MOTORING ACROSS THE PUGET Sound, Reenst Lesemann spots a yellow, barnacle-encrusted contraption bobbing on the wind-whipped waters off Seattle. Called the SeaRay, it’s the prototype of a device that Lesemann’s startup, ColumbiaPower Technologies, is betting can help transform wave energy from a long-running science experiment into the next renewable energy bonanza. “I have never seen a multibillion-dollar market where the customers are literally waiting on the technology,” says Lesemann, a former venture capitalist.
[The Swinomish Channel would have become impassable as early as 2015 without dredging, a study found.]
The Swinomish Channel will get the dredging it needs to avoid becoming impassable, thanks to almost $2.3 million in federal funding allocated for the work.
The channel was expected to silt over by 2015 without dredging, putting hundreds of jobs at risk and making it inaccessible to thousands of boaters who use it annually to get to and from the San Juan and Gulf islands.
But funding for the dredging was included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ work plan for 2012, which was provided to Congress this week. That was welcome news to Patsy Martin, executive director of the Port of Skagit.
“The Swinomish Channel is a vital inland marine waterway for this region,” she said. “Over 500 jobs depend directly on that waterway as a transportation corridor. It must be maintained.”
SEATTLE — A 78-year-old man injured in a boat explosion at Sequim’s John Bay Marina on Feb. 7 has died in the intensive-care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Keith Bryant’s condition had been upgraded from critical to serious condition last week at the advanced care center, but he suffered a setback and died Wednesday night, according to the hospital.
“It appears that he has died as a result of injuries sustained in the explosion,” Sequim Police Detective Sgt. Sean Madison said Thursday.
The state is talking about cuts in the neighborhood of 40 percent. But would such drastic cuts really happen?
C.B. Hall has the story at Crosscut:
If the world were flat, one might assume that Washington’s ferry system is about to sail off its edge. Recent pronouncements from Washington State Transportation secretary Paula Hammond and assistant secretary David Moseley have forecast a severe downsizing of Washington State Ferries (WSF) if prevailing financial assumptions hold true and the Legislature can’t come up with quite a few more dimes for the system’s tin cup.
History and political reality might suggest a less drastic future for the ferry system. But the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) leadership has started the discussion in stark terms.
In a presentation to Senate and House transportation committees at the start of the current legislative session, Hammond concluded that, absent new revenues, the system would have to eliminate six of its 11 routes altogether — Anacortes-Sidney, Port Townsend-Keystone, Seattle-Bremerton, Southworth-Fauntleroy, Southworth-Vashon, and Point Defiance-Tahlequah. Two other routes would see service cutbacks. A motorist from Southworth would have to go to Seattle to catch a ferry to Vashon, while a driver heading from Port Townsend to Oak Harbor would have to detour through Kingston and Edmonds. About a third of the 23-vessel fleet would go into mothballs, and the state would shutter six terminals.
The Coast Guard rescued a man from a 35-foot sailboat in Nisqually Reach, northeast of Olympia, on Tuesday night.
The man was onboard a sailboat named Four of Us and made a mayday call just after 7:30 p.m., reporting that the boat had either ran aground or was taking on water. He was unsure of his location, and the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from its Port Angeles station to find him.
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. — Hydrophones near Washington’s San Juan Islands have picked up dozens of sonar pings, raising worries the noise could harm marine mammals.
The coordinator of the Salish Sea hydrophone network, Scott Veirs, says at least 82 mid-frequency sonar pings were recorded early Monday. He says one observer found a Canadian navy vessel entering Haro Strait as she heard pings on the hydrophone located at nearby Friday Harbor, Wash.
[Jeff Monroe, left, owner of Monroe House Moving of Carlsborg, orchestrates the move of a 400,000-pound floating home Tuesday night at the Port of Port Townsend boat yard. The home, which was moved about 20 feet toward a launch in Port Townsend Bay, was built by Port Townsend’s Little & Little Construction at the yard and will be towed to Lake Union as soon as weather allows. -- Photo by Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daily News]
PORT TOWNSEND — The launch of a two-story floating home, the first built by Port Townsend’s Little & Little Construction, became a major spectator event Tuesday night as the crew of Monroe House Moving struggled to get the 400,000-pound structure more than 20 feet toward the shore of Port Townsend Bay at low tide.
