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A Splashing Success

Iconic Bemus Point-Stow Ferry Returned To Lake

Crews from Hohl Industrial Services position the Bemus Point Stow Ferry over the waters of Chautauqua Lake on Thursday afternoon. The ferry was removed by Hohl in July for hull repairs. P-J photo by Jay Young

A local icon has been returned to its natural habitat.

Early Thursday afternoon workers from Hohl Industrial Services guided the 45-ton Bemus Point-Stow Ferry up from its pylons, over the shoreline and safely back into the waters of Chautauqua Lake.

The historic vessel was placed on land by the Tonawanda-based Hohl on July 14 in order to complete major hull repairs and other improvements

Sea Lion Limited, the nonprofit overseeing the project, announced in August that hull repairs had been approved by New York state inspectors.

“Hopefully we don’t have to have this thing out of the water again for another 10 years,” said Jay Kunz, co-president of Sea Lion Limited. “It is going well. We got some painting done underneath the boat on the hull, that wasn’t part of the original plan, but a good thing to have done. Since they had done this before when they picked it up, it is pretty much a routine now. They know where to be, when to be, how to be.”

Crews from Hohl Industrial Services position the Bemus Point Stow Ferry over the waters of Chautauqua Lake on Thursday afternoon. The ferry was removed by Hohl in July for hull repairs. P-J photo by Jay Young

Thursday’s lift began with setting the Benchley Contracting crane in place near the ferry entrance, which was then saddled with 150 tons of massive metal counterweights.

Before it could be swung off of its pylons and back into the water, the ferry was lifted slightly and shifted so that workers could finish painting the hull sections resting on stanchions.

“They started backing down the trucks at about 9 a.m.,” Kunz said. “There is 300,000 pounds of counter weight and the crane itself weighs 180,000 pounds. So we are just under 500,000 pounds of weight with the crane and that is what they need to lift and swing and reach.”

The last major construction task on Sea Lion’s agenda is the installation of 1,700 lumber boards of decking, which will bring the weight of the ferry back to its former 55 tons.

Although COVID-19 has caused increased prices and long wait times for treated lumber, Kunz said that the project had taken delivery of its lumber.

“It is sitting at the supply (area) and it will probably be coming here on the 15th,” Kunz said. “We have to deal with all these issues with COVID and everything like that, but it has kind of gotten knocked down and we have been able to move forward more than expected. The work will begin on the deck sometime after the wood gets here.”

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