Although Great Lakes sailing peaks in the summertime, the opposite is true for repairs.
A summertime lull is over, and crews at DonJon Shipbuilding and Repair are working overtime, racing to complete repairs before the lake locks reopen.
"All the boats come in, they all need to be repaired all at once, so that is definitely when we increase our activities," said General Manager Rick Hammer.
He says the mild winter offers a mix of benefits and drawbacks.
Above-freezing temperatures are great for workers, but a lack of ice is a problem.
It might sound backwards, but Hammer says open water is not good news for ship repair crews. Yes, ships need open water to sail, but every time the water moves, the ship does too.
"When the lake is not frozen, the vessel floats on the water, moves around and heaves, rocking," he said. "Once it's frozen, the vessel is basically stationary. It's a lot easier to maintain a gangway, and when making crane lifts on or off a vessel, it's not moving around."
But if a warmer lake is the biggest challenge this winter, Hammer says he'll be thrilled. 
After three years of pandemic-related headaches, it's business as usual along the water, good news as the busy season begins.
"Labor shortages obviously impacted us throughout the bulk of the pandemic, but now, this year, we've done very well in getting people, and it's looking better," Hammer said.
So while the rest of Erie braces for the cold, DonJon welcomes it, as a cold lake wind carries the promise of a successful season. 
"The nastier the weather, usually the boat is a little more damaged, and we have a little more work," Hammer said.