Tisbury town boats undergo repairs prior to launch

The Tisbury harbormaster patrol and fire boat needs repairs to its firefighting system. — File photo by Steve Myrick

The pump-out boat based in Lake Tashmoo required repairs this spring because of hull corrosion caused by electrolysis. Weak electrical current running through the water can cause metal to corrode. Harbormaster Jay Wilbur believes that the problem with the pump-out boat was caused by an improperly installed outboard motor and hydraulic pump. The corrosion damage was repaired by welding new aluminum plates to the hull, at a cost of about $600, according to Mr. Wilbur. The boat is scheduled to be launched and ready for service this week.

Town administrator Jay Grande asked for a professional evaluation of the vessel after the repairs. “I asked for a survey of the boat by a professional so we can make sure it’s in good condition,” Mr. Grande said

The harbor patrol vessel needs repairs to the firefighting system. Mr. Wilbur said a bearing needs to be replaced, at a cost of approximately $2,000. He said he is not sure what caused the bearing failure. Repairs should be complete next week. While the firefighting mechanism is out of commission, the Oak Bluffs fire and patrol boat is on call in case of a fire emergency.

“It’s tough stuff to keep on top of,” Mr. Wilbur said. “None of us have the maintenance staff that we should. But keep in mind we’ve got boats provided by the federal government. We got a grant for the boats, and if we have to spend a couple thousand dollars to keep them running, we’re way ahead of the game.”

He said all the repair work was done by staff, and he considers the maintenance part of the normal cost of operating the vessels.

The federal Department of Homeland Security funded the vessel through a $265,306 grant. The aluminum boat arrived in September 2011 and was designed with security, law enforcement, rescue, and firefighting capabilities.