The Navesink River was bustling with ice-starved skaters, walkers and racers Saturday, raising concern that too many people may be assuming that the entire surface is solid when it isn’t.
“There’s a lot of places that are unsafe,” said racer Jim Hadley, of Neptune, during a lunch break at the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club. “Our safety guy marks all the holes he can find with orange cones, but there’s certainly places that aren’t safe” that might have been overlooked, he said.
“It’s safe for people who know what they’re doing,” says another clubber. “But we’re now getting people with baby strollers out there.”
The club, which is private, has a sign prominently posted at river’s edge alerting visitors that the ice is “unsafe.” Still, dozens of people were out on the near-in ice, and some boaters, walkers and skaters could be seen well outside the vicinity of the clubhouse.
Ice boaters say the “morning ice” was hard as a rock, but the mid-day return to milder temperatures under a strong sun softened the ice somewhat.
The National Weather Service forecasts daytime temperatures reaching into the high 30s over the next few days, followed by nights in the teens. In addition, “an abundance of moisture” is anticipated by the NWS for this region in the form of a possible snowstorm Tuesday night or Wednesday. That could provide a nice new layer of freshwater ice if the temperature cycle prevails, said Hadley.
Meantime, the watchword is caution, says Don Abrams, of Little Silver, a past commodore (’79) of the ice boaters’ club.
“In these conditions, you have to know what you’re doing,” he said.