The new ferry hull built by WaterBridge Steel in Nakusp is now in the water, after a very small snag during the launch. What initially looked like it was going to be a smooth launch for the new boat turned into a one-inch problem that took a day to resolve.
Locals, employees and Ministry representatives watched as the black hull held by a metal grid was pushed by two machines down a series of rails into the water. The first attempt looked good, with the descent looking slow and steady, with a very small ridge of water being pushed up by the steel.
But shortly after the push, the hull in its rigging stopped, and after another attempt, divers were sent in as part of the next effort to coax the million-pound plus steel hull into the water. Two tugs, attached by thick blue rope and a cat attached with cable pulled again, and the ferry reached the water. But not quite deep enough.
The lake level had already dropped an inch too far, WaterBridge Steel owner/operator John Harding told the Arrow Lakes news. Hydro had started dropping the lake level this morning, and by the time the hull hit the water, the water was one inch too low to allow the ferry to float out of its steel mooring.
Harding was philosophical about water levels, saying that Hydro’s “hands are pretty much tied.”
“They’ve got a job to do to meet American demands and produce energy,” he said. “They did cooperate with us and we appreciate that.”
With some innovative thinking, the one-inch problem was solved.
“We eventually pulled it off the grid,” said a tired by pleased Harding, who recruited the Shelter Bay ferry to help the two tugs manoeuvre the hull over its one-inch hump and into the water, with no damage to the beautiful black paint on the hull. “Everyone did a great job. We’ve got a great crew here.”
Harding told the Arrow Lakes news that phase two is now beginning, which includes mechanical and electrical construction on the ferry.
“There are no days off now until Christmas,” he said. Once construction is complete, sea trials should be finished in February, and after that training of crew will begin, said Harding.
But WaterBridge is hoping this will be the beginning, not the end of shipbuilding in Nakusp.
“We’re working with ministry to try to establish a shipyard here,” Harding told the Arrow Lakes News, saying the benefits were obvious.