More than 90% of the money we raise goes to salaries and benefits for our divers. The next portion pays for gasoline for the outboards (increased 50% this year) and for compressed air refills for their tanks. There are scant extra funds for equipment and repairs.
Sometimes this results in wasted time. This photo was taken one afternoon when the 25Hp Mercury that drives the pontoon boat had broken down. Ira is visible at the far left trying to crank it, while Leon dragged the pontoon boat and a trash rack full of wet milfoil halfway down the lake with the 8Hp skiff. It took several days to get the Mercury repaired, and the repairs cost more than they might have because of our hurry to get it back in service. We have no backup.
We rely on the generosity of our members and friends for our boats. Most have been donated or home-built. We are fortunate to have a multi-talented dive crew. They are regularly able to coax the hydraulic pump for the trash rack back into health, to fiberglass patches on the skiffs, or to weld new engine mounts as required.
Our divers provide their own gear, from tanks and regulators to diving suits. They are unfortunately used to making do with equipment that is barely adequate. Safety is not being compromised, but comfort and convenience are. The LFA board has wanted to buy the divers new dry suits for at least two years, but we just don’t have the money — or, rather, we have decided to spend the limited money we have directly on the milfoil problem.
Our greatest need now is for some new outboard motors for next year. We are hoping to find someone who might donate one in the 20-30hp range. Two of our three usable motors are two-stroke – the kind where you mix oil with the gasoline. We want to use only four-stroke motors if possible as they are much more environmentally friendly to the lake.
So thank you for your help so far, and please be on the look out for someone who is about to get rid of a used outboard motor. But not too used, please.