Work to wench and push the building, destined for Lake Union in Seattle, into the bay using a heavy-duty crane truck and small tractors was suspended at about 8 p.m. Tuesday until later Wednesday afternoon so the structure’s launch could be timed with the outgoing tide.
Use this link to see the video]]>
On newstands now! Or you can click over to Richard’s BitterEnd blog and read it there.]]>
[Part of the deck of a explosion-shattered 38-foot boat is lifted from the bottom of John Wayne Marina on Thursday during a dive and salvage operation involving a crane barge, which was contracted by the Port of Port Angeles. --Photo by Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daily News]
SEQUIM — A Sequim man injured in the Tuesday night explosion that destroyed his boat at John Wayne Marina remained in critical condition Thursday as a Port of Port Angeles-hired dive-and-salvage crew brought in a crane barge to lift large pieces of the shattered deck and hull from the bottom of the bay.
Keith Bryant, 78, who received burns, shrapnel wounds and bone injuries, was recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
He was installing a new 15-gallon propane tank when the blast occurred aboard his 38-foot William Garden-design wood diesel yacht Escale, sending debris around the marina and damaging adjacent boats, port and Clallam County fire district officials said.
“With any luck, they’ll pick up the big pieces with the crane today,” said marina Harbormaster Ron Amundson, who oversaw the cleanup under way Thursday morning.
[Roeun Chin with Marine Floats of Tacoma works on the new Manchester dock on Friday. (LARRY STEAGALL/ KITSAP SUN photo)]
MANCHESTER — Replacement of the south dock on the Manchester waterfront went off Friday without a hitch and in jig time.
Marine Floats of Tacoma, the company contracted for the job, hauled the new dock by tug to Manchester on Thursday night and tied it up to the Port of Manchester’s north dock. The 220-foot structure was manufactured at their Tacoma facility.
Crews made the swap early Friday morning and spent the rest of the day attaching the new dock to pilings. The old dock was hauled away and will be dismantled, said David Wilkie, job supervisor.
MIKE SIEGEL has this great photo in THE SEATTLE TIMES:
Workmen are dwarfed by the Navy destroyer in dry dock as they put the finishing touches on its seven-month restoration. The Shoup will be relaunched this week and leave for its home port in Everett.
See the entire photo gallery here.]]>
Plans for a Port Townsend-to-Seattle passenger ferry are still in the paperwork phase, but the Port of Port Townsend is looking to make the plans more appealing to locals.
“The commissioners gave permission to buy a used boat, or lease a boat,” said Jim Pivarnik, port deputy director, who referenced some public backlash to the idea of building a million-dollar boat.
The Port of Port Townsend Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to allow the port to lease a boat or buy a used boat on Jan. 25.
“Staff is high on the idea of leasing the boat. So we can try it for a few years and see how it goes and see if there is enough support,” Pivarnik said. “I am not saying it’s going to fail, but there are a lot of nay-sayers.”
The Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard will be closed during the day next Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 6 and 7.
The locks will be closed to all vessel traffic from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, but will remain open between 6 p.m. Feb. 6 and 8 a.m. the following morning, when they will close again until 6 p.m.
The closure is needed so erosion of the small lock wall can be repaired. Water has gradually eroded an area of the wall, causing a scour, or small ditch. The scour was detected by a sonar survey in 2009, and a subsequent dive inspection also revealed a void under the small lock foundation.
The Suquamish Tribe’s shellfish coordinator Luke Kelly pulls out the whale’s baleen plates to dry on the deck of the tribe’s barge.
The Suquamish Tribe recently pulled up a net full of bones of a gray whale from Agate Pass, with hopes of rebuilding the skeleton for educational purposes.
The tribe acquired the remains of the juvenile whale in July 2011 after the mammal beached itself and died near Silverdale. After biologists gathered tissue samples, the tribe wrapped the whale in net material and towed it to Agate Pass to let it naturally decompose.
