Saturday, December 28, 2019


Although the bow section was moved out prior to Christmas
to another building, the stern half remains in Bldg. 311 where
assembly began in September.  Work continues on the rubrail (left) while

installation of the stern tubes and appendages that will support
the rudder take place above.  (Rich Ellefson photo)
- Detroit Harbor, Washington Island

Progress continues on the Madonna construction, with special emphasis on the stern section that remains in Bldg. 311 inside the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding yard.

Rich Ellefson reported in by phone this Saturday morning to say that weld testing for pinholes continued into the weekend on the stern section.  He was standing by to witness completion of this task before coming home.  Occasionally a pinhole is discovered that must then be drilled or cleaned, and then welded again to ensure watertight integrity.  The test is anything but dramatic in that it consists of visual inspection by a U. S. Coast Guard inspector of many hundreds of feet of weld, but every so often a bubble in the soapy liquid gives clue to a pinhole similar to searching for a leak in a car tire).  When a leak is discovered, the welder standing by must clean the surface and lay another pass.  It is an essential step in the process of obtaining Coast Guard certification.  The worst might be discovering an annoying pinhole leak months later, necessitating grinding of paint coatings before correcting the problem.  It could also, if serious enough, require a dry docking to correct.  

Coast Guard Marine Inspector Jim Condra observes inch-by-inch
the integrity of shell plating welds.  
Fincantieri workmen been working overtime to have the stern section ready for turnover Monday, January 6.

One complication in that maneuver may be the projecting of the now vulnerable stern tubes  (propeller shaft enclosures), and protrusions that will become supports for the rudder stocks.

A view at the underside of the hull directly outboard from the engine room space shows an inset, rectangular box on either side of the keel.  Each pocket will hold a keel cooler, a radiator-like grid manufactured by Fernstrum of Menominee, Michigan.  The grid tubes are made of copper/nickel and will provide closed loops for engine cooling liquid on the hull's underside.  The material's softness also makes them quite vulnerable to deadheads (errant, waterlogged timbers) and also heavy pieces of ice.  For that reason, subway grids will bolt over each cooler, and heavy steel angles will line either side of the coolers to offer further ice protection.

Gridcoolers pocket with protective angle.
Basis for the skeg that will support
outer end of each propeller shaft.

Because of potential for damage to the stern tubes during turnover, should they strike the ground unintentionally, the flipping of the stern section will be a crucial evolution.  According to Rich, there might be shipyard preference for an end-for-end rotation, rather than side-to-side rollover, in order to offer less risk should the lift go awry.   The location and welding of each stern tube is so critical for shaft alignment that welding involves two opposing workers welding simultaneously on the heavy pieces of steel.  Such care is intended to avoid the distortion of stern tube alignment.

Another delicate lift event might be that of the main deck pedestal, a rather lightly constructed "box" that could be a bit "flimsy" when lifted for setting.  Temporary stiffeners will be installed as spreaders to maintain the box-like shape until set on deck in its intended position.  This lift will occur after turnover and after the joining of the two hull sections.

View from bow looking aft at the relative 
positions of the prefabricated pedestal
and starboard side curtain. 
The Madonna's engines and gears arrived at the shipyard late this week, and they will be stored out of the weather until the hull sections are turned upright and joined.

These arrived by truck from FABICK CAT in Green Bay.

-  Dick Purinton

Friday, December 20, 2019


Forward half of hull lifts clear of work table Thursday and was then
set on the transporter at left.  (Rich Ellefson photo)
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

This week was notable for the variety of milestones in the Madonna construction progress.

Wednesday Rich Ellefson visited Fabick CAT in Green Bay, where Twin Disc reduction gears were on the floor, awaiting painting to match the CAT yellow of the engines.  Once hydraulic pumps and coolant piping connections are verified, the units will be mated and then trucked to the Sturgeon Bay shipyard.  Shipyard Engine installation plans call for lifting each engine/gear unit into the hull by means of the large graving dock gantry crane, immediately after the stern section has been turned to its upright position.  Actual engine installation with bolting and alignment may come much later, but the lift will be opportune while the crane and the hull are side-by-side.  This should be accomplished early in the week of January 6th.

Vessel name, Madonna, and hailing port, Washington Island,
have been applied to the hull transom.
A major move took place from Bldg. 311 on Thursday, Dec. 19, when lifting pads and cables were attached to hull of the forward half.  According to calculations, the lift strain was # 230,000.   As each welded connection to the underlying construction table was cut through by torch, an audible "bang" resulted, according to Rich.  That sound accompanied the release of inner tension and stresses from welding and heating that had accumulated gradually throughout the hull.

