Community Environment

Lift at Gig Harbor Marina and Boatyard put to the test

Posted on March 21st, 2024 By: Chapin Day

On the Gig Harbor waterfront Thursday morning, what looked like an unseasonal champion pumpkin weigh-in proved to be just a recently mandated test of boat yard travel lifts.

While a gaggle of yard workers, state officials and marine industry representatives looked on, a crane inspection company sucked a total of 133,332 pounds of harbor water into four bags hung on the Gig Harbor Marina and Boatyard lift, rated by its manufacturer for 50 tons. The lift, installed in 2008, normally retrieves and relaunches boats.

Water inside these four yellow bags tested the lift at the Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard. Photo by Chapin Day.

Yard manager Patrick Thompson says their mobile, aircraft-tired machine handled more than a thousand boats last year.

State officials on hand included compliance inspectors from the state’s Department of Labor and Industries and the Department of Ecology.

The latter was there to assure that the removal and return of the water to the harbor was done in an environmentally safe manner.

Another observer, Ray Jennings, vice president and director of government affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association, said Thursday’s test was just the second of more than 70 needed statewide to comply with the new testing program, which has an April 6 deadline.  Jennings added that state and industry officials are negotiating for a deadline extension to get all the time-consuming work done.

The four bags contained more than 133,000 pounds of water. Photo by Chapin Day

For crane inspection and safety training firm Arxcis, which conducted this test, the program represents opportunities. On jobs they do, their results are accepted by both federal OSHA and state L&I agencies, said company co-owner Jeff Williams. He noted  that not all the cranes are the size of the Gig Harbor crane.

“There’s a 400-tonner in Seattle,” he noted, requiring something much bigger than water bags for the weigh-in.

No official results for Thursday’s test are yet available, but yard manager Thomson seemed confident.

“It passed,” he said, as the bags drained back into the harbor.

Water from the bags drains back into the harbor. State Department of Ecology officials made sure this was done in an environmentally safe manner. Photo by Chapin Day