While the soft tissue had completely decomposed, many of the bones were found to be broken or too brittle to use, including the skull, which was partially crushed by the weight of the rest of the bones.
Washington wildlife officials say eight sea lions have been found dead in the Puget Sound region in recent weeks – all apparently shot.
KING-TV reports (http://is.gd/s1aYqA) that both the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are investigating the deaths.
The bodies of seven sea lions with bullet wounds were recently found on the Nisqually River.
On Monday, a sea lion was found dead on West Seattle’s Lincoln Park beach. The animal protection group Seal Sitters says a necropsy showed that the sea lion had suffered a shark bite and had twisted intestines in addition to a bullet wound.
SEATTLE — Federal biologists plan next month to attach tiny satellite devices on Puget Sound’s endangered orcas off the West Coast to better understand where they go during winter. But some whale experts worry the tags – about the size of a 9-volt battery with two darts – could injure the orcas.
While dart tags have been used on other whale species, this is the first time they would be used on the southern resident killer whales that frequent the inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia.
Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service in Seattle, and his colleagues received federal approval last month to implant the transmitters on the dorsal fins of up to six orcas.
The orcas spend summer months in Puget Sound, but "that’s only half the story," Hanson said, adding "we don’t know where they spend the bulk of their time."
[K.Wilkinson / NOAA: A ribbon seal is seen Friday on a dock in Marysville.]
SEATTLE — A ribbon seal commonly found in the frigid waters off the coasts of Alaska and Russia has been spotted twice in the Seattle area.
It’s quite unusual to observe the animals this far south, said Peter Boveng, leader of the polar ecosystem program with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, part of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. "There are not many people who see these regularly."
[Despite being evicted, the Kalakala remains moored next to a concrete plant on Tacoma's Hylebos Waterway.]
If the Kalakala sinks at its moorings in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway as it is likely to, it will cause an economic disaster totaling millions of dollars in losses monthly and unemployment for more than 1,000 workers.
Those are the dire conclusions of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, which are working together on an emergency plan for the decrepit 1926 ferry.
If the Kalakala sinks it would block the Hylebos, a busy commercial waterway, resulting in an estimated $8 million to $23 million monthly in income and employment losses for local companies, and temporary unemployment for 1,000 to 1,300 workers, Corps Spokesman William Dowell said.
Removal of a sunken Kalakala would take up to five months and cost more than $7.8 million, according to Army Corps estimates. Even if doesn’t sink, removal costs would likely be around $4 million. That’s money the Corps doesn’t have, Dowell said. It would have to be diverted from other possible projects, such as a much-needed dredging of the Swinomish Channel in northwest Washington.
“At this point, there’s no money to do this,” he said. “You’re talking about taking money away from other projects that are necessary (in order to) take care of this thing.”
The Port of Tacoma’s dominant business eked out an increase last year, new statistics show, but that business volume remains far below its pre-recession highs.
The port’s terminals handled 1,488,799 cargo container units last year, figures released by the port this week show. That’s 2.3 percent above the 1,455,466 the port saw in 2010.
The port’s container business had fallen every year since 2006, when the port handled 2,067,185 container units. The business bottomed out in 2010.
The port’s higher container volume still falls substantially short of that of its Puget Sound rival, the Port of Seattle. Seattle reported this month 2.03 million container units passed over its docks last year. That’s a 5 percent decrease from last year.
PORT ANGELES — Port of Port Angeles commissioners agreed Monday to a 30-year lease with the new owners of Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the MV Coho vehicle ferry, for its terminal on the Port Angeles waterfront.
The lease provides for the possible purchase of the facilities, as well as solidifies arrangements for a $4 million dock replacement for the terminal at the foot of Laurel Street.
Commissioners expressed relief that the ferry line — which operates the 1,000-passenger MV Coho as it plies the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Angeles and Victoria — is again under regional ownership, putting to rest any concerns that the ferry could be transferred to another area by its former owner, the Oregon State University Foundation.
“I feel extremely comfortable having a local ownership group,” said Commissioner John Calhoun.
“It’s a vital part of our community’s infrastructure,” Calhoun said.