View of the starboard bow and one of several hinges used to attach
the bow ramp.  Two U-shaped channels (at right) provide rub rail
(fender) protection around
 the vessel rail.

Once hovering above the shop table, the bow section was maneuvered by overhead crane to a nearby, multi-axle transporter.  From there, the transporter rolled through the yard's South Gate to the former Palmer Johnson construction building off Second Street (now a part of Fincantieri's production facilities.)

The next morning letters that had been cut for the vessel name and hailing port were tacked in place on the transom.

That name, MADONNA, is now official!

The underside of the hull's stern section shown with "subway" grating over the
pockets that contain Fernstrum Gridcoolers, copper-nickel
tubes that function as compact radiators, exchanging heat from
engine and gear coolant to the lake water.

Friday morning, Dec. 20th, Rich and Hoyt toured general construction progress.  One challenge moving forward will be testing of the watertight integrity of bulkhead and hull welds, to determine there are no leaks.  Such testing can be accomplished by yard personnel providing air pressure to a closed space, or training a stream of water from a fire hose against the hull's exterior.  Visual examination ensues, inch by inch where each critical weld exists, using the method preferred by the U. S. Coast Guard inspector on site.  Each test can be hours long in both set-up and execution.  They are critical in obtaining Coast Guard approval, and must be done before painting of seam welds can begin.  Tasks that may "bury" areas from inspection, such as piping, wiring or insulation, must come after such inspection.  Testing procedures employed on the bow half will be applied similarly to the stern half after roll-out.  

View into the inverted engine room of stern half of hull, after
the bow section  was removed and transported to another
Main construction target dates continue to be met, and the few minor glitches thus far discovered were dealt with quickly, keeping the overall project moving ahead on schedule.  

Rich Ellefson inspects the stairway
leading from main to upper deck.

  - Dick Purinton

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


The entire forward half of the Madonna's hull is plated over now,
and seams are being welded tight. (Hoyt Purinton photo)

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

December's middle days bring us continuation of wintry weather.  Another six inches of snow in the past week, and not much settling or melting of the 10-12 inches already on the ground.  Homeowners become attentive to their roofs, mounds of snow to be cleared above icy gutters, in order to expose shingles to sunlight.  Detroit Harbor remains partially frozen, since Thanksgiving, with ice cover to Snake Island's south end.  It looks like winter's here to stay, with single digits predicted for tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 18.

There are daily deliveries of cards and letters, bills and catalogs to our mail box at the post office. Most impressive.  We've done our Christmas shopping by internet recently, and what follows is an abundance of cardboard boxes delivered daily by ferry from Northport, then sorted and set into piles at the Ferry Office for recipient pick-up in late afternoon.  There is no parcel home delivery on Washington Island for either Fed Ex or UPS (as there is by U. S. Postal rural delivery), and so auto traffic steadily streams to the Ferry Terminal building in the very late afternoon, and again the following morning, as customers retrieve their retrieve packages.

There have been full deck loads of vehicles, and sometimes more than one ferry runs to accommodate traffic leaving the Island.  Return trips in the late afternoon from Northport are equally busy, as Islanders return from a day of shopping, medical appointments and errands.  Soon enough there will be the imposition of vehicle reservations (starting Dec. 20th), a management tool that helps ensure those who intend to travel will have a vehicle space onboard.  Reservations become extra work for the Ferry Line office staff, and it's awkward for travelers, too, but auto reservations smooth out the loading process when vehicle slots are limited and ice prevents use of a ferry other than the icebreaker.

Looking at the transom, the flat stern of the Madonna. New shell plating is added each day.
Turnover of the two halves is still scheduled during January's first full workweek.  

Inside Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding's large fabrication building in Sturgeon Bay, work continues on the new ferry Madonna.  Today's photos again indicate substantial progress toward hull completion, the welding of plating seams, the addition of new shell plates to the stern half of the vessel, and continued finish steelwork on the pedestal piece that will provide structural support and access for the upper passenger decks and pilot house.  (Starts lead to a mid-level, mezzanine cabin, in addition to the uppermost open passenger deck, not dissimilar to the Arni J. Richter's design.)   Photos shown here were taken Monday, Dec. 16 by Hoyt Purinton.

Heavy keel plate runs fore and aft along hull centerline.
View here is of the bow, looking aft. 

