Pontoon Boat Launch – Photos

Getting everything ready at the beginning of the season took several days. Finally on Tuesday morning the last boat in our fleet was ready. It was cool and breezy, but sunny. I was passing by the boat ramp as the divers were preparing to launch, and snapped a bunch of pictures. If you are interested, look below.




Two New Faces

This year we welcome two new members to the dive crew.

Zach Lihatsh will be taking the place of Dan Rippe. Zach lives in Arizona in the winter, but grew up in the upper valley and is well known and trusted by the other divers. In addition to his dive experience Zach is an accomplished welder, a skill that has already proved useful this season.

Replacing Harper Bokum-Fauth as “boat-person” will be his twin brother Toby. Toby attends the College of Wooster, in Ohio. No, he and Harper are fraternal, not identical, twins.

They join returning divers “A.J.” Beard, Ben Rippe, and crew chief Ira Nelson Bokum. Please give them all a warm welcome when you see them on the lake!

The Divers arrive – Getting Ready for the Season

The ice went out late this Year on Lake Fairlee — it disappeared sometime in the last week of April. And the divers returned early this year, arriving on May the 13th. For the first few days they were busy getting equipment ready for the season. The boats were removed from the barn where are stored over the winter. They invariably need patching and repairs. This year the pontoon boat we use for suction harvesting and laying bottom barriers received some modifications and a new deck. We are fortunate that our crew are able to do most of the maintenance and repairs themselves.

The outboard motors get oil changes and lubrication, and occasionally minor repairs. Likewise the motor for the hydraulic pump on the trash rack, and the suction harvester pump. The air tanks have to be reinspected and all of the dive gear checked and brought up to safe working condition.

Our boats spend the winter in a barn donated by a generous lake resident. While the divers were working to get them ready a neighbor who lives not far from the lake stopped by and explained that he had an aluminum boat in his field that hadn’t been used in a decade. He would be glad to donate it and an outboard of similar vintage to our milfoil effort. We wrested it from the grasp of grasses and weeds and you can see it in use on the lake. Thank you Bruce!

We also found a used boat trailer on craigslist to replace one that finally broke for the last time last year. When the divers are handpicking they haul boatloads of wet milfoil up the boat ramp, requiring a very heavy duty trailer. We retrieved this from near Rutland.

All this takes several days, but it must be done before the real work can begin. We are excited to be getting going.

The divers at the barn


A New Crewmember

harper headshotHarper Bokum-Fauth is the newest (and youngest) member of the milfoil crew. He worked on our crew for a while last summer, and we are glad to have him back.

His job is called “boat-person.” He is not a diver, but he supports their activities and is an essential part of the team. When they are handpicking he collects the full bags of milfoil and caries them to the shore, letting the divers spend their time more productively.

Here he is showing pedal dexterity as he patrols around the suction harvester picking up any stray fragments.


Meet the Divers

The success of Lake Fairlee’s milfoil program is due in no small part to our dive team. While other lakes struggle each year to find and train divers, we enjoy a high return rate of seasoned, experienced milfoil divers. In addition to their understanding of milfoil eradication techniques they share a love of nature and the outdoors.

As the new volunteer coordinator of our milfoil program I have been getting to know the members of our team. They are a diverse and eclectic bunch. They have a dedicated, professional attitude about their work, and they like to have fun. I will take this opportunity to tell you a bit about each of them here. If you see them on the lake or at the boat ramp please introduce yourself and thank them for the good work that they do.

IraIra Nelson-Bokum (27) is the head diver. He has seven years experience on the Lake Fairlee milfoil crew, and nine as a PADI certified diver. He claims his winter job is an “off duty diver,” but I happen to know that he traveled in both Scotland and Oregon last winter. He likes rock climbing and keeping his vehicles running on reclaimed vegetable oil.

AJAJ Beard (29) has been diving for eight years, six professionally. He boasts all certifications up through Dive Master, and has a PADI Basic Milfoil certificate. In the off season he is learning to fly helicopters, and hopes to become a Medical Rescue Pilot (EMS). AJ is organized, outgoing, and assertive. He likes hiking, camping, and good company.
DanDan Rippe (24) is the only member of the crew who is married. He started with the Lake Fairlee milfoil team last season. His primary activity in the winter is raising his three year old son. He likes hiking, traveling, and gardening. Although he is the youngest in years and sports wild dreadlocks, he is the family man of the group.

BenBen Rippe (27) is Dan’s brother. He joined the crew this year, when Sacha’s decision to go to school created an opening. He received his open water diving certificate in Austrailia in 2003. He seems quiet and thoughtful, but perhaps he is just new. He plays the banjo and enjoys organic gardening in his time off.

All four of our divers have roots in the Upper Valley. In fact, all four of them attended Hanover High School, at least for a while. They share a strong belief in the goals of our program: the control of milfoil in Lake Fairlee. They thank you for your support and ask your cooperation in their mission.

The Divers are Back

The Divers came back to work on Monday. Between rainshowers they have been getting the boats and motors out of storage and making repairs. I had been told that our equipment was in bad shape, but that was an understatement. The aluminum boats have been patched so many times that . . . I can’t find an adequate image. The one remaining trailer is rusted and its rollers broken off and the frame has bent in the middle. It is used to haul boats full of wet milfoil out of the lake, carrying three times the weight for which they were built.

The LFA Board met on Wednesday evening, at nearly full strength. They approved spending for equipment and discussed how to implement milfoil education at the boat ramp on Saturdays. They approved our participation in the Independence Day parade in Fairlee. And they attended to the all important business of budgeting and fundraising.

This morning I am set to go out on the lake with the divers to see the extent of milfoil growth this summer. More later!