Juneau’s Docks and Harbors Department got a new piece of equipment last week, but it’ll probably be another three months before it’s fully operational.
The hydraulic boat lift is capable of hoisting vessels up to 45-tons and 65-feet in length out of the water. It arrived at the Auke Bay Commercial Loading Facility on Friday, and is already attracting attention from passersby.
Juneau Port Director Carl Uchytil says it looks like a big blue forklift. But the forks feature inflatable bumpers that are easier on a boat’s hull.
“We picked this model because of the number of wooden hulled vessels that we think we’ll be hauling out,” Uchytil says. “Many of the wooden fishing boats we have are 50-60 years old. So we thought this was the best device for the Juneau commercial fishermen.”
Uchytil says Docks and Harbors staff will be trained to use the lift by employees of the manufacturer — Sea-Lift of Bellingham, Washington.
But it won’t be used in earnest until October. That’s because it can’t lift boats out of the water until a wash down area is built at the commercial loading facility.
“Department of Environmental Conservation has very strict water collection rules,” Uchytil says. “We need to collect the water that we use to pressure wash off the hulls. So, whatever contaminants that were on the hull, we would collect and ensure that that doesn’t get in the waterway.”
The lift cost $750,000 dollars and was paid for with a part of $3.6-million TIGER grant the city received as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus act.
Docks and Harbors has requested $1.3-million from a proposed extension of the city’s temporary 1-percent sales tax, which would allow the lift to be used at Statter Harbor in addition to the loading facility.