September 3, 2014 – Dredge Maintenance

Dredge and Rainey Report
Dredge Maintenance

September 03, 2014

Summary of accomplishments:

  • No dredging
  • Moved the “John James” to the Rainey headquarters’ boatslip

Impediments: thunderstorms


The small dredge has been idle since August of last year (2013). We stopped dredging after filling Cell 3 and completing an acre. After being exposed to the elements for 5 years, the dredge needed critical maintenance, and filling the next cell would cause back-flow to affect the cells LSU had already begun to monitor. Last winter, the water-pump that runs the jet-ring was pulled off and a new frame was constructed to replace the one that had disintegrated into a pile of rust.

Just recently, I extended the Coastal Use Permit for our dredge work, with another project in mind to create marsh terraces with the dredge in the outer pond of the experimental site. With time-intensive summer projects such as the Green Heron nest surveys finally winding down, it is time to get the dredge overhauled and ready for the next dredge project.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 – moving the dredge

Timmy met me at the boat ramp right at 9:00 AM and we were at the dredge by 10:00. We knew there was a leak in the hydraulic system – specifically the hose to the pressure gage – and couldn’t crank the engine that charges the batteries, powers the pump or the hydraulic winch. However, the batteries seem to be charged up enough to use the other winches that pick up the spuds or moves the dredge side-to-side.

Figure 1. The dredge hose was pulled away from the bank by the flat boat.

First, we disconnected the flexible 4” dredge hose in the canal from the hard hose on the bank. It took a bit of work to break the corrosion that had sealed the brass to aluminum connections, and we both took turns hammering or levering the hose until it came loose. We capped the end, keeping a bit of air in the hose to help float it. The end was tied it to the flatboat and Timmy pulled it back and forth across the canal until it was freed from the banana lilies that had grown around it in the shallow part of the canal near the bank.

Timmy untied the anchor from the right side-to-side cable and marked its position in the marsh with a PVC pole so we could find it later. He also untied the other cable from the tree on the left. I pulled both cables in while cleaning off the barnacles and algae before winding them onto the winches. We pulled the barnacle-coated spuds up, but didn’t have enough water depth to rotate them and lay them down on the deck.

Timmy tied the flatboat to the side of the dredge and pushed the dredge backwards all the way to the camp, with the 3 sections of flexible hose still attached to the pump dragging along behind. The floats did a good job of keeping the hose up. It took an hour to push the dredge a mile and a half to the Rainey Headquarters.

Figure 2. The flatboat was tied alongside the dredge to push it backwards a mile and a half to the Rainey headquarters.

We tied it up in front of the camp, moved the boats out of the boatshed, and pulled the loose end of the hose into the boatshed so that it wouldn’t be a navigation obstruction floating around in the canal. The spuds had to be lowered to get the dredge under the boatshed. Barnacles had grown around the lock pins, and Timmy had a bit of trouble getting them all pulled loose. The spuds were lowered partway, a rope was tied to the top, and we pulled them under the rear brace and lowered them to the deck. Each was pulled all the way onboard to get the pointed end pulled into the case for safety. We took a lunch break and planned our next move.

Timmy pulled the hose with the John Deere riding lawnmower (both of our 4-wheelers are offsite for repair) and I moved and steered the dredge along the canal and into the boat slip by ropes tied to the front and back. We moved it one hose section at a time. I had to move the dredge to give slack in the hose, tie up the dredge and run around to the front of the boat slip to help move the hose sections over the bulkhead at the east end, and run back to the dredge to move it for more slack. Each section had to be taken apart to drain it and make it lighter for the mower to pull. Even with all of that, it was a lot easier to get it into the boat slip and tied down than we had expected and we were done by 5:00.

Figure 3. The dredge was tied up in front of the house to lower the spuds, and a rope attached to the front and rear was used to maneuver it into the boatshed.

Figure 4. The small dredge will be kept tethered in the far end of the boat slip until all maintenance is completed.



Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Audubon Louisiana and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921x202 office,
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