Thursday, December 20, 2012


Roen construction barge and material barge,
4:30 pm, Wednesday Dec. 19
filling the first barge load of spoils.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

With what could be described as one of the most perfect days of the year - calm, sunny, mild - Roen Salvage arrived shortly after noon Wednesday at the Potato Dock location after a tow of equipment from Egg Harbor that began early the evening before.

Potato Dock operations began
with perfect weather Wednesday.
Dredging operations began with the first bucket scraping hardpan around 1:30 pm, and there was very slow progress in the first several hours, despite digging with several different styles of buckets.  Barges were repositioned shoreward, where bottom material was somewhat softer, and better progress was made, roughly 350 cubic yards by 9 pm.   By that time the barge had settled under its load so that maneuvering depths were near zero.

At 7 am this Thursday morning, unloading began as five dump trucks owned by Island contractors lined up to begin hauling.   It is hoped this first barge load of many can be off-loaded in time to start on a second barge, prior to the impending, predicted storm.  (Rich Ellefson, coordinating trucks at the Potato Dock, reported 38 truckloads @ 10 yds. per truck to empty the barge.  Digging has commenced once again.)

Offloading this morning, 9 am, Thursday.
 This entire dredging exercise, just this phase, could take easily a week or more, and it's dependent upon cooperative conditions for wind, sea and air temperature.  If it becomes too cold, for an extended period, Roen's equipment will have to return to Sturgeon Bay, where it will be wintered.

Contractor Mike Kahr is also anticipated to be available soon, and both the Northport dock and the toughest areas to dig around the Potato Dock may be left for his excavator and hydraulic hammer.  His equipment takes a smaller bite, which means it takes longer to dig an area, but for the toughest, rockiest bottom areas it may be the only solution.

As of 9:00 am this morning, winds were between 15-20 mph, easterly, and the air temperature was 35 degrees.  Still good for our ferry trips and not a problem for the dredge.

However, since that time heavy rains began to change over to sleet, and wind gusts have increased to 30 mph as the wind direction shifted to NE.  Velocities are expected to increase to 45-50 kt. by late afternoon, according to the NOAA marine weather forecast.  Most commercial ships have either stayed in port, or they are currently heading to safe harbor at this time.  Snow began to fall farther south, already 7 inches in Madison, 4.5 inches in Wausau, and so forth, but here on the Island and along the lakeshore, temperatures have given us (much welcomed) moisture in the form of heavy rains.

Now, as of 11:15 am, sleet appears to be changing over to snow.  

Our plan is to run this last ferry trip of the morning, then suspend ferry service until after the storm winds have passed - which could be at some point Saturday morning.  No way of knowing for sure, at this point, but all forecasts indicate both high winds and lower temperatures, so that even 30-kt. winds, manageable back in October and November, would cause heavy build-up of ice on deck.  We will avoid that, and the low visibility predicted with blizzard-like conditions.

-  Dick Purinton

No comments: