A Few Small Repairs...

-- by Tryon Wells

Sycamore Islander, August 2003

The ferry's been sinking. At the bow end, water has been getting into the front compartment and making the easy task of ferrying into a struggle.

At the spring Workfest, we tried some epoxy on the open gash at the front of the left pontoon but it soon succumbed in the following weeks to being bashed time and again into the steps at the Maryland landing. So, in mid-July, John Matthews, David Winer and I coordinated with caretaker Joe to walk the ferry down to the canoe dock and put the front half of the ferry on it (a valuable trick first discovered at the spring workfest). Easier to do with six or eight people, we four eventually managed to hoist the beast into place, one pontoon at a time.

Then it was time to suck out all that river water in the front compartment. Joe fed the small tube into the first of three pontoon access holes while I attached a little drill pump to an electric drill. Moments later, river water was gushing forth and the front compartments of the pontoons were free of water (we assumed the other compartments were fine).

David Winer then stepped up and mixed up a batch of Marine-Tex -- a super epoxy that is in use in many marine environments. After carefully cleaning the cracked stems on the pontoons, Joe forced the mixture into all cracks and suspicious openings. He then reinforced the leading edge with fiberglass, and smeared a coating of the black super goop over that. We left the ferry on its "dry dock" to sit for a day.

Only time will tell if this fix will keep the ferry afloat. But right on the heels of his successful design for a sturdy plank at the end of the ferry, John Matthews is further designing a protective railing for the pontoons. We look forward to the result. [N.B. John Matthew's proposal for a protective railing will be in the September issue of the Islander.]