BROWNSVILLE — The skyline at the Port of Brownsville got temporarily taller this week.
In addition to the towering masts of the visiting tall ship, Lady Washington, an even loftier pile driver crane barge, Skookum, was inside the marina, pulling out old wooden pilings and pounding in steel ones.
The Lady Washington arrived for its annual visit the evening of Aug. 7 and tied up on the outside of the east breakwater. The following day, Aug. 8, was a day off for the crew.
Then, on Aug. 9, the ship was open to the public for free walk-aboard tours from 1-5 p.m. Evening sails from 6-8 p.m. that same day were sold out, according to Zachary Stocks, Gray’s Harbor Historical Seaport program development officer. The ship carried 45 guests, who each paid $42 to $49 for a cruise.
“We like coming to Brownsville,” Stocks said. “The Port of Brownsville and the Kitsap Maritime Heritage Foundation here have been good partners, have spread the word and provided shore support.”
Another tall ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain, normally joins the Lady Washington at Brownsville. However, this year, the Chieftain was in dry dock at Port Townsend undergoing scheduled maintenance until Aug. 14, Stocks said.
The Skookum, a pile driver crane barge, had arrived several days earlier to assist with the installation of a new B dock. Port Contracts Manager Jerry Rowland said the $333,400 bid to remove this group of old pilings and pound in new ones was won by Quigg Brothers of Aberdeen.
Quigg Brothers is a fourth-generation, family owned construction company “with more than 100 years of experience that employs 65-100 people and specializes in heavy, highway, marine and industrial construction along the Washington coast,” according to its website, www.quiggbros.com.
Replacing B dock is the latest portion of the port’s four-year, $4.2 million renovation project to replace old wooden docks and Styrofoam floats with “more environmentally friendly, 100 percent recyclable aluminum and fiberglass docks with plastic tub floats so they don’t leach anything into the water,” interim Port Manager Matt Appleton said.
The project was financed with a revenue bond.
At Brownsville, the crew of the Skookum had the task of pulling out 14 old creosoted wooden pilings and pounding in nine new, galvanized steel pilings — seven for the new B dock and two on I dock.
(Brownsville Marina’s docks are labeled A, B, C, D, E, F — and I. The A, B, C, D, E and F docks all connect to the 14 foot-wide, concrete I dock, which should have been labeled “G dock” or the “South Breakwater,” Rowland said. “But when it was installed, the first few tenants said ‘This is as big as I-5,’ and the name stuck,’” Rowland laughed.)
When B dock is finished, all of the old wooden docks will have been replaced except for A dock.
The port’s next project is to replace the boat launch and staging area. The state Recreation and Conservancy Office has named this its top grant project for 2017, Rowland said.
Under the terms of the grant, the RCO will pay about $653,600 and the port will match 25 percent of that, some $218,000, he said.
Beyond that, future plans call for replacing A dock and the main walkway leading to the inner marina, replacing the kayak ramp, and dredging the marina, he said.
With all of this renewal, “We like to think we have one of the most modern marinas [in the county],” Appleton said.