Friday, February 12, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Thursday, February 11, 2010)

A local business finds success on the water, the City tells yet another bidder on Watson Island thanks but not thanks and the Port of Prince Rupert closes the gates during the Olympics. Some of the items of the Thursday news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
HIGH TIDE FOR A BUSINESS THAT'S KEEPING AFLOAT ON THE NORTH COAST-- A local marine construction is making some waves in the marine industry as it builds concrete floats. The Daily provided a look at the work of New Pacifica Marine Construction.

We learn the identity of another rebuffed bidder as the City of Prince Rupert continues to send out thanks but no thanks letters to some of the would be owners of the Watson Island industrial site. The one paragraph letter of rejection was sent to Quickload Terminals who had provided the City with a bid for the entire site and had asked for an opportunity to make their presentation to council, but that request was apparently never acted upon.

The Port of Prince Rupert is increasing its security at its various facilities in the city, with access to Ridley Island and the Fairview Container port to be restricted beginning on Friday. Commissionaires will be posted at the gates to the two locations and only those with proper identification and legitimate business will be allowed access to the sites.

The start of the Northwest AA Basketball zones was featured in the sports section, with a review of the Senior Boys Rainmakers victory over Charles Hays by a score of 75-50, the two Rupert based teams now move on to this weekends zones tournament in Smithers, with the first match for Charles Hays at noon on Friday while PRSS plays at 7 pm.

Midget Hockey also received a review in the Thursday paper with a look back at a weekend tournament in Smithers.

(Archive for Daily News Articles for February 11, 2010 when posted to Daily News website)

The Northern View
Prince Rupert Chamber names Business Excellence finalists -- The nominations are in and on February 27th the celebration of Business excellence will take place as the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce recognizes those in the local business community (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Rainmakers Open Zone Basketball Playoffs With Win -- Details of the opening game in the Northwest AA Zones in Basketball as the PRSS Rainmakers defeated their cross town rivals Wednesday night (see article here)

School Board Backs FSA Tests -- Despite a request from the Coast Mountain School District's teachers union to cancel the controversial Foundation Skills Assessments, that school district has voted to go ahead with the tests next week (see article here)

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
Rough Sailing-- BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall outlines the lessons learned by the Ferry Corporation in the wake of last years troubled sailings with BC Ferries promising better storm warnings (listen to the interview here)

The full list of current Daybreak North interviews can be found here.

Daily News, front page headline story
High tide for a business that’s keeping afloat on the North Coast
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, February 11, 2010

A float building company in Prince Rupert is taking advantage of the North Coast’s
high waters.

New Pacifica Marine Construction, located in Prince Rupert’s industrial park, has found the local tides have made work one heck of a lot easier for moving a float once it has been constructed. They appear to be the only barge building business that is taking advantage of this unique sitution.

“We used to use cranes until one of our crane operators, Doug Riddell, said ‘let the tide lift those things up instead of my cranes’,” said Dale Redekopp, manager of New Pacifica. “You couldn’t do this in Vancouver, the tides aren’t big enough.”

The company’s crew builds concrete floats adjacent to the water and when they are ready to be moved, they wait for a tide higher than 22 feet and then a tug will tow it out.

“It’s less stress on the floats too,” said Redekopp.

On Tuesday morning, a crew of six was adding concrete to a float they are making for the First Nations village Metlakatla, which is going to be used to transport a large canoe.

To begin construction of the vessel, they build a frame around large blocks of Styrofoam, trucked in from a manufacturer in Vancouver, that weigh a pound per cubic foot. Then concrete is poured around the blocks, interlaced with rebar for reinforcement. A gap is left between each block so the concrete can get in everywhere.

Something that starts off so light ends up pretty heavy. Once the weight of rebar, lumber, Styrofoam and concrete is factored in, the float for Metlakatla will weigh 120,000 lbs.

“It’s simple math and kind of fun,” said crewmember Francois Ferland. “You calculate 20 metres by 5,500 pounds and add 10,000 for rebar.”

From start to finish it takes about seven days to complete construction and then there’s the wait for an appropriate tide.

The next day, Redekopp said, they’d begin building a second one and at the end of the month, the two will be floated out together.

Eight years ago Redekopp built himself a floating house, but leased it out to Metlakatla for its water taxi service for a few years. The business took off for him from there and he’s estimated the company has constructed over 80 floats by now.

“We just finished one for Eagle Point Lodge near Wales Island and we’ve built several fuel floats for the Queen Charlotte Islands,” said Redekopp.

The largest to date was 4,000 sq. ft – weighing in at around 500,000 lbs.

Shin deep in concrete, Redekopp joked that rubber boots, gloves and donuts are the company’s biggest expense.

Barge builders moved to using Styrofoam blocks about 20 years ago.

“They were hollow in those days,” Redekopp said of barges. “They had to pump them out all the time and if they got holes, they’d sink. All floats are Styrofoam now.”

Laying the concrete sometimes takes a day, but if the barge is larger, the crew will do the work in three pours.

Don Riddell of West Fraser Concrete, Prince Rupert, said the amount of concrete being added to the Metlakatla barge would equal that of an average house with a four-foot crawl space.
“This particular concrete is two times the strength as what you would use on the basement of a house,” Riddell added.

As crewmember Tony Mezzanotti and Redekopp began smoothing out one of the sections, using a long 2 x 4, Redekopp nodded toward Mezzanotti and said, “he’s the concrete guru - he’s Italian.”

Smiling he looked at Mezzanotti and added, “you’ll be a legend once you’re dead, just like John Wayne.”
When they aren’t building new barges and floats, the crew is repairing them for local companies. “It’s all about keeping afloat,” joked Ferland.

As a tenant of Wainwright Marine Services, Redekopp said it is a symbiotic relationship.

“They’ve been great to us and treated us kindly. Our company generates business for them because they tow our floats where they have to go.”

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