Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Watch Out For That Tree!

First of all, yesterday the welder came down and did a quick fix on the broken roller plate. The whole setup with the rollers was our made up invention anyway, and was never engineered or anything. The boss came down and with the welder, came up with a better plan that we'll have to manufacture. It'll take a few months, but the quick fix weld should hopefully last that long.

So today was just a typical boring day until I just so happened to hit a tree. Yeah. I hit a tree with the boat, in the middle of the river.

My cousin had come down (he of the previous links to pictures of turdles and rainbows coming out of his butt. There's also the whole underwear made from beef jerky thing...) to hang out on his lunch break. He works in Albany, and it's a quick 15 minutes on back roads up to the ferry. We were hanging out in the cabin gossiping, with rare bits of traffic, since it was around 1, after the lunch "rush."

There were two cars on board and we were mid-river heading east, when suddenly my cousin says, "whoa what's that?" I turn to look, just as I see a bunch of branches crunch into the apron. I throw the boat into reverse and then cut the engines completely, so the props wouldn't get beat up. It seems like most of the tree stayed forward of the boat, mostly rolling under the apron (which juts out over the water).

The next concern, and a big one, was the low water line (LWL). If you remember from my last post, this is the cable that sits downstream and underwater. A tree with a big root ball and a bunch of branches could snag in the LWL really bad. The tension on the line from the tree could snap the LWL, or the tree could get hung up, which means we wouldn't be able to operate until we got a chainsaw down to the boat to cut the tree up. Amazingly, none of that happened. The tree hung onto the LWL for awhile, then slowly the whole thing rotated and rolled under the line, root ball, branches and all. It was pretty amazing.

The passengers in the two cars were super surprised and a bit stunned. Once I was sure the tree was totally out of the way, we continued on our merry way completely unharmed.

The tree stuck on a gravel bar at the start of some very small rapids, only about 30 yards downstream of the ferry.

I doubt it'll stay there long, water levels are projected to rise sharply next week, which should free the tree and send it downstream, so it can wreck havoc on someone else. I feel like I really escaped a potentially awful situation. Worst case, to me, would have been if the tree had become stuck. I would have had to take the boat back to the west landing, back the cars off, give them back their money, and call in that the boat was stuck. Ugh. I really don't want something like that to happen on my shift!

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