Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It’s big, it’s gray and it’s here to stay!

Back in December, we told you about the demise of the crane at East Landing (see It’s big, it’s blue, it’s broken!). This is our main way of getting people and gear on and off the island. The ocean around the Farallones can be very rough, especially during winter storms or high swells and there is no safe place to land a boat. So we use the crane to lift all people and gear up onto the island. Well, after 21 years of faithful service (and constant battering from a truculent ocean) the crane had suffered a great deal of corrosion and needed to be replaced. 
The old crane taking a beating during an early winter storm

Transporting the new crane to SEFI
Replacing a 20 ton piece of equipment on a remote island is no easy task. Biologists are a generally handy group of folks, but in this case, we needed to call in the experts. So the USFWS called up Sheedy Drayage, the company that installed the crane in 1989 and worked out the complicated logistics of removing the old crane, getting it repaired and then getting it back to the island. This required the assistance of the Air National Guard and Aris Helicopters to lift the heavy crane parts and transport them to the mainland for repairs.Then of course they also had to get them back to the island after the repairs had been completed.
Aris Helicopter preparing to hoist crane parts into place
Of course, getting the new crane back to the island was only the first step. The tricky part was getting it re-assembled and installed at the landing. This required good weather, perfect timing, great balance and a whole lot of rigging to temporarily secure the various parts until everything was safely bolted together in its proper place. To most of us this would seem a Herculean task, but for the intrepid crew from Sheedy and the experienced pilots from Aris, it was just another day at the office. 
Gently dropping the new stiff leg into place
Hooking up the parts as they are dropped into place
When the crane disappeared from the island in December, many of us worried that it would be many months to a year before it could be reinstalled. But, thanks to the tireless effort of USFWS personnel, efficient work by Sheedy, tremendous assistance from Aris and the Air National Guard, and lots of good luck, the new and improved crane was returned to the island in mid-March. This one looks a little different. It is galvanized to help prevent the corrosion that caused the eventual demise of the old crane, but it works just the same.
New Crane installed and ready to use
Needless to say, island residents are extremely happy to have the crane back, allowing us to safely and efficiently conduct landings, even in rough spring conditions. We would like to thank Zach Coffman, Gerry McChesney and Mendel Stewart of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Al Pietrocelli and the crew from Sheedy, the Air National Guard, Aris Helicopters, the National Park Service and all those who contributed in one way or another to making this immense project happen.
Sheedy crew at East Landing
All photos in this post are courtesy of Zach Coffman, USFWS


Danny said...

Wohoo, The Crane is back. Good to hear there is again an easier access to SEFI than the North Landing. Hope i can ride it myself someday.

jesica said...

Really very wonderful blog, and what a nice pictures collection. There are many different varieties of cranes on the market today, both in terms of size and type. Each type and size serves a different function.
Thanks for share this.
Hoist Crane