Thursday, March 9, 2017

Crew members posed Wednesday, March 8, with stainless AJR "wheels" at
Island Ferry Terminal Building: (L to R) Front, Joel Gunnlaugsson; Con McDonald.
Back: Craig Krueger; Pete Nikolai; Hoyt Purinton; Erik Foss; Tully Ellefson;
Janet Hanlin; Bill Jorgenson; Bill Schutz; and Rich Ellefson.

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Yesterday a pair of stainless ice propellers were displayed near the Ferry Terminal front entrance.  These are spares that have been in storage since their purchase a little over a year ago.   Rather than continue to store them inside a workshop building, Joel Gunnlaugsson and Con McDonald got busy fabricating a stand on which the two wheels could be publicly displayed.

The propellers were purchased through Kahlengberg Bros. of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, long a provider of propellers, shafts and couplings in the commercial marine market.  Having the spares means, potentially, avoiding a wait of many months to get the right propellers, or propeller, should damage occur for any reason to the Arni J. Richter's current set.  Each propeller measures 66-inches in diameter, with a pitch of 42".  These are robust, "ice class" propellers, meaning the flukes and hub are built to withstand most reasonable ice work without incurring damage.  Yet, one never knows what can happen, and having a damaged propeller, while serious at any time, would result in utmost strain if it meant the Arni J. Richter was out of commission for any length of time in winter.  They were purchased as "insurance" for approximately the cost of a new luxury automobile.

Weighing an estimated #1500 each, they are not easily moved, and the stand that was fabricated in the shop by Joel and Con is equally sturdy, so the propellers become shiny yard art, and not a hazard for curious children.

Pair of Ice Class-C propellers:
bored, keyed for six-inch propeller shafts,
with anti-singing edges. *
Ready to install when/if the occasion arises.

*       *         *

When setting up this group photo, which I believe represents each of the crew who are engaged in  providing ferry service this winter, I was gently reminded there hadn't been a blog since late January.  It's nice to know that some people read them and keep track!  I'll have to improve on my habits, is all I can say.

The 2017 winter has managed to slide past us, almost, but not without giving us the extremes of snowstorms, near-record melting temperatures, icing conditions on trees and power lines, and just these past two days, storm-force winds.

Each scheduled ferry trip was made Tuesday and Wednesday, and according to Captain Bill Jorgenson, yesterday's trip (Wednesday's) went well.  Waves and spray in the door, but otherwise good docking in the westerly gusts at Northport.  Little-to-no ice remains in the upper Bay, except for a few strips of loose ice here and there, and in shallow shoreline indentations.  The Detroit Harbor west channel was starting to fill up with ice moving in from the shore beyond the entrance light, drifting along Willow Point near Rutledges.  It was Bill's observation that this ice might have left Gills Rock's harbor Tuesday, pushed by the then SSW winds toward Washington Island.

Heavy rains that preceded the wind knocked down nearly all evidence of snow and ice, on roads and in fields, but we've been at that juncture several times before this winter, only to have it covered in snow once again.  Maybe, this time we'll start to see the greening of spring and the beginning bloom of flowers.

It was the earliest we'd ever seen a snake out and about in mid-February, when Mary Jo nearly stumbled across a two-foot long, brown, northern water snake.  It was crawling along, more or less on the same path we were as we walked in the woods near our home.  This encounter occurred during one of those foggy, rainy periods, when snowbanks had been reduced to icy mounds, and the ground still had frost.  What inspired this 2-ft. snake to make an excursion at this time of winter when temperature was in the mid-30s?  More to the point, why did it choose to be seen by us, disturbing what we considered a winter's walk?  Mary Jo, who dislikes snakes and who responded by shrieking, has one more reason to believe that she seems to attract such creatures.

Spring break is about to begin for our Island Schools.  Tournament college basketball is already underway.  Indoors, those projects intended for completion during times of adverse winter weather need to move along more rapidly in order to be completed before summer.

-  Dick Purinton

*  Anti-singing edges are trailing blade edges beveled to reduce the "hum" or "singing," vibrations that occur when power load is taken off the propeller.