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Old 07-03-2015, 03:43 PM   #1
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Boom Boat

During the process of gathering information on Minstrel Island for my current writing project we stopped in at the town of Sayward on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island on our drive up to Telegraph Cove. The harbor is called Kelsey Bay and it was the southern terminus of the Prince Rupert-Vancouver Island ferry run until the terminal was moved farther north to Port Hardy. When I and my friend took this ferry with my Land Rover in 1977, we came here.

The terminal is long gone but the harbor is still an active logging site with a dry-land sort yard and log raft building operation. A boom boat was busy in the harbor and I shot these photos. The choppy water in the background is the infamous Johnstone Strait.

Boom boats have fascinated me ever since I saw my first one in action and I've always wanted to learn to drive one. During our trip I talked to one of the operators and he said that when we come up next year he'll let me ride with one of his drivers and take a shot at it. We'll see what happens......

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Old 07-03-2015, 04:05 PM   #2
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They also call them "Dozer Boats." They always look like they are going to tip over, but they don't.
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:06 PM   #3
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Hmmmm... Interesting little workhorses. Maybe someone here on TF could mass produce them and market them as 'Boom Trawlers".
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:25 PM   #4
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What do they do? Push the logs? Never seen anything like that.
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:33 PM   #5
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Kinda reminds me of a dodgem/bumper car on steroids.
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:45 PM   #6
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Log-handling boats can be as simple as a small open boat with outboard as can be barely seen at the base of the loading chute in this photo taken at a log mill on Vancouver Island. The craft moves logs to the chute.


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Old 07-03-2015, 09:22 PM   #7
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Greetings,
Hmmm....Boom boat with a boom box in which case the pilothouse would then become the Boom Boom room...

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Old 07-03-2015, 09:34 PM   #8
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What do they do? Push the logs? Never seen anything like that.

Boom boats are used to make up log rafts which are then towed by tugs to the mills. They used to actually sort the logs in the water, too, but this proved to be much less efficient than sorting on land plus a fair number of logs "escaped" the sorting process and wandered off to become deadheads and sink boats and stuff.

So now almost all sorting is done on land and then the bundles of sorted logs are slid down a steel ramp into the water where the boom boats make them up into rafts, some of them a half a mile long. These are then towed from the logging areas to the mills farther south along the coast.

Dry land sorting is almost as impressive an operation to watch as the raft makeup. Here are some photos of just a small part of the huge dry sort yard in Beaver Cove on Vancouver Island near where we go fishing. This is the last railroad logging show left in Canada, and I believe all of North America.

The machine is picking up carloads of raw logs and carrying them to the sorting racks. When a bundle of sorted logs is ready to go a scaler (person) calculates the board feet and then another giant machine trundles in and automatically wraps the bundle in steel bands. Then the bundle is picked up by the same machines that unload the trains and is carried to the ramp and slid down into the water where the boom boats push them into position for the next raft. So the log raft, which appears to be a single layer of logs, is actually made up of bundles. Most of each bundle is below the surface.

I learned this summer that the sorting here used to be done in the water and the railroad cars were pushed onto a long trestle and their loads dumped directly into the water. A company town sat where the dry sort yard is today. When the logging company decided to switch to dry sorting, they offered to move the people in the town to company housing in nearby Port McNeil or pay them something toward buying a house of their own. When everybody had moved out they bulldozed the town and turned the site into the dry sort yard that's here today.

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Old 07-04-2015, 01:28 AM   #9
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I just spent half an hour watching YouTube videos of these goofy little clown boats. Neat!

https://youtu.be/CBhslev-SNA
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Old 07-04-2015, 02:59 AM   #10
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Thanks Marin. I'd never scene those before. Neat little boats.
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Old 07-04-2015, 03:28 AM   #11
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Thanks Marin. I'd never scene those before. Neat little boats.
They are extremely maneuverable and very fast. At Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC they had a logging exhibition set up next to False Creek. They had loggers demonstrate all sorts of things including a demo of "hot saws" which are something amazing to see.

They brought in six (iirc) of the best boom boat drivers in BC and they had a well-known choreographer design a "Boom Boat Ballet" which was performed every hour or so out on the water in front of the stands. It was set to a classical ballet tune and the boats were decorated up with flags and streamers and whatnot. It was sort of like watching a line dance as the boats bobbed and rocked and spun around and doe-see-doed in unison. It sounds corny but it was very cool to watch.

After the show we saw I went down on the dock where they kept the boats and talked to one of the drivers for quite awhile. He showed me how the boat worked and said that the ballet was the hardest thing any of them had done because they had to bob backwards and forwards and roll way over back and forth and spin all in unison. They could hear the music but even though the boats were identical each one responded a little differently.

Watching them work on the booming grounds is fascinating, too, as they zip around butting log bundels or individual logs into place. At Sayward one of the things the guy did with his boat was slide a huge log up on top of and across a raft of logs. He butted the log up against the raft and then started bouncing his boat on the end of the log. Eventually he got it pitching enough to get the other end to come out of the water higher than the outside log on the raft. Timing it just right, he gave the log another big bounce and as the other end came up out of the water he spun his boat and slammed his end of the log with his stern quarter. The other end slid up onto the raft and the driver spun his boat again and pushed the log fast up onto the raft so it was lying on top and across the logs. All in a fraction of the time it took me to type this.
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Old 07-04-2015, 05:48 AM   #12
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Thanks Marin,

Can I use a couple of your images for my Dictionary of Nautical Terms?

Stu
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Old 07-04-2015, 07:15 AM   #13
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I could have used one of those guys to clear out all of the amateurs from the cove I was anchored in yesterday. It went from three boats to about 100 due to a fireworks show. The little breeze moving across the lake made it a challenge for some to set their anchor. Was comical until one got too close for comfort.
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Old 07-04-2015, 10:39 AM   #14
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Thanks Marin,

Can I use a couple of your images for my Dictionary of Nautical Terms?

Stu
if you like, sure. I'd ask that you credit the photos to me as I own the copyright.
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Old 07-04-2015, 10:49 AM   #15
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That looks like a blast.
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Old 07-04-2015, 12:15 PM   #16
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Are they trawlers?
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Old 07-04-2015, 12:44 PM   #17
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Thanks Marin,

I'd gladly add credits. Marin the guru on trawlerforum?
PM your particulars if you would.

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Old 07-04-2015, 12:59 PM   #18
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Thanks Marin,

I'd gladly add credits. Marin the guru on trawlerforum?
PM your particulars if you would.

Stu
I have PM turned off. Just put Photo C. Marin Faure.
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Old 07-04-2015, 01:05 PM   #19
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For those interested in this kind of thing, here are a few more shots of the sorting operations in Beaver Cove.

First shot gives a sense of the scale of the operation.
Second shot is the banding machine.
Third shot is a bundle of sorted logs coming off the ramp.
The rest of the shots are the boom boat operations.

The last shot shows how these small but very powerful boats (diesel) will almost completely submerge their hulls sometimes depending on what they're pushing and the angle at which they're pushing it.

The other thing that's impressive is how fast the whole operation is. The huge log carriers are zooming and booming around the yard, the sorting machines are slinging logs from one pile to another, the bander wraps up a bundle in less than a minute, and the boom boats zip around like bees. And periodically a big tug shows up and hauls a huge raft out of the cove and off down Johnstone Strait.
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Old 07-04-2015, 03:04 PM   #20
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That looks like a blast.

Sure to be the next 'must have' toy for the mega yacht crowd.
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