Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Realizing that it's been nearly two months since my last posting, this blog will touch on a variety of topics.

The photo that begins this column is of the Stavkirke when folks gathered for the Saturday evening Vigil Service, on the eve of Easter.

Rain had let up by this time and a light haze hung low over fields, but the temperature was moderate, in the 50s, making this a pleasant evening.

Inside the Stavkirke, electric baseboard heaters that were turned on well in advance helped warm the space.

I had a second reason for attending this service.  My goal was to obtain a few good photographs to include in a book I'm working on about the Island Stavkirke.   Low light photos, and photos of worship activities were shots I hoped to add as contrast to the many others that will appear in the book.

Photos will comprise the primary content, with text and comments made by those closely involved with its design, construction and use.  No exact publication date can yet be determined, but I'm hoping for a late June or July book launch, if all goes well.  Over 100 photos and illustrations, in color, will be featured, that reflect back twenty five years or more.

Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Alan Schaffmeyer led
the Vigil Service in the Stavkirke.  Dan Hansen (not shown)
helped lead musical selections by playing an electric keyboard.
(Note: Open flames are generally not permitted on the
Stavkirke grounds or in the church, but use of candles during
this special service is one exception.)

At my prompting, Steve Waldron also took photos that same evening, and his results with a quality Canon camera were far better than mine, both in composition and technical quality.  However, I'm saving Steve's photos for the book.  These photos should give you a sense, at least, of what the service was like with low candlelight, in a quiet setting (Quiet, except for the occasional squeak of floorboards and hymns that were sung).  

By coincidence, two of our grandsons, Aidan and Magnus Purinton, were baptized in the Stavkirke the following Saturday with family members present, a pleasant and intimate setting for their ceremony.

Increased, dedicated Stavkirke parking 

Last January a plan was announced by the Trinity Church Council to create a new parking lot for Stavkirke visitors.  By creating dedicated parking to the west of the Stavkirke, with entrance from Town Line Road, more spaces and safer access should result.  Currently, vehicles including buses and tour trams park wherever space is available along the Town Line Road, where already many vehicles may be found,  parked by those using Trinity's facilities.

A fund raising campaign was begun following January's approval by the Trinity congregation. To date, approximately $11,000 has been raised, with $25,000 being the stated goal.

In addition to the already donated dollars, a most generous offer was made by David Small, Island contractor, to provide excavation labor and equipment.  David's offer was accepted, with thanks, by the Church Council.

At this point, it seems certain that work can begin within the next several months.  Possibilities and choices now exist for an improved sidewalk surface (concrete vs. gravel or woodchips), plus the eventual need to blacktop the parking surfaces and driveway.  The $25,000 figure may be still be a conservative goal, given the long-term list of requirements.

Therefore, funds continue to be sought for this project.

Future parking lot diagram with entrance at Town Line Road.
Stavkirke is to the east (right) and Trinity Lutheran Church to the south
(bottom), across the road from the Stavkirke property.

The attached graphic shows a loop-style parking area that will undergo slight modifications prior to actual construction, to account for several existing, large spruce trees, but as a general plan it shows how the new parking design will look.  

Donations for the Stavkirke parking improvement can be made c/o:  Stavkirke Fund, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1763 Town Line Road, Washington Island,
Wisconsin 54246.  

Ferry Washington gets new wheels

In late November a loud "thunk" was heard by the crew of the Washington as the ferry backed toward the Island pier.  Afterward, the vessel's starboard shaft produced a profound shudder.  The noise and vibration was traced to the starboard propeller, resulting when one of the propeller blades came in contact with a sheet of steel that had been placed on the end of the pier to prevent loss of fill from the dock.  That sheet of steel, it is believed, came loose from the pier structure at an earlier juncture. It then lifted from the bottom with the suction and turbulence caused by prop wash, rising from the bottom enough to contact one of the blades.

The ferry was rendered inoperable following that incident, due to the significant vibration.  It was decided then to winterize the vessel and order a replacement propellers, with a dry docking scheduling for early spring, once the bay was ice-free.

Chris Swanson holds the broken
Washington propeller blade, weighing an
estimated 80 pounds.  Impact point that
separated blade from hub can be
on the left.

