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Save the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry

$15,930 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 198 people in 7 months
Created June 6, 2018
The Bemus Point Stow Ferry on Chautauqua Lake has been running since 1811 and is one of only a few cable ferries left in the US. It used to be part of the. State Highway Department but now is operated by a volunteer organization every weekend throughout the summer season. It is a part of Chautauqua County history and a fond memory of childhood rides by many. It carries up to nine cars and many bikers, motorcyclists and foot traffic back and forth across the narrows of Chautauqua Lake, NY. 

She didn’t pass her yearly inspection this year and requires major structural repairs before it can be placed back in service. Our strong volunteer not-for-profit organization is small but very dedicated to keeping the Ferry running every summer. Our funding can start the job but we need major support from the pubilc to complete all the required repairs. 

We have lots of folks volunteering to do grunt work, specialized repairs and help us with the funding. What we need now is help from you. No donation is too small to do big things. The Sea Lion Project Ltd. has only one purpose, to keep the Ferry running every summer at the center of her community. Your help will be greatly appreciated
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Update 11
Posted by Chris Flanders
1 month ago
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On Sunday, December 2nd the sun was shining and the winds were calm and the temperature was in the mid-50s, a very unusual day for the beginning of December in Chautauqua County. The workers, board members and people intimately connected to the Bemus Point Stow Ferry gathered to take a couple of transits of the Ferry on her cables. This is, you all know by now, a highly emotional trip..........the emotion joy rather than sadness after a long summer of repairs to the non-functioning Ferry.

We went down the ramp onto the bare metal decking, still strewn with the debris of repair. We stepped over the exposed I-beams, old and new and avoided stepping on the shaft that connects the two paddle-wheels. John Weise, the guru of repair for the Ferry and often , in her trips back and forth from Stow to Mayville and back, the helmsman, started the Connins Engine and Ro Woodard, in her Santa hat closed the familiar striped gate.

We slowly took off heading to Bemus Point all of us happy. We arrived with a little bump at the Bemus landing, all of us cheering our success. A voice from behind me said "not yet, we need to get back to Stow before we can cheer. We all turned around to face Stow and we all held our cheering and whistling until we bumped at the Stow landing.

It has been a long summer of dirty and strenuous preparation for the repairs needed to get the Ferry accredited to operate again by the State Marine Surveyors. Hours and hours of work by our volunteers and the hours and hours of marine quality welding have taken place. Much of the long list of repairs have been completed. On the trip down to Stow in October, the bilges remained dry. Even with over a foot of snow and weeks of rain on the bare deck, they remained dry on our trip across the narrows.

It is with pride that we say we are close to done with our repairs of the Ferry, but before you all celebrate, there is more to do. There are some issues with the hull, metal that has almost 75 years of service . There is also a lot of finish work needed to get the drainage systems refitted and the wooden decking installed in easily removed sections rather than long ungainly and heavy parts.

So, celebration at running the Ferry in her most stripped down state is appropriate, but we remind you, we are not done yet. We are consulting with the State Surveyors on a plan to do the rest of the restoration or replacement of the hull if that is what they ask over several years. We will know more early in the spring and will let you know the amount of work needed before the 2019 season and the financial impact of this on us.

Our repairs so far have been covered by your generous contributions, financial as well as in work or supplies donated. Thank you from the bottom of our collected hearts. Have a beautiful holiday season and we look forward to more updates for you after the first of the year.
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Update 10
Posted by Chris Flanders
2 months ago
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Sam checking for leaks in the bilges of the Ferry while under way......so far so good! John Weise steering the Ferry around Long Point State Park.......almost to Stow. The weather was stormy, mostly dark clouds, some sleet, some hail, but some shafts of sunlight. We finally made it thanks to John's good steering. It was especially hard to steer her when we turned broadsides to the wind and waves to get into the dock. She is home for the winter months. We await spring to continue our structural repairs and hope for a successful season plying the waters between Stow and Bemus Point. Thanks for all your support. Keep watching for more updates.
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Update 9
Posted by Chris Flanders
2 months ago
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More photos underway......with the waves and winds getting stronger and stronger......the flag was snapping in the wine. My turn at steering the 90 ton rectangular barge down the lake......not the most streamlined or lightweight vessel I've ever sailed!
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Update 8
Posted by Chris Flanders
2 months ago
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Some additional photos of the Ferry and all of us trying to get her off the cradle in the water and turned down the lake toward our goal of the dock in Stow.
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$15,930 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 198 people in 7 months
Created June 6, 2018
Funds raised will benefit:
Sea Lion Project Ltd
Certified Charity
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Bemus Point, NY
EIN: 161128803
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