Thread: Boom Boat
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hmason View Post
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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