In Port Day

As the day progressed, the sea calmed and the air temperature rose.

The old pier is about 150 meters long and they are adding another 30 m to it this month. The construction has been interesting to watch over the past 7~8 weeks. There are two sections of pier at Mikura's port: the old pier was built in sections and took ~30 years from start to this point and the new pier which took about 6 years (so far). The new pier is an 'L' shape and is more protected for the boats to remain on the water as opposed to being lifted in and out each day.

The old pier is angled slightly and has a small cove like area to its left about 25 m from the shore. The end of the old pier juts out from Mikura into water that is ~40-50 meters deep. For the last 2 months, boats have been bringing rocks (tons) to bring the depth higher and level off the sea floor to ready it for the new pier. The entire pier is based on the sea floor with cement and rocks. When ready, now, they will float in a caisson (a huge block) that has an 8 meter draft and is at least 25 m tall. They will position the caisson adjacent to the end of the old pier and then sink it with big cement blocks. More cement blocks will be placed at depth to the sides of the caisson thus anchoring it. Then, another big block (caisson) will be brought out and placed over this to form the extension to the pier. This is then anchored to the existing portion of the pier. Rather an intricate process.

They were supposed to position the caisson yesterday but Mother Nature had other plans. The sea conditions were rough with a 2 m swell. So, I believe they will start the process tomorrow. It will be interesting to watch.

The extension will be useful in allowing longer ferry boats to visit Mikura. In fact, there is a 'super-liner' that will make the trek from Tokyo to Miyake, Mikura, Hachijo and then to Ogasawara (Bonin Islands) beginning in March 2005. The trip to Ogasawara is about 22 hours with the ferry being much large than the ~110 m vessels that usually come to Mikura.

Till tomorrow, and hopefully a boat trip,