Boats craned to water

Boats craned to water

Equipment failures have prompted extraordinary measures to be undertaken at the Beachport boatyard in order to return the 30 professional lobster vessels to the ocean in time for the opening of the 2022/23 season next month.

Two large cranes manned by four personnel are taking about two hours to manoeuvre each boat from their winter resting place into position on the slipway where they can be winched by cables into the water.

The task is usually undertaken by Department of Infrastructure and Transport personnel who man a straddle carrier with slings.

As the straddle carrier is currently out of order, Millicent firm Sharp Cranes was engaged by DIT to supply the alternative cranes and personnel.

Sharp Cranes spokesman Luke Sharp said his company was given two weeks’ notice by the State Government agency ahead of the first boat movement last Friday (August 5).

Mr Sharp said the aim was to have all the boats back in the water by the end of August so crews could ready them for the start of fishing.

He said large 55 tonne and 50 tonne cranes were required.

“It is weather dependent but we can shift around four or five boats per day,” Mr Sharp said.

The first vessel to be returned to the water was Juggernaut which is owned and operated by Beachport fishers Anthony and Steph Roach.

As it has a dry dock which allows for painting and other maintenance activities, the Beachport boatyard attracts vessels from along the coast each winter.

For many years, Beachport District Council and its successor Wattle Range Council were contracted by DIT to run the boatyard.

There have been other equipment failures at the boatyard in recent years.

Back in 2019, around 20 boats from Beachport and Southend had to stay on the water for up to three extra months as a broken winch restricted them from being hauled out of the sea via the slipway.

A department spokesperson said the problem was a failed hydraulic pump within the winch system.

The commercial lobster fishers are charged $4857 per year to store their boats at the Beachport boatyard.

The storage fee entitles the recipient to boat storage, four slippages into Rivoli Bay, four-yard shifts using the straddle carrier and unlimited use of the dirty work area for one year.

The fees for storage, slipping, straddle carrier use and boat movements in boatyards at Port MacDonnell, Beachport and Kingscote are charged to recover some of the costs associated with the operation and administration of these facilities.

The SE Voice has approached DIT for comment.

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