Pedestal with aft stairway leading to second deck, 
positioned on the port side, with one auto lane outboard
and three lanes to starboard.  View looks forward.
Shell plating on port side near stern is
bent inward to follow the designed hull curvature,  
just forward of the transom.
 -  Dick Purinton

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Bow-on shot taken Monday, December 1st, by Rich Ellefson 

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Heavy rain, sleet and high winds from the ENE on Wednesday did little to slow construction on the Madonna, nor did the blizzard that followed, Saturday, Nov. 30 into late Sunday, Dec. 1 that dropped between 12 and 15 inches of wet snow on much of Door County.  Shown above in one of several photos taken by Rich Ellefson on his weekly visit to the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding facility, all bow plates are now tacked in place, awaiting welds to fill gaps and connect the plating.

A view of the Madonna engine room (in the still-inverted position) shows scale of worker in the soon-to-be machinery space.  He stands on what appears to be the through-bulkhead section of the port main engine exhaust pipe.  This would be the port side of the engine room looking aft, if I have it right.
Overhead photo shows substantial car deck overhang, port and starboard,
with scaffolding set up that allows welders to begin stitching
hull plating together.  

If it seems confusing enough interpreting such a photo, real credit goes
to shipyard work force who construct the entire hull in the upside-down
orientation, with close tolerances using pre-cut plates.  Exhaust piping
beneath worker shown above runs through aft engine room buklhead and
the void space below car deck, eventually exiting the
shell plating just forward of the transom.

-  Dick Purinton

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Ferry Madonna, constructed with hull inverted, taken bow-on. (Rich Ellefson photo)

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Photos shown in this posting were taken by Ferry Line VP Rich Ellefson Monday and Tuesday of this week, and they indicate significant overall progress once again.

In the shot below, Rich stood on the bottom, straddling the keel and looking forward.

The bow shape is now well-defined and soon should be completely plated over.

Hull plating of 1/2-inch thickness is being added here to the framed
bow section.  Yellow cube is a weight suspended from overhead crane
 used to flatten shell plate until it can be welded to frames.
Below, the center trunk, or pedestal, shows more definition. It will join the main vehicle deck to the upper passenger deck.  A unisex toilet, engine room entry, a locker for the U. S. Mail, and fore and aft stairways are among the features within this main enclosure that will be offset to starboard, between vehicle lanes one and two.  The difficulty encountered in painting the enclosed foredeck overhang, a narrow space (port and starboard) just large enough for a man to crawl within, poses a problem.  All possible hot work will be completed, except the underside plating, so that 95 percent of primer painting can be accomplished before enclosure.

Shown below that photo is one of the engine room overhead.  Pipes, or stanchions, help support the main deck overhead while taking up minimal space around machinery and piping.  A ladder for crew access to the machinery space is shown resting in its approximate location, not yet attached.


Bulwarks that will become vehicle deck enclosures, and the larger side curtains that also provide rigidity to the hull while supporting the superstructure above the main deck, are being fabricated separately.  They'll be attached in location once the two hull halves are upright.  With hull steelwork easier to complete in the present upside-down configuration, roll-over for the two hull halves has now been pushed back until January 6th.

This shot from overhead makes it appear ship worker is scaling the heights
when, in fact, he's lying on his side, welding an angle stiffener to what
will be the side-curtain for the superstructure.
A designed opening can be seen at right.
Below are two photos taken in the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding machine shop, showing rudder attachments (quadrants) for a bar that will connect the two rudder stocks for steering purposes.
Below that is a photo of the two rudder supports, heavy plates that project both aft and slightly outboard from each shaft centerline, so that propeller shafts can be inserted/removed from the vessel without removal of the rudders.

White cylinders are Thordon rudder bearings machined of a hard ceramic material that will accept and support each rudder's pintle, the lower end of the rudder.  The final photo shows the two rudder stocks of heavy pipe that become the basis for each rudder plane.  Above each rudder are the "palms," flat surfaces bolted together that make removal relatively easy in dry dock, should it be necessary to repair a rudder.

One final note apart from new ferry construction, and one not substantial enough to warrant a separate blog:  the morning ferry today sailed to Gills Rock due to lake seas and surging at the Northport facility.  

This is a a change of pace, certainly, and the second time in the past month when Gills Rock has been used as an outlet.  This move creates confusion for travelers and some difficulties for our crews, too.  Crew must deal with freight delivered to Northport.  Tickets can't be sold at Gills Rock for lack of computer / printer there.   Incoming traffic (without cash) wishing to use credit cards are asked to stop at our Island booth to make transactions AFTER arriving at the Island.  So, it's a bit of a hassle, but only temporary.

