can see the most recent ice coverage from NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory here.

This contest, which has been an annual tradition since 1984, offers a grand prize that includes lodging accommodations, gift cards for dining and shopping, and passes to attractions in the Duluth area.


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