Friday, December 30, 2011

The boat is closed!

Wednesday was a pretty stressful day on the river. Over the course of the day, the river climbed over 2 feet. Which is really unusual, and pretty hairy to deal with. The low water line (LWL or just called the cable), which is the cable that runs underwater and is attached to the boat, is attached to each shore and tied to each shore. The places where it's secured to land is way up at the top of the ramp. Then the cable runs through a channel on the side of the ramp, and is basically clamped to a ring down near the water line. In this pic, from awhile ago, you can see the channel on the left. The lwl runs down that.

When the river goes up and down, we have to move the clamp (we use a clevis, which looks like this) up and down. It affects how the boat lands, and also, you don't want to wait too long and have the clevis underwater. Cause it's cold and you don't want to deal with that.

Previously, I've never had to move a clevis up or down a ring more than twice in one day. And that was a pretty active river day. Well, on Wednesday, I moved the clevis up 4 rings. It sort of blew my mind. And then when I left, to anticipate the overnight rise, I raised it an additional 3 rings.

Thursday morning, I got a text for my coworker that said, "Thanks for trying, everything was underwater! And the lwl broke too." I moved the clevis up 7 rings in one day and it was still underwater?!!? Holy Crap! The river went up 5 feet overnight, and there was no end in sight! The lwl breaking is a super pain. As the river goes up, you let out more cable. The force of the water pushes the cable (and the boat) further downstream as I navigate across. The cable gets way too tight, and it's not uncommon for it to snap either just from the force of the river, or from a tree getting snagged and tugging on it. I let out more cable than I ever have before, but even that wasn't enough. It's crazy.

I spoke with the boss this morning, and he said he hasn't seen the river rise like this since the '96 flood. Which is terrifying. If you weren't in the Willamette Valley during the '96 flood, let me just tell you, it was massive. I walked through waist high water with my mom to check on my grandma's mobile home (the water was about an inch from the front door). Whole parts of Keizer were flooded. It was insane. So it's terrifying to hear this river to that one, even though the water shouldn't go up that high, nor should it last that long.

The ferry closed yesterday around mid-day, and the WL ferry closed yesterday around 4 pm. When the boats are closed, you can either take vacation time, or have shop days. Timing is pretty excellent for the river to close. I'm taking Sunday, which is New Years Day, as a holiday. On Monday, I'll use my Commissioner's day, a floating year end holiday.  It sounds like we may re-open the WL on Tuesday, so I'll head up there around 7 or 8 and help reopen the boat, all stuff I've never done. Evidently a lot of things are disconnected from the ferry when it's closed for high water. And I'll have a shop day on Wednesday. I think I can devise enough paperwork to do for the boss that'll keep me busy for several days.

No clue how long the BV will be closed. Hopefully not too long, but the 10 day river forecast shows the river at least above 15 feet the whole time. Welcome to winter on the river!

1 comment:

  1. Jenny, I am enjoying hearing about the workings of the ferries. You have a great blog. Maybe you will be able to go to knitting this Saturday.