With Southside, South Ferry finishes fleet overhaul
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He and his father, William Y. Clark, were standing outside the South Ferry queueing area watching wave after wave of traffic arrive to board. That much traffic is good for business, Mr. Clark said, but only if the ferry can move all of it without delays.
The company's boats at the time, North Haven, Captain Ed Cartwright and Captain Bill Clark did not have the car capacity to keep up. As an example, North Haven held nine cars. South Ferry's newest boat, Southside, holds 20. Mr. Clark said the new boats make it possible to transport more building materials to the Island at once.
Since those last wooden boats were decommissioned, South Ferry operated renovated used boats. Using a “cut and crop” method, shipyard workers replaced the steel parts that did not pass Coast Guard inspection. A new metal sheet could be cut and welded from both inside and outside.
The new, larger boats are also made of steel and based on the same design but with the Southside, “I think we've hit it,” Mr. Clark said.
Ferry Captain Roni King agreed, calling the boat the company's most custom-made because the Clarks asked their employees what changes or features they would like on the boat. She also marveled at how little noise the engine makes, much less even than Southern Cross.
Its engine and reverse gear are bolted together and hard-mounted to the engine bed with a cement-like product called chockfast orange. They are mounted on the frame of the engine bed, allowing sound to be sent through the boat's timbers.
Sunrise was built differently, with the gear and engine separated by a shaft and perched on separate rubber engine mounts that Mr. Clark said absorb sound that would ordinarily have gone through the engine bed and out onto the deck. He said Bill Clark should get credit for that setup. “It was a decision that could have gone the other way based on money,” Cliff Clark said. “But Bill felt it would be worth the cost and he was right.” The engine room is also lined with lead, further shielding the deck from any airborne engine noise.
They used the same engine room design for Southside as well as the same engine, an MTU Detroit Diesel Series 60, to run the three newest boats. Southern Cross‘s original engine has run more than 65,000 hours without an overhaul, Mr. Clark said.
To further the intervals between oil changes, one-micron bypass filtration systems were installed in the three newest boats. The filter catches anything larger than one micron (1/1000 of a millimeter). It also contains additives to help maintain oil quality, South Ferry engineer Phil Dunne explained. This helps keep the engine oil cleaner for a longer period of time — 3,000 hours between oil changes as opposed to 150.
There are several other environmentally friendly features, which includes eliminating generators. Necessary electrical power, including LED deck lighting, runs through three 24-volt batteries, any of which can shoulder the entire power load in the event of an emergency.
A closed loop system cools water with no discharge. Crew and passenger spaces are heated by pushing the engine's cooling water through a heat exchanger without the need for oil-fired or electric heaters.
Southside and Sunrise also have a different engine room fire suppression system than Southern Cross, which uses carbon dioxide that would be lethal to anyone in the engine room. Instead, they use Inergen, a chemical not lethal to anyone in the engine room. The system is activated from the pilothouse.
“We're reducing our carbon footprint,” Mr. Dunne said. He added that the energy savings “chunk up” because of the number of hours the boats run and the relatively infrequent need to take them out of the water for maintenance.
The pilothouses on Southside and Sunrise are built out of aluminum, unlike Southern Cross. The lighter metal allows the boats to float four to five inches higher because it is not necessary to ballast the hull, Mr. Clark explained. Therefore, the boats can hold more weight, something they have not been required to do as much lately. Mr. Clark noted that ferry traffic has been down recently because fewer contractors have been coming to the Island.
A state legislative bill passed last year exempted the company from paying what Mr. Clark estimated at $170,000 in sales tax on Southside. That figure “won't have to be factored into future rates,” he said, adding, “It was a blessing to save money on a new boat.”
With its arrival, Southside will be the secondary boat and Sunrise will take over from Southern Cross as South Ferry's primary boat. The only thing left for Southside is its christening ceremony, which will take place later this spring. Mr. Clark said Governor David Paterson's wife, Michelle, has verbally accepted an invitation to attend.
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