For 62 winters, the mighty Icebreaker Mackinaw sliced its way through the frozen Great Lakes so shipping could continue despite seemingly impenetrable waters. The original Mackinaw was decommissioned in 2006, but not before writer Sandy Planisek had the opportunity to document life onboard. Among the fascinating factoids she found: The crew had names for different ice, determined by the clatter of it against the hull. “It was incredibly noisy – from tinkly sounds to feeling like you were in a washing machine with rocks going around,” Planisek says. The ice names themselves were so vividly frigid that we just had to share:

Glass: Thin and crackly icePancake: Flat, round ice chunks
Mashed potato: Flaky ice; mushes up in piles
Margarita: Small, crunchy bits of ice
Saran: Very thin iceBlue ice: Deep and solid; clear on top and dark way down below.

Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan’s

Note: This article was originally published in January 2008 and was updated for the web February 2008.