Monday, January 21, 2013


Traffic boarded the Arni J. Richter from
the Potato Dock for the 8 a.m. departure.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

This Monday morning was the first trip of the winter for the Arni J. Richter, and the first official loading at the newly dredged Potato Dock.  Pete Nikolai met traffic waiting to board and worked with components of a new, portable ticketing system.  Crews prepared the decks for possible freezing spray as the engines warmed at the pier.

Pete Nikolai met customers at the upland staging
 area, using a new portable ticketing system.

Traffic included the typical load of autos and passengers, with a pumper unit belong to the Washington Island Volunteer Fire Department being the first truck to load on a scheduled run from that location.  Joel Gunnlaugsson was driving the truck to a facility in the Fox Valley for maintenance.   One standard item not loaded on board due to observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday was the U. S. Mail.

Joel Gunnlaugsson, who also wears hats of
ferry captain and Town Board Chairman, drove the pumper
truck off the island for maintenance,
also on his way to attend a meeting
as a County Board Supervisor.

It was that time of year for beginning a new, anticipated routine.  Morning air temperatures hovered at +2 degrees F with a sharp NW wind.  New ice, some made overnight, the rest blown in from the north, covered approximately 80% of waters between Washington Island and the Door Peninsula.  Steam rose from patches of open water to the east where the bay opens to the lake itself.  After toying with us for the past month, winter seemed finally to settle in.

The Island's two remaining commercial fishermen brought their tugs C & R (Jeff McDonald) and Sea Diver (Kenny Koyen) around the island from Jackson Harbor Saturday, in advance of the predicted cold spell and ice that would lock them in at Jackson.

The Detroit Harbor channel with ice now formed to the entrance buoy and beyond will not be navigable for the ferry Washington.  That ferry, with less draft than the AJR, made all ferry trips in early winter, given the lack of ice during that time.

Crews began the winter layup process immediately after the AJR's departure, starting with the draining of engine room water lines and pumps, necessary before turning off electric heaters.  We're now beyond the middle of January, and given what may be a shortened ice season (no certainty, of course), within a few months a non-ice breaking ferry could once again operate from our main docks near the Island Ferry Terminal.

Until then, crews and passengers will have time to adjust to the new routine of operating from the Potato Dock using the ice breaker Arni J. Richter.

This coming week may prove too cold to accomplish any dredging at Northport, due to icing of the spuds in their wells on his barge, but Mike Kahr had begun work there with his machines.  He switches back and forth between two excavators on board the barge. One is fitted with a breaker point to loosen the bedrock before scooping it up with the second machine's bucket.  When the temperatures rise once again, he will continue deepening the maneuvering area off the end of Northport Pier. Then, if ice allows, he'll return with his barge to Detroit Harbor where more dredging and dock work awaits.

Mike Kahr broke up rock ledge to deepen
waters near the end of Northport Pier.
Photo taken Friday afternoon, Jan. 18.

Monday morning ferry departure from Potato Dock.

1 comment:

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