Point Hope Maritime

A shipyard reborn

Authored / Pictures by: Martin Leduc

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Point Hope Maritime has been a staple on Victoria Inner Harbor landscape for over a century. Having changed hands, directions and ultimately foreclosure in the nineties, the yard was suffering a major lack of love. Situated on a large waterfront footprint, the yard only had one marine railway and two small floating docks, so it was limited in its ability to handle a large workload. The overall look was one of antiquated gear and chaos at best, hardly a winning image for the modern day multimillion dollar vessels afloat in search of an efficient yard.

Ian Maxwell (pictured right), a local Victoria entrepreneur with many ties to transport and logistic operations in the area, saw theIan Maxwell - photo by Point Hope Maritime shipyard as the last bastion of industry on Victoria waterfront, greedily eyed by condo developers. He therefore jumped headlong in not only preserving this land for industry, but actually committed to redeveloping the shipyard into a modern facility. The shipyard is valuable to the area's marine community, as it is designed to service a large majority of vessels trading in and around British Columbia, in the 150 foot 1000 tons or less range. Losing access to the shipyard means these smaller ships would have to go to the nearby Esquimalt Graving Dock, a large facility, but one that comes with a considerable cost for small ship operators.

In mid 2006, a representative of the architectural firm of de Hoog & Kierulf Architects made a presentation to the Vancouver Island Branch of the Institute of Marine Engineering. Most of us had already noticed the extensive modification to the site, primarily the demolition of some old buildings and the building of a sizable, new, jetty. The plan laid out before us was quite ambitious; practically all building were to be demolished, a new marine railway, turntable and spurs to be installed and then several workshops, storage buildings, a possible pub and even a bio waste generation station is to built on the site. Indeed an ambitious plan.

Several months later in early 2007, the members of the CIMarE were once again contacted and invited to tour the budding facility, which had just completed several project on the new marine ways to the tune of 7 million cdn dollars, but was still well into the development stages. One Saturday morning, yard manager Hank Bikkering gave us a tour of the new facilities and explained its operations. Little did I know, a couple months later, the ship I was on, the Rivtow Capt. Bob ran aground, and would test the yards new design to the fullest. Below are some pictures of the new yard and the various amenities at the time of our tours in early March 2007.

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The keel blocks are set up on a series of 60 foot cradles joined together depending on the length of the vessels. They are then assemble on the railway's cradle (picture # 08). The cradle is slipped into the water on the newly extended marine ways, and the vessel floated onto the blocks. The cradle is then pulled up the "ways" by the chain. The vessel on the block cradle is then slid unto the turntable using roller strips (picture #07), turned on the turntable to the desired spur and pulled down that spur for the work to be carried out.

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At the time of our visit, work on a barge was just completed and the barge was readied for launching. Below are pictures of the inner workings of the cradle. The chain is retrieve by the bull gear arrangement in picture 16. The bull gear is one of the few piece reused from the former shipyard.

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The group stand around one of the spur line before presenting General Manager Hank Bikkering a "Thank You" plaque. I was impressed with the yard's built-in service kiosks providing water, air and power, generously peppering the facility. Pictured below is the totally rebuilt piers and jetties, providing ample moorage for working by.

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One of the few buildings designated to remain is the former BC Ferries "fast cat" assembly shed (picture 21 and 29), which is about 10 years old and provides ample assembly and machining space. With the wide open areas, trucks can easily access the vessels and quickly carry out their business. In picture 31, the condos and office development is quickly shadowing the yard, these buildings have all been built within the last three years, with many more planned. The space on picture 31 is the future area of strata warehouses, accessible from the public road but also opening up onto the shipyard; ideal for engine repair businesses or support services.

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Capt Bob tests the theory!

Little did I know that the tour above was a good introduction to the people and the yard at Point Hope, as a couple of months later, the boat I was on, the Rivtow Capt Bob, struck rocks in Nootka Sound near Gold River. Point Hope was chosen for the repair work; we were high and dry 4 days later. Below are some pictures which chronicle the Capt Bob's journey back to full health and the capabilities of the yard.

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The Rivtow Capt Bob is the largest tug on Canada's west coast and was at the upper reaches of the yards designed capabilities. The above pictures show the extensive damage. Several tanks were holed and many frames had to be cut out and replaced. The stem was also badly damaged and proved a bit challenging to source a replacement.

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While work was underway on the Capt Bob, the yard was also busy making use of their second spur, to work on various vessels, one of which is pictured on # 46 another, the Uchuck III, on pictures #53-55. Below, near the end of the project, final touches and launch planning are underway. In #52, yard manager, Hank (left), discusses options with Rob, project foreman (middle), and crew.

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Three bulldozers are used to moved the cradle onto the turntable in preparation for launch that night at high tide. In picture 61, Capt Bob sits on the cradle ready to launch. The boat was back to work the next day.

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Here are some stats on the yard and their capabilities:

Max length of vessel: 180 feet
Max breadth: 55 feet
Max weight: 1200 gross tons
Number of spurs: 2 currently built - 1x 300 feet, 1x 160 feet, 3 more in development, 180 - 250 feet
Area of yard: 10 acres
Service kiosks: Electricity at 460, 220, 110VAC; potable water, compressed air at 110 psi
Moorage (Pier): 400 feet in one stretch, 1,000 feet total
Additional Dry-dock capabilities: 200 gross tons
Workforce: 40 - 80 people depending on job
Available Trades: Steel, mechanical, piping, machining, blast and paint
Environmental: collection system, containment booms, blasting and spraying workshop in development

The marine railway is designed by Crandall Dry Dock Engineers of Massachusetts, USA, they also have quite a few pictures of the construction online.

For more information contact Hank Bikkering at Point Hope Maritime in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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