New fleet for Crater Lake
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
July 07, 2003
By LEE JUILLERAT
A fleet of new boats will soon be ferrying visitors around Crater Lake.
A new generation of tour boats, which park officials say will be cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient, are scheduled to be flown by helicopter to Wizard Island on July 22 and, if all goes well, begin carrying visitors around the lake July 26.
Seven tours, each lasting about two hours, will be offered daily with a ranger-interpreter. Boats stop at Wizard Island, where passengers can stop to go hiking, fishing or swimming and then resume lake tours.
The three new fiberglass boats will replace wooden boats built in the 1960s and ’70s. The replacement is being done, in part, because the old boats have become less mechanically reliable.
Spokesmen for Crater Lake National Park and Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the Denver-based company now in its second year of operating park concessions, said the three new boats will benefit the lake and visitors.
“It’s really a win-win situation for the customers and our operations,” said park spokesman Michael Justin.
”When the boat is running, you can barely hear it,” said Darrin Swindahl, manager of Modutech Marine Inc. of Tacoma, Wash., which built the boats for Xanterra.
Justin said the new boats will carry 49 people and two crew members. Boarding and departing will be easier because of a new design, but the new vessels are designed to look like the old boats.
“We wanted to have that look-alike feeling,” Justin said.
The new boats will have specially muffled engines to minimize noise, sound systems that will allow passengers to better hear talks by park rangers, and several environmental features, such sensors to keep fuel and other pollutants contained.
“They have the most advanced engine technology available,” Justin said.
In addition, he said built-in buoyancy chambers assure the vessels will not sink, even if swamped. The new boats all carry emergency rafts, and passengers will be able to easily reach life jackets in the front of each seat.
The hulls, seven to 10 layers of fiberglass up to an inch thick, will be tougher, less prone to leaks and easier to repair than wooden hulls. “It is the latest in fiberglass technology,” said Justin, noting that repairs will be easier done and less environmentally impacting than repairing the wooden boats.
The engines are sealed in compartments, so water cannot reach them and mix with fuel or oil. ”Smart” bilge pumps and filters will ensure that even if water were to make it into the compartment, no petroleum could be ejected into the lake. During the 1990s, gasoline residue was detected near the boat docks at Cleetwood Cove.
Xanterra will spend about $600,000 on the three new boats, according to Rick Burcham, the company’s corporate director of projects.
Tourist boats have taken visitors on Crater Lake since 1907.
As the new boats are flown from the rim area to the lake, the existing boats will be hooked up to the helicopter and flown from the lake to the rim.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.