What is this panel on a BC Ferries ferry?

A while back, while riding on the BC Ferries Skeena Queen ([url =“http://www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/fleet/profile-skeena_queen.html”] this one ) I noticed a steel panel on the deck. It’s an oval panel, up near the starboard bow, just a few feet in from the railings. It’s held in place with about 20+ bolts along it’s edge (with 1 bolt every 2-3 inches).

I didn’t take a picture of it (my camera wasn’t working at the time), but here’s a picture where I’ve circled it’s general location. http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn313/starfire42/Shared%20reference/BCFerries-SkeenaQUeen-modded.jpg

Anyway, does anybody know what the heck is or it’s for?

It had too many bolts to be a door (to the bilge area, or a storage compartment) and I can’t imagine anything you’d want an access panel for in that area.

Boats and ships, especially hard-working specialty craft like ferries, have a… boatload of machinery and gear. I’d guess it’s a maintenance access for prop shaft, thruster, rudder or gangway hydraulics. Emphasis on “guess.”

As for the excessive number of bolts, the deck is a highly-stressed structural component. You wouldn’t want a big unreinforced hole in it. It may also be open to the water somewhere below and need to take some pressure-pounding.

Ask a deckhand next time.

Are you aware that you have marked the port stern? :smiley:

Kind of hard to tell which end is which on double ended ferries.

Port and starboard are related to the direction it travels.

As I’ve heard it explained for the Staten Island Ferries, which are all double ended boats with both ends essentially identical, instead of fore and aft, port and starboard, the boats have the Manhattan end, Staten Island end, New Jersey side and Brooklyn side.

Makes sense.

If the cars were turned the other way, it would be the bow. Both ends of this ferry are near identical (at least above the waterline, and ignoring the small set of vent pipes that’s only at one end).

I never had a chance to talk with the crew (they tend to disappear into crew-only areas when they’re not busy with something on the deck), so I don’t know how they refer to the two ends.

Also, thanks to Barbarian for the feedback. I’d assumed the number of bolts was due to water pressure, which didn’t make sense given how far above the waterline it is. It never occurred to me that it might be for structural strength. I’m not used to thinking of the skin or outer* surface as an integral part of the structure (at least not for large vessels like a ferry).

  • relative to the framework, rather than the vessel as a whole, obviously.

I think we’ve discovered an economical method for lowering the cost of launching objects into orbit: at the touch of a button you’ve gotten perfectly good humor high into orbit.:wink:

I come from Seattle, and that’s the tiniest ferry I’ve ever seen. :wink:

You ain’t seen nothing yet: http://user.tninet.se/~xes687v/lina-filer/image004.jpg

It sounds like a standard ship style manhole cover into a void (empty space in hull) or a ballast or fuel tank.

The large number of bolts would be for air/fuel/ water tightness not because it is highly stressed. Deck plating doesn’t usually carry much stress.

Unlikely. these require maintenance and quick access. Having to undo a large number of bolts just to get to the items you mention would be too inconvenient. More likely the cover leads to a space or tank that only has to be opened for inspections relatively rarely (at an annual inspection, say).

That makes a LOT of sense. I recall seeing (on a tv show) a similarly bolted panel on a fuel tank being removed so they could clean the interior.

I don’t know the answer, but you might contact the guys at West Coast Ferries Forum.

Also, everything else you might want to know about the Skeena Queen.