Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Charters highlight need to accommodate larger boats


March 5, 2020 | View PDF

Does it make sense to take action to allow larger vessels to tie up more easily in the Small Boat Harbor? Port and Harbor Advisory Committee (PHAC) members considered this question at a meeting last week.

Since the Alaska Marine Highway System’s last mainliner broke down in late January, Haines has received multiple visits from chartered Allen Marine vessels filling in for ferry service. Most recently, Haines Borough chartered vessels on Feb. 23 and 29 to transport residents to and from Juneau.

When the vessels docked in Haines, they had to tie up to the seaplane float, harbormaster Shawn Bell said. “It works, but it’s not ideal.” He said Haines has demand for a place where vessels the size of the Allen Marine charters can tie up safely, citing the crabbing vessels that have come to town. He said demand increases in the summer.

A larger vessel places much more strain on tie-up cleats than a seaplane in rough waters, PHAC chair Terry Pardee said. “What we have now is not a permanent solution.”

While proposals to put a drive-down work float in the Small Boat Harbor capable of accommodating larger vessels could address the need, a new work float would cost millions. PHAC members discussed more short-term solutions like replacing the cleats at the floatplane dock to accommodate more strain and requiring vessels to drop anchor to lighten their load.

Bell said he didn’t know whether the dock was structured in a way to allow for the installation of bigger cleats. He said he would research the possibility of a standalone float that could be used to lengthen moorage space and accommodate beefier vessels. Such a float would be relatively cheap, he said, costing roughly $50,000. That would still be a relatively hefty ask from the borough’s depleted enterprise fund, he said.

At press time, Bell said he needs to research potential float options before taking any next steps.

The Port and Harbor Advisory Committee will meet next on March 26.


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