Thursday, January 27, 2011
On the waterfront
One of the perks of my job is that I occasionally get to see an area most people don't often see. This week a project involved a structural evalution of an old timber pier on Portland's Willamette River waterfront. As part of that work, we hired a diving company to conduct an inspection of the underwater portion of the piling supporting the old dock...and I get to ride along on the dive boat. (OK...I had to do more than just ride along, but that is probably boring stuff for most of you so I will dwell on the fun stuff. Let it suffice to say that I let the experts do the diving part.)
The work day starts early, when there is no wind and the water is calm. This is a slip in Swan Island where several ships are moored and await maintenance and repairs.
We left the dock at Swan Island and cruised past the shipyards. Here a large Navy ship is undergoing repairs while in one of the yard's drydock.
The pier we inspected parallels the Willamette River just downstream of the Fremont Bridge. (Out of deference to my client, I will refrain from divulging the exact location of the pier in question.)
An underwater inspection involves much more than just scuba tanks and a diving suit. In this case the helmet included a spotlight, a video camera and a 2-way radio that allowed us to talk to the diver as he inspected the individual piling under the pier. I should note that recent heavy rains had caused the river to have the consistency of coffee with cream, with about 6 inches of visibility. The inspection generally consisted of physically feeling the pile with one's hands, "sounding" the pile with a hammer to detect any hollow portions, and taking core samples to see if there is any rotted portions within the pile. We also video-taped whatever the diver saw, but generally we looked at swirliing muddy water.
One sees all manner of wildlife on the river...including the two-legged river skipper. (OK...maybe it's really just a guy standing on a board and paddling along the edge of the river. he was just as curious about us as we were about him.)
Another shot of the Portland Shipyard drydock
There are several drydocks at the shipyards with ships sitting high and dry. Since I wasn't certain of the conditions on the boat (and being rather reticent about exposing my good camera and equipment to any risk of harm), these images were taken with my Canon point-n-shoot camera I usually take on my work-related expeditions...which actually doesn't do a bad job after all.