Fishing vessels use drive-down float at Ketchikan harbor

AP Photo/Hall Anderson/Ketchikan Daily News

KETCHIKAN (AP) — The City of Ketchikan’s new drive-down float at Bar Harbor has seen steady use since opening on June 17.

“It’s been busy down there,” said city Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon.

That certainly was evident on the afternoon of July 9, when boats lining the sturdy float included a seiner, a gillnetter and a commercial diving vessel.

A crewmember of the gillnetter Njord was busy cleaning brailer bags as crew members of the seiner Quetzal walked the 48-feet by 120-feet float to head up the drive-down ramp.

“It’s really nice,” said Quetzal skipper Steve Good when asked about the new facility, “It’s a very nice change — a nice addition to the town.”

Commercial fishermen had long advocated for a drive-down float in Ketchikan.

In the end, the construction of a drive-down float was a joint project of the City of Ketchikan, Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the State of Alaska, each of which provided a portion of the float’s approximately $5.17 million price tag. A sign acknowledging the joint-project status is expected to be completed next week, according to Corporon.

“The borough and the city and state can and do work together, very well,” he said.

Another project that got rolled into the drive-down float work was the refurbishment of the net float that was located in the same vicinity as the drive-down float. The net float work is complete, and the float itself now is located at the end of Bar Harbor’s Float 16.

Signs posted on the drive-down float state that reservations are required for use of the float.

“They’re supposed to call into the harbormaster, and confirm it can be used,” Corporon said.

In part, checking in with the harbormaster’s office beforehand will help ensure that an incoming vessel won’t be blocking the space for someone who already has it reserved.

For boats that are already paying moorage at one of the city-owned harbors, there’s no charge to use the drive-down float.

However, the City Council has approved a charge for transient vessels or local vessels that aren’t paying moorage at a city-owned harbor to use the drive-down float. The float charge is a day’s moorage for the particular size of vessel involved, according to Corporon.

In addition to commercial fishing vessels, the new drive-down float is proving advantageous for water-borne medevacs into Ketchikan, according to Corporon.

“They put the ambulance right next to the boat, and it’s just zip-zip, right off to the hospital,” he said.

07/16/2014 - 2:01pm