Winds had dropped considerably by 10 a.m., with trips resuming to Northport by then.  Later today the storm will have passed, and high pressure will cause an equally strong flow from the N/NW, with gusts predicted to reach 40 mph.  That, too, may slow things down, with the possibility of overpowering winds and seas at Northport.

Robert Noble, with Eric Foss as Captain, returned to the Island
from Gills Rock on the first trip of the morning.  The additional
distance to Gills Rock plus time communicating and waiting for 
cars directed to Gills Rock, adds minutes to the round trip, making
the ferry behind for the subsequent departure.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-  Dick Purinton

Friday, November 22, 2019


Shortly after arriving on the morning ferry on a gloomy day, Icelandic visitors
Thordur Bjarni Gudjonsson and his wife, Jorunn Kristinsdottir, posed for
a photo with Hoyt and Richard Purinton at the ferry dock.

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Last week I received an email from Almar Grimsson, an Icelandic friend (and cousin to Mary Jo) who has visited here several times in the past few years.  He said we might be paid a visit by a couple from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Thordur Gudjonsson is the Icelandic Consul General, an official representative of the Icelandic government, who has been positioned in an area with perhaps the greatest concentration of Icelandic descendants of anywhere in North America.  He and his wife had driven to Minneapolis and would "drop by" for a visit if we could arrange things.   It was a pleasure getting to know them, even though their visit was just for one day.

Their visit comes as plans were being developed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Icelandic settlement on Washington Island in 2020, a date with worthy potential both here and in Iceland, we're hoping to provide the framework for an exchange of citizens.   A contingent from Washington Island plans to visit Iceland in early June, and, in reciprocation, a group from Iceland will visit here in early October, when we will be the hosts.  Almar Grimsson has been my primary contact in planning activities for those occasions.

However, our visit with Thordur and Jorunn was only coincidentally related to our 2020 plans.  In his Consul General role, Thordur travels to many places in Canada and the U. S., primarily to assist in such celebrations or functions that are intended to help preserve Icelandic culture through activities, including language, poetry, music, food, dress and customs practiced by those who immigrated in the late 1800s.

Over 20,000 Icelanders are believed to have emigrated from Iceland over a period of 40 years, starting in 1870 and ending with the onset of WWI.   Among the very first were four young men who traveled from Eyrarbakki to Washington Island (via Milwaukee).  They were soon followed by others, adding to the numbers of pioneer immigrants already living here from other nations.

Explaining our Island's particular heritage, and in describing what those connections might mean for today's Island descendants, was my goal during their one-day visit.  Washington Island's story of Icelandic settlement has been largely overlooked beyond the midwestern United States.  But the story of this little island enclave is a good story, and one worth elevating through documentation.  This is not my opinion alone.  It has also been echoed in recent years by noted Islanders such as  Hannes Andersen, Ted Jessen, Jeanine Ronning and Arni Richter, to name a few.  A challenge is keeping those connections with Washington Island and Iceland fresh and in the forefront of today's Washington Island citizenry, through preservation of history and culture.

Aside from making numerous stops at Island points of interest (and many were closed in this late season), we also stopped at the Island Archives prior to their departure for the ferry and their long drive back to Winnipeg.  Steve Reiss had graciously laid out several early plat maps and photos, and he explained to our guests what might be found within our Washington Island Archives in terms of Icelandic history.  Thordur and Jorunn have each been exposed to similar materials and artifacts during their stay in the Winnipeg and Gimli centers of Icelandic culture.  Gimli is often considered "Little Iceland," one of the first places settled in Canada by those immigrants.  Their visit to our Archives might encourage communication with archival facilities in Canada, enhancing knowledge for each organization.

Archivist Steve Reiss (R) and I posed with Thordur Gudjonsson
with an "pioneer quilt" as backdrop, made by Dee Brown.  
Prominent Island family names and their corresponding decades 
are represented on the quilt. (photo by Jorunn)

This December will bring to a close Thordur's four-year posting as Consul General in Winnipeg.  The couple will prepare to return to Iceland soon after their return to Winnipeg. Thordur will continue his work within the Ministry of Culture in Iceland, until such time as another overseas position is offered.