The subject blade shown here, and the steel sheet, were recovered by Hoyt Purinton, who dove to attach lines for retrieval.  While the remaining three of four blades appeared intact, consultation with propeller manufacturer Kahlenberg indicated that repair of this broken blade wouldn't be possible.  And. since propellers come as a matched pair, replacement with a new pair would be the best option. This necessitated several months lead time for production.

So, during the first week of April, with only mushy ice remaining in the lower bay, the Washington ran slowly on a single, port prop to Sturgeon Bay, where it was dry docked and new wheels were installed.  As it happened, stainless was quoted cheaper than nickel-bronze, so that the new propellers would be sturdier and more resistant to errant objects, such as deadheads, than the old set.  

In addition to propeller replacement, a U. S. Coast Guard, five-year hull inspection was also conducted ahead of the required due date.  This inspection activity is required for each ferry at five-year intervals, and doing so whenever a dry dock opportunity presents itself hopefully extends the time to the next required docking deadline.

Also, prior to this yard visit, it was determined that a slight widening of the stern ramp would facilitate the loading of long and large vehicles, such as semi trucks and trailers.    The ramp opening was therefore increased by one foot on each side - and the ramp leaves were widened accordingly - by moving of the uprights, hydraulic piping, and cable arrangement to accommodate this change.  Now repainted, the average traveler won't notice the change unless the area is examined closely for signs of metal work.  All such work, of course, requires both naval architect plan detail and U. S. Coast Guard approval prior to actual work being done.

With all work completed in approximately eleven days, the Washington sailed back to Detroit Harbor, where it was cleaned, touched-up and placed into service.

Antler hunting as a sport

What Island bucks lose over winter, antler hunters hope to find.

But such a search can be compared with looking for a needle in a haystack, with miles and miles of deer trails in the woods and no rhyme or reason to where an antler might be found.  Following predicted routes of deer travel may help increase the odds of finding an antler, but that is about the only helpful tip we can give readers.  Otherwise, it is luck + time spent searching.   

Hoyt Purinton enjoys hunting antlers in late winter, sometimes with his sons, as a winter or early-spring outdoor activity. It's also reason to get outdoors and walk in the woods during the time of year when other outdoor activities are at a low point.

Antlers found over a two-day period in spring by Hoyt Purinton.  Dark antler
at top shows signs of mice gnawing, and may have been in woods for a
full year or more.

Sometimes, Hoyt has learned, where one half might be discovered lying in snow, or among leaves, (depending on the time of winter or spring, and recent weather) the other half could be found nearby.  But there's no certainty, no rules.  Hoyt happens to possess a lucky eye, and he's often successful at locating antlers.  An antler dropped randomly by a buck can look much like dead cedar branches that litter the forest floor.  It's easy to walk right past despite keeping eyes trained on the ground.  A light snowfall can help by providing contrast, covering the otherwise dark ground. Too much snow will bury an antler, unless it is recently dropped or its tines are large enough to project upward.  

Losing antlers, beginning in January as a rule, happens when bucks renew antlers for the coming season.  A new set forces out the old, which then fall, more or less at random, when they're no longer attached to the deer's skull.  With rare exception, such as in an old or unhealthy buck, the new set will grow in larger and with more points added in each successive year.  Finding an antler with four, five or more significant points per antler may bode well for seeing trophy bucks in the coming year.

Why aren't antlers more commonly seen when strolling through the woods in summer, given the number of possible bucks on Washington Island?   Squirrels and mice like the mineral content and unless an antler is well-buried in debris, few antlers remain intact in the woods throughout a full year.   Another reason may be that we just aren't attuned to spotting them among the typical forest floor debris.

If you're interested and need advice, ask Hoyt or Kevin Krueger, both of whom enjoy antler hunting.

What to do with collected antlers is another question.  Hoyt displays dozens in his home and garage, given Kirsten's generous approval.  Artists and craftsmen (some of whom teach such crafts at Sievers School) incorporate them into a chandelier, lamp or piece of furniture.  If antlers are kept away from rodents, they will last indefinitely.

Get out in the woods and look!  

That's a wrap for this blog!  -  Dick Purinton


Carolyn Foss said...

Some of our Sievers students and teachers have incorporated antlers into handwoven baskets and have made antler buttons for hand-knits and other garments or as embellishments.

Martha said...

Dogs love them!!