Live-aboards lose electric heat nightly

Delay in arrival of new transformers forces Aurora Harbor officials to limit use of electricity

Posted: Friday, September 17, 2004

Woodrow Fralix woke up Thursday morning to an orange warning tag on his boat.

"You need to limit your use of power," said the tag, issued from the Aurora Harbormaster's Office. "Citation will be issued if violation not corrected within one day."

For the past three months, power has become a problem at Aurora Harbor, where Fralix has lived in a 26-foot boat since June.

The Juneau Docks and Harbors Department shut down the power on floats J, K, L and N on June 21 to replace the harbor's transformers and electrical cables. Although harbor officials had planned to turn the power back on Aug. 20, they haven't been able to do so because of a delay in the project.

"Our contractor said the transformers would arrive in late June but we won't get them until later this month. The transformers are en route from Florida," said Port Engineer Mike Krieber. "We are expecting to turn the power back on in early October."

On Sept. 1 the city's contractor, Dawson Construction, hooked a temporary generator to the floats. But the temporary power capacity is 50 amps per float. The circuit breaker has tripped almost every day since. Boaters don't need to pay for the electricity, though.

Krieber encourages harbor users to conserve power. As it is, everyone with electric heat in the harbor loses it nightly.

"If all people have their electrical heaters on, the circuit breaker is going to be kicked off," Krieber said. "When it kicks off, nobody gets the juice."

Harbormaster Lou McCall said he sent Fralix a warning because he received an e-mail from a harbor user who accused Fralix of "consistently exceeding the power threshold."

Fralix said he has been conserving the power. He said when he and his neighbor watch a movie at his boat, they turn everything else off on their boats. But he needs the electrical heater to keep him warm at night.

"It's getting pretty darn cold at night," Fralix said. "The Docks and Harbors people need to do something quick."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at

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