High Water & Flooding Event
May to August 2017
It has been exciting times aboard the S. S. Sicamous. The record breaking Okanagan Lake water levels had the ship floating approximately 60 centimetres above it usual normally beached position. As well, the S.S. Naramata beached 15 years ago due to hull corrosion, was once again taking on water. The rising water levels also began to threaten the newly restored S.S. Okanagan stern salon along with the Dredge shed, used as a workshop for our ongoing restoration work.
The rising water required quick action in many areas so that we could continue to remain open to the public as well as protection for the heritage structures located within the Marine Heritage Park. These actions included:
- Shutting down heating systems and removing gas meter
- Installation of a temporary coffer dam and hundreds of sandbags
- Shutting down main electrical service and installing a temporary service
- Modifications to fire suppression system to keep it operational
- Installing additional mooring lines to stabilize the ship
- Construction and installation of a boardwalk to ensure emergency exiting was maintained
- Construction of additional stairs, bridges and walkways to compensate for the rise of ship
- Installation of two piles at the bow to ensure the boat re-settles into it’s original position. Two more will be added to the stern at a later date
- Installation of many truckloads of sand under the ship to raise it and hopefully avoid future problems
- 24-hour security to keep the boat and people safe
None of these would have been possible without the hard work of our supporters and volunteers.
We would especially like to thank:
City of Penticton’s Public Works Department, Mitch Moroziak and staff, Engineering Division, Ian Chapman, Facilities Division Chris Schmidt and staff.
Penticton Fire Dept., Chief Larry Watkinson and especially the firefighters from Hall #2 who spent the day in hip waders blowing sand under the ship.
The truck drivers from Grizzly and Rital for their efforts in getting the sand where it was needed under the ship.
Finally, to Adolf Steffen and Matt Verboeket, two of our board members who put in countless hours over the last 6 weeks ensuring the boat was always safe and operational.
The Crew of the S.S. Sicamous
Views of the Park and Beach during the flood.
A flood barrier (“water bladder” ) was created in the park, to prevent to water from rising too far.
The city constructed a bridge and walkway leading over the barrier, so that there was a safe route out of the Sicamous,
The SS Naramata is actually floating in several of these photos, which is a good sign for the condition of the hull. Click here to learn more about our plans for the Naramata Tug Boat.
The water starts to rise around the SS Sicamous
The water began creeping further into the park, and little fishes could be seen swimming around the hull of the Sicamous. Sand bags started arriving and a “water bladder” was delivered from Kelowna. Volunteers and City workers set to work installing the flood barrier, to protect the newly restored Okanagan Stern Saloon and the Dredge Shed (a heritage structure where many of our restoration activities take place).
The Sicamous itself remains buoyant and fully water tight (courtesy of her steel hull and the quality of the workmanship at the time of her construction). However the floating hull caused some difficulties, as it meant the Sicamous was moving in the wind, while all of the modern structures connected to it were not! The City of Penticton worked with us, doing daily checks to make sure that the utility lines were secure, and pro-actively replacing them with flexible connections where needed. By the end of the flooding the electrical, water and gas lines had all been replaced. The ramps had come loose and were re-connected, new steps were added to the fire escapes – and a host of other repairs were done.
Planning for the Future – Raising the SS Sicamous
The strong winds blowing throughout the flood caused a series of challenges. You can see in the photos above that the ship almost came loose at times, with ropes holding her in place. To fix this deep pilings were installed at the bow of the ship as an emergency measure. Seeking a more permanent solution, we hit upon an idea. The fire trucks and Grizzly construction came with several tons of sand. This was pumped under the hull of the ship while the Sicamous was still floating. They kept adding sand until the ship was on dry land once more!
The Sicamous is now sitting 18 inches higher than before, and will be staying at this level. This means that if there is future flooding, the hull will remain safely grounded throughout – so future crew can rest easy 🙂 It also means that we can confidently begin constructing new improved structures around the ship (like the new wharf) at the correct height, without worry of damage from the ship moving in later years. It means some work in the short term, but in the long term we will all benefit.
Now that the waters are receding and the ship is back on dry land, work can start again on the wharf! Click here to learn more.
The SS Sicamous is supported with funding from the City of Penticton