Wrangell’s new boat lift hauled its first vessel out of the water over the weekend.
Harbormaster Greg Meissner says the honors went to the St. Jude, a 98-foot fish-packer out of Ketchikan.
“The gentleman we’re pulling out just showed up in Wrangell. He’s been chomping at the bit and working with us and trying to adjust his schedule to get hauled out. So he’s happy he’s coming out of the water. He’ll do some work on the boat and get it out when the season starts,” Meissner says.
The 300-ton lift is the biggest in Southeast and one of the largest in Alaska. Wrangell also operates a 150-ton lift.
Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch says the lifts are part of the development of the community’s Marine Service Center. He expects it to support local vessel-owners, as well as out-of-towners.
“I know there’s boats around Southeast that have to go a long ways to get pulled out of the water to do just some general bottom maintenance and other things – new zincs and bottom paint and that kind of thing,” Jabusch says.
The lift was built by the Italian company Ascom and cost about $1.3 million. Jabusch says it’s part of a larger project mostly funded by a legislative grant.
Harbormaster Meissner says some of the funds were used to improved the new lift’s support structure.
“The dock was built to hold a 200-ton machine in its payload. So we had to go in and strengthen the dock to handle the payload, plus the weight of a 300-ton machine,” he says.
Wrangell officials hoped to have the lift up and running sooner. But it faced delays.
A competing company, Marine Travelift, challenged the city’s contract award. Then, a shipping company sent it to the wrong place.
“They brought it across on a ship to Tacoma. And they took it from Tacoma to Seattle and inadvertently took it to the barge that went to Anchorage. And since nothing on it said ‘Wrangell’ at the time, off to Anchorage it went. So it took a two-week detour on the way to Wrangell,” he says.
Meissner says the municipality did not pay for the extra shipping.