Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Harbor scene early Saturday morning,
Mike Kahr's barge being positioned
for drilling final core samples. (Purinton)
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

This is being written Tuesday morning, on what we hope will be the final day of major dredging at the Potato Dock.  There will be more dredging over the next few weeks, but in smaller volumes, as areas around the main ferry landings are brought to useable depths.

A reminder of the Potato Dock dredging project goal:  safe navigation and maneuverability at one island landing for our winter ferry, Arni J. Richter (draft of slightly over 11-ft.,loaded.)  The Detroit Harbor channel is now too shallow to chance regular passage with that ferry, the Ferry Line's only ice breaking vessel.   Other ferries draw less water, and because we've not had ice to contend with yet this winter, we've made daily trips much as before, loading at our regular docks using the ferry Washington. (Eyrarbakki and Robert Noble are currently in winter lay-up.)

Roen's project supervisor and crew chief Don Sarter said, "It's time.  We're ready to head home.  It's been a long season."  Ice hasn't yet set in near Sturgeon Bay heavy enough to cause them difficulties in navigating home, a good thing, and winter maintenance and a return to more normal working hours and home life lies ahead.  The crews work in the outdoors, 10-12 hour days, with two crews alternating shift time since Jan. 2nd in order to gain on the production of dredge spoils.

Mike Kahr arrived in port with his barge Wednesday from Fish Creek, and he provided a work platform for Subsurface Exploration Services, LLC, of Green Bay, with its drill rig and operators, along with a Foth Environmental Engineering representative as observer.  Their objective was to obtain representative core samples along the channel bottom that will reveal what type of material a contractor  might encounter after the channel dredging project is bid.  (We're saying "when,"not "if," with optimism that project funding will be approved, in this case by the State of Wisconsin.)

Core sampling resumed Saturday morning for the final holes (and that's when the above photo was taken) as the Kahr barge with drill rig and workers headed out the channel.   Early morning conditions were perfect for stable drilling outside the harbor entrance light.  The photo below was taken by Jim Rose earlier, on Friday, when the rig worked near lighted aid #5.

Kahr work barge with drill rig.  (Jim Rose photo)
 Regular traffic and logging trucks  continued to be ferried aboard the Washington.  Saturday, with Captain Bill Jorgenson down with the flu and Joel Gunnlaugsson driving dump truck, I had a chance to try the helm on three round trips.

Saturday morning log trucks. (Purinton)
Aside from light ice surrounding island landings, no ice is in sight on the route, getting on in January for such a condition to be observed.  It makes me wonder what ice cover we'll ultimately see over upper Green Bay this winter.

While the lack of ice and extreme cold aided greatly to complete the recent weeks' dredging and trucking tasks, ice cover can supposedly slow evaporation of surface water, at least from that small percentage of the lake typically ice covered each winter.  Aside from the rain, sleet and snowfall of several weeks ago, we've since had a dry spell for precipitation.

Monday brought very strong SW winds (30+ mph), but both the Kahr and Roen crews kept dredging, two excavators digging from neighboring barges, tucked in the lee of  the Potato Dock to find calm water.  Sunday's production marked what may have been the highest 12-hour volume so far.  It took more than 66 truckloads to empty the barge, given a good daytime production.  The pile of spoils on the barge was being replenished every few hours with the added stones and hardpan from Mike Kahr's barge.

-  Dick Purinton

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