Photo gallery: New Shelter Bay ferry taking shape, maiden voyage in May

The new Galena-Shelter Bay ferry, which is scheduled to go for its first test drive at some point in the coming weeks.

The new replacement ferry for the Shelter Bay to Galena Bay route on the Upper Arrow Lake is taking shape

At some point this month, there will be a new sight on the Arrow Lakes. The new Galena-Shelter Bay ferry, which is scheduled to go for its first test drive at some point in the coming weeks.

It was amazing to think that was the case when I took a tour of the ferry last Sunday, Feb 23. near Nakusp The deck was crowded with storage bins, which hold loads of piping waiting to be laid. The bathrooms still needed to be installed and there were no walls in the staff areas.

At the control deck, the windows still needed to be cut out of the metal framing and the glass installed. The control panels weren’t in place either, nor was the ship’s mast, which sat freshly painted in a large building on site.

Down below the deck, big 700-metre spools of wire were stacked together waiting to be installed — adding to the countless of kilometres that had already been laid. Sparks flew as welders worked away. The watertight doors that prevent flooding from one room to the next still needed to be installed. Everything still needed to be painted white.

A pirate flag stood aloft where the mast will be — waiting to be replaced by the B.C. flag when it goes in service.

*** Visit this link for a photo gallery of the tour ***

From my untrained eyes, it looked like there was still lots left to do, but for John Harding, the owner of WaterBridge Steel, the company contracted to build the new ship, these are all details and it will all come together pretty quickly now.

Quick enough that pretty soon the 80-vehicle ferry will be plying the waters around Nakusp on a regular basis as they get everything ready for its maiden voyage on Friday, May 16 — just in time for the first long weekend of summer.

Work on the ferry has been proceeding seven days a week since the summer, except for a 10-day break for Christmas.

I visited the ferry on a Sunday afternoon, when only about 25 employees were on site; on a busy weekday there are 50 workers — a mix of electricians, mechanics, welders, pipe fitters and more. They work 10 days straight, enjoy four days off, and then get back to it. Unless you’re John Harding, in which case days off are a luxury — as is time to go see your family in Prince George.

The ferry has come a long way since July, when the hull was launched. Since then the superstructure has been built on top of the vessel’s deck and almost all the mechanical and electrical work has been done. The two giant engines that operate the propeller units that drive the ship have been installed; one at each end of the ferry. They’re both functional, Harding told me.

The tour started in the old mill building that was transformed into a giant shop space. Four massive steel wedges lay on sliding platforms, awaiting transportation to the Shelter Bay and Galena Bay landings, where they will replace the existing ramps. Four more smaller ones still need to be constructed.

On the ferry, the deck has been turned into a makeshift storage space, dominated by a crane that sits in the middle. Harding showed me the various rooms that will turn into bathrooms and storage space. He pointed out the giant mufflers that extend from the engine rooms below to about four metres above the deck.

We walked inside the crew quarters, where a small kitchen space and sitting area will be set up. The crew will be able to enjoy their meals while gazing out at the view, but for now the windows were boarded up.

We walked to the upper level where the control room will be. Right now it was just an empty, windowless shell. A welder was up there getting ready to begin cutting out the window frames. The control panel still needed to be installed. It will be pretty simple for the captain once it’s in place — face one way when heading to Shelter Bay, then turn around and steer the ship back to Galena Bay.

The real interesting part of the tour was below deck — an area most people will never see. Here, rows and rows of cables extended from control panels in the electrical room and ran through the ceiling, spreading like tentacles throughout the ship.

How many miles of wiring are on the ship, Harding asked an electrician.

The best he could do was guess. Each spool contained 700 metres of wire and there were several of them sitting around. The wires ran all over the ship and up to the control room four stories above. There was a dozen cables lying side-by-side, and that was just directly above us.

We walked into one of the engine rooms, where a water-tight door lay on the ground waiting to be installed. The engine was in place and working; pipes that transfer heat from the engine throughout the ship were being insulated. One more room down lay the propeller motor. It was a similar sight at the other end of the ship, where a second engine was installed.

The spaces were cramped, with piping snaking around the rooms. “Watch your feet,” I was warned, as I scrambled over some chains lying on the ground. Harding pointed out escape hatches that led to the deck above for crews to use to get out of danger.

With launch day approaching, inspectors have been visiting the new ferry on a regular basis. That will be the case for the next few months until the ferry does its first run on May 16. Until then, the ferry will be taken up and down the lake for test drives and the crew will be trained. Most systems are automated and crew levels will remain the same with the new ferry as with the old ones, Harding told me.

Starting in April they’ll begin training the crews on the new boat. It will be painted white and the pirate flag that adorns the ship will be replaced with a B.C. flag.

On May 16, the new landing decks will be put in place and the ferry service is expected to make a seamless transition from the old to the new.

There’s no ribbon cutting planned, yet.

 

Just Posted

Stories Beneath the Surface exhibition now open at Revelstoke Museum

Revelstoke Museum and Archives opened a new exhibition on Oct. 18, 2018… Continue reading

Live results for the Revelstoke municipal election

Watch here and on Facebook for live results

A lifetime in education

Revelstoke’s Jeff Nicholson is retiring after 28 years

Revelstoke Grizzlies win 11th straight game

The Forum was packed on Saturday night

Preliminary inquiry for Sagmoen begins in Vernon

Sagmoen, whose charges were split into three separate matters, has been in custody since Oct. 2017

Revelstoke Cribs: Eagle Pass Lodge

Explore the eclectic houses, lodges and other spaces in and around Revelstoke… Continue reading

Interior Health urges public to get a flu shot

Health authority says it will help to stop the spread of influenza

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Category 5 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometres) from the storm’s centre

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

UPDATE: American rapper killed in skydiving accident

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

Most Read