I encourage anyone interested in traveling to Iceland early next June (2020) to get in touch with me. Or, please read my blog postings of late winter and early spring of this year.  We encourage not only those of Icelandic descent, but anyone with an interest in a cultural exchange, to consider spending two days within their larger vacation block to learn more about Iceland, and to be a representative of Washington Island for this notable, 150th anniversary, occasion!

-  Dick Purinton


Workers at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding tack down a hull plate in the bow.
A heavy weight (yellow cube) is used to coax half-inch plating to lay
tight against the framing.  (Steve Propsom photo)

Shipyard work on new ferry sails along smoothly

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Its always wonderful to report on good news and smooth sailing, and that is the report once again
on the new ferry MADONNA construction project.

Photos taken several days ago by Fincantieri Project Supervisor Steve Propsom show considerable progress since our last report of two weeks ago.

The work schedule has now been adjusted, once again, to promote completion of several simultaneous tasks while the two hull sections remain in the "upside-down" position, according to Ferry Line VP Rich Ellefson. He spends a good share of Monday and Tuesday each week tracking work progress at the Sturgeon Bay ship facility. Steel priming and installation of overhead insulation (above the engine room) are two activities done more easily given the current positioning.  Insulation of a prescribed type and thickness is a U. S. Coast Guard requirement to isolate the car deck from heat should there be an engine room fire, but it will also benefit reduction of machinery noise for passengers.  In winter the insulation can help retain warmth in the machinery spaces overnight, allowing for easier start-up of diesels and the avoidance of frozen piping.

Given these various tasks, by tradesmen from different shops within the shipyard, it was decided by shipyard supervisors that the two hull halves might as well remain inverted and inside the fabrication building, until some time after Christmas.  There, in the relative comfort of the enclosure, work can  continue on several fronts toward the goal of greater production efficiency.
Shown lying on its side is the basic structure of the main deck island, or stairway trunk.
This piece will provide means of access to the upper deck, enclosure for a main deck toilet,
and room for piping and wiring runs, etc.   A second, side-benefit, will be the solid support
such a trunk provides the overhead passenger deck. 

Shown is the starboard engine bed frame (looking aft), fabricated in the upright position.
 suction piping and water lines are already inserted through transverse framing,
inboard of the engine bed.  According to Hoyt Purinton, engine supports must be within

several thousandths of an inch in order to avoid large shims beneath engine mounts.
Because of close tolerances and varied steel thicknesses used, this particular section

was fabricated separate from the two hull halves.  

This shot was taken from the same point of view as several earlier photos
so that visual progress can easily be measured.   A majority of the smaller,
flat bar framing in the bow has already been installed in preparation for shell

plating.  The 1/3 bow and stern hull portions receive 1/2" plating,
as well as the ice-belting, a band roughly several feet wide running the vessel's 
length at the waterline.  Midships section will receive 3/8" hull plating.
-  Dick Purinton

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Madonna hull shape apparent here,
with considerable car deck overhang in the bow the most
apparent feature.
  Since this photo was taken Monday, Nov. 4
by Steve Propsom, 
the first two hull plates were added
midships, in the vicinity of the worker wearing a light green shirt.
(Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding photo)

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Rich Ellefson, Ferry Line VP and Operations Manager, has begun making regular trips to the shipyard to observe construction progress, and to confer with Construction Supervisor Steve Propsom, Seacraft Design Naval Architect Mark Pudlo, and U. S. Coast Guard Marine Inspection Supervisor Sarah Reid.  With the exception of the lead photo all other photos were taken by Rich  November 5.

During the past several weeks a great deal of progress has been made with hull construction.  A second shift, mostly welders, began working on the hull.  When large ship sections for Van Ekenvort Tug and Barge of Bark River, Michigan, were recently moved to the graving dock, surplus manpower was shifted over to the Madonna, for a total of 30 assigned steelworkers.

As more steel is added the number of corners and confinement 
increases.  A welder is shown here between frames.
(Each of following photos taken by Rich Ellefson.)

Piping runs for bilges shown here.  Openings
are looking aft toward engine room.

Piping manifold (in white paint) shown in approximate location on forward
engine room bulkhead.  Open square in foreground minus flatbar stiffeners
will be for openings ("soft patches") cut later, to give engine room access
for engines and  transmissions. Removable patches will be
framed with heavy girders that will carry deck load. 

The forward half of the vessel is coming along nicely.  The bow section, up to the first bulkhead, will soon be ready for visual weld inspection by the Coast Guard.  Once that has been successfully completed, cleaning of welds and seams will be followed by priming.  That general routine will be repeated in the coming weeks, working bow-to-stern, as sections between bulkheads are completed.

