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