The 1898 ferry boat Berkeley, moored permanently on San Diego Bay at the Embarcadero, has been in need of maintenance, which it received last weekend.
On the morning of Sunday, March 29, workers for the Maritime Museum of San Diego labored to replace the lines that moor the Berkeley to the pier. Two thick, braided nylon ropes had decayed. Replacing them with new nylon line was deemed not a valid option because the portion of the ferry’s wooden deck where they were tied has incurred some rot. Thus, the decision was made to replace the ropes with iron chains, which would be affixed to the steel hull of the vessel.
When a mooring line needs to strung, typically the new line is tossed from the boat to the wharf. But when the new “line” is steel chain so heavy that a length of five feet weighs 300 pounds, a different method of tethering is required. According to a volunteer working with the crew, the chain being installed weighed 60 pounds per foot.
On a relatively small barge, several strong workers were able to gradually string the new chains from the hull of the Berkeley to the edge of the Embarcadero. They used the barge and the existing nylon rope to support the chain above the water as it was slowly stretched taut and then secured to the concrete wharf.