Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Moving a Boom Boat

When I was on the ferry to Petersburg I saw a boom boat working a log raft. I hadn't seen that in decades. When I was a kid there were boom boats working log rafts all over Southeast Alaska, but as the logging dwindled, so did the bobbing, growling boom boats. 

These utilitarian boats are small, agile, and powerful.

A green and yellow boom boat tied to a log raft. There are cedar, spruce, and hemlock bundles in this log raft.

Harold asked if I wanted to go with while his boom boat was loaded for transport to Hoonah.


He bought the "Christine" at an auction some years ago, and then did major work to make it a working vessel. It was heading to a job tending a log ship, so he made very clear some of the instructions for the people who would be running it. 

Be nice to the boom boat. 

The best way to move items around Southeast Alaska is often by barge, so off we went to meet the barge when it was ready to load. 

I scrambled aboard the tug "Brenda H" to look around and take some pictures. What an immaculate tug boat! Above is the view from the wheelhouse.

Harold hooked up the lift chains, climbed on top of the cab, and stepped across to the barge like he was walking down the street. No biggy.

Harold has been around boats all of his life, and he and his wife are both licensed captains.  

Stepping onto the barge after hooking up the lift gear. 

Lifting the "Christine" onto the barge. 

The forklift didn't even grunt.  

The "Christine" was blocked on a shipping flat and chained down for the trip. It was a process to get everything right and tight. 

See those 'teeth' on the front of the boat? Those are to bite into the logs that the boat pushes.

Chaining the "Christine" to a flat for the voyage. 

Below you can see that it has a big propeller for such a little boat! A 671 Detroit diesel engine powers it. The nozzle around the propeller turns to steer the boat, instead of a rudder that would get knocked off by a log. The cage around the nozzle helps to protect it. 

The "Christine" was delivered to Hoonah and put to work. 

A stern view of the boom boat. 

Skipper Jimmy Dalton on the "Christine". In the background is one of the log rafts he is building. Photo by Harold Medalen.

The logs are put into the water in bundles. The boom boat pushes the bundles into a raft that is surrounded by boom sticks. The boom sticks are large logs that are chained together to make a "pond" or enclosure around the log raft.

Besides building the rafts, the boom boat is used for ship tending. The log rafts have to be delivered to the ship in the proper order for loading, and the bundles have to be in the right place at the right time to be lifted aboard.

Boom boat "Christine" tending log ship "Northern Light". Photo by Harold Medalen

The "Northern Light" sure makes the "Christine" look little!

A big thank-you to Harold for my first ever ride in a boom boat and for photos! 

Thank you, my friends, for checking out the blog today, 

Alaska Beachcomber

Other boat related posts:



Barging Freight in Southeast Alaska

The tug WESTERN TITAN with freight barge in tow in Wrangell Narrows near Petersburg, Alaska.

This tug and barge are hauling our groceries and other goods through Wrangell Narrows, where the channel is 200 feet wide and the currents are wicked at times. The captain and crew have the cable shortened up so that they can maneuver through this winding waterway. That 108 foot tug boat has 4500 horsepower! My plan is to stay out of their way.


This is how we get a LOT of our stuff to Southeast Alaska. Only three towns in this region have road access that connects them to Canada and the lower 48 states. Most of the towns have to get their goods by water or air.

The tug and barge below are delivering fuel.   Gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel are refined down south and barged into Southeast Alaska.

Tug ERNEST CAMPBELL with fuel barge in tow in Zimovia Strait near Wrangell, Alaska.

Want to move a construction outfit from Wrangell to Sitka? The town of Wrangell is on Wrangell Island, and Sitka is on Baranof Island, so the best method is by barge. 

Barge loaded with construction equipment moored near Wrangell Island. Um, Guys? Close the excavator door so that it won't snow inside the cab.

Or maybe you just want to move your hunting SUV or van from Zarembo Island to Wrangell. A landing craft is just the ticket for that. 

Landing craft hauling a vehicle into Heritage Harbor in Wrangell, Alaska.

They just pull up to the boat launch ramp, lower the bow gate, put out the wheel ramps, and away you go!

Landing craft unloading a van at the boat launch ramp.

But back to the freight barge... 

Once a week 'the barge' brings fresh groceries and most of our other goods to town. The bigger towns in Southeast get barge service twice a week in the summer time. In each town the residents know what day the barge comes in. It is not uncommon to run low on milk a few days before barge day.

The barge arrives early Monday morning in Wrangell. 

Tug BRENDA H pushing the barge to the dock in Wrangell, Alaska.

Unloading freight in Wrangell.

First a truck and excavator needed to be driven off of the barge deck. But the excavator wouldn't start. The crew worked on it, and two hours later drove it up the ramp. Then the giant forklift started moving containers off of the deck and into the freight yard. 

So you want to send Grandpa's great big green band saw to your niece in Alaska? Truck it to Northland Services or Alaska Marine Lines in Seattle, and have it put on the barge.

Band saw, truck, and containers being unloaded using a forklift.

This reminds me of Tonka Toys.

With the small stuff out of the way the forklift picks up the forty-foot containers and moves them ashore. 

Unloading a forty-foot container.

This is a small barge that is used to service some of the smaller communities in winter.

The barge in the picture at the top of this page is over 80 feet wide. There are even bigger barges that take cargo across the Gulf of Alaska to be put onto the rail line that goes to interior Alaska. We saw one of those barges (picture below) last year.   It was making circles in calmer inside waters while waiting for the weather to settle down out in the gulf.

Oceangoing tug and barge in the protection of the islands, waiting for the weather on the outside to settle down.

Loading containers onto the barge.

Back at the Wrangell barge... all of the freight was unloaded and the crew put empty containers from last week onto the barge. Then the balky excavator was loaded back on, too.  

The tug BRENDA H backed the barge away from the dock, untied from it's side, and towed it off to Petersburg to deliver their freight.

Tug BRENDA H towing the barge out of Wrangell.

We'll see them in another week.

I hope to see you soon! 

Alaska Beachcomber

P.S. Thank you Ron R. for letting me know what time the barge would arrive!