Decisions on the order of work are based on the yard supervisor's weekly and daily assessments, him order to keep the project moving steadily ahead, yet allowing the various trades optimum work opportunity without interfering with one another.  As of this date, the completion of the two hull halves could be ready for removal from the building for roll-over by Nov. 27.  Then the joining of the two halves will take place.  This work is estimated to happen during the last week in November and will represent a gain of several weeks in time from the original estimate.

Piping has also begun with runs of two-inch bilge piping and stainless hydraulic lines (for ramp winches), and the placement of the Engine Room manifold.  The piping manifold becomes a junction for bilge and fire piping, and the controlling valves that lead to belowdeck voids and ballast areas.  From that one location, pumps can dewater one or more spaces (or fill a ballast section).

This would be the starboard bow corner (inverted here during construction) 
and the flat rail section, temporarily held in place with tabs and come-along,
later will become the rub rail.  Two C-shaped sections are being 
fabricated to run the entire length of the vessel, continuous
from bow to stern.
 Other ongoing work in preparation for later stages of construction include items such as:

  a) Stainless propellers and shafts are in house at Kahlenberg Bros., Two Rivers, for machining.
  b) Main CAT engines have been received at Fabick, Green Bay, and await the arrival of Twin Disc transmissions later this month.
   c) Northern Lights gensets were recently delivered to Burger Boat, Manitowoc distributor.
   d) A number of plans were submitted to the U. S. Coast Guard Plan Review Office in Washington and await approval;  other prints with detail have either been produced, or will soon be, by Seacraft Design of Sturgeon Bay.  These steps are critical for continuation of the brisk construction pace at Bay Shipbuilding, and for a final product that will meet federal passenger vessel design and construction guidelines.  (Materials, systems and equipment must also meet federal standards.)

-  Dick Purinton

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Inverted starboard aft deck corner shown, with Rich Ellefson standing against
a midbody bulkhead.  Square opening behind him will accommodate ladder
for access to the engine room.

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Following one of our finer fall weekends of 2019, Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th, a strong weather pattern sat over the midwest and brought heavy rain, high winds in excess of 40 kts. from the south-southwest, and pounding seas.  Island docks and waterfronts, even in the generally well protected Detroit Harbor, were awash.   Sea action inside the confines of the Northport Harbor break walls made landing increasingly difficult Monday, with ferries surging hard against the mooring tires.  By 1:00 p.m., the decision was made to lay up until the following day.  The Robert Noble crew made its last run into Gills Rock, seeking better conditions for unloading.

Depth of hull at midships can be seen here
as workers fit and weld bulkheads.
Typical beveled flatbar awaiting fillet weld.

But, inside the snug confines of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding's fabrication shed, construction continued without a hitch.  Photos shown here were taken by Hoyt Purinton on Wednesday morning, October 23, with the shape of the new vessel now more readily seen.  - Dick Purinton

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Before highlighting construction progress on the new ferry Madonna, here are a few photos showing the Island ferry dock earlier this week during a period of strong southerly winds.

The ferry dock scene above has been more commonplace in recent weeks (but fortunately not a daily occurrence).  Recently, it happens only when southerly winds drive up water levels, splashing over the pier.  For those who remember the fall of 1986, we're not far from that all-time recorded high water level.

A drain was installed in the dock surface not far from the orange STOP marker shown, but now that drain is oftentimes lower than the water level.   Heavy rains this fall over the Lake Michigan basin in September and early October have kept water levels high.  As a result, the decline in water levels typically seen this time of year hasn't happened.

Hoyt and Rich placed concrete barriers along the sheet piling bulkhead to block seas breaking along the waterfront earlier this week.  This activity was undertaken during the height of heavy rains and southerly winds in excess of 35 kts., when the grounds along the waterfront were saturated, and tractor tires sank into the sod.

MADONNA progress

Steve Propsom, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding Project Manager, passed along several photos taken recently.  Construction progress is ahead of the estimated schedule by nearly two weeks at this point, due perhaps to good planning and efficient construction methods.  Rollout of the two hull halves could now take place in early December, followed by turnover of each section and return to the shed for unification.

Below are the photos provided to us by Steve.
Large bulkhead (#15, forward of fuel tank) set by overhead crane.

Ship fitters setting a fuel tank bulkhead.

Billy LeMieux, Machine Shop General Foreman, and Rich Ellefson,
Ferry Line VP, examine rudder stocks in the machine shop

 -  Dick Purinton