East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

NJ ICW, Manasquan River Rt. 35 Bridge Closures Planned:
From the USCG Fifth District, LNM 05/30 dated July 26, 2005: The Coast Guard proposes to temporarily change the regulations that govern the operation of the Route 35 Bridge, at ICW mile 1.1, across Manasquan River, at Brielle, NJ. The proposal would maintain the bridge in the closed-to-navigation position on three four-month closure periods beginning from 8 a.m. on November 1, 2006 until 5 p.m. on March 1, 2007; from 8 a.m. on November 1, 2007 until 5 p.m. on March 1, 2008; and from 8 a.m. on November 1, 2008 until 5 p.m. on March 1, 2009. The extensive structural, mechanical, and electrical repairs and improvements necessitate these closures. Comments on this proposal should be forwarded to the above address (COMMANDER, FIFTH COAST GUARD DISTRICT, attention (obr), 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, Virginia, 23704-5004) no later than September 6, 2005. Copies of PUBLIC NOTICE 5-1049 which describes the proposal in detail can be obtained by writing to the above address or by calling (757) 398-6629.

This bridge has 30 ft vertical clearance.

Cape May Inlet, NJ Shoaling Again:
US Army Corps of Engineers survey on July 6, 2005 reports shoaling to a depth of 9 feet at MLW in Cape May Inlet. This shoaling is located on the centerline of the channel in line with the Cape May Inlet range approximately 100 yards northwest of the end of the eastern tip of the inlet’s jetty. Mariners with draft limitations or concerns should use extreme caution when transiting this inlet.

Fast, Fun, and Noisy--August and September in the Mid Atlantic:
The latest USCG Local Notices, 5th District, 05/29, Dated August 16, 2005, listed four different fast-boat racing events for the Mid Atlantic states.

Washington (NC) Fire & Rescue Outboard Drag Boat Association will host the “Plymouth Drag Boat Race” on August 14, 2005. The all day event will include approximately 30 vessels ranging from 13 - 20 feet in length, racing a course in Plymouth, NC.

On August 12, 13 and 14, 2005, the American Power Boat Association will sanction the “Hampton Cup Regatta” powerboat races on Mill Creek, near Fort Monroe, Hampton, Virginia. The event will consist of approximately 100 hydroplanes and jersey speed skiffs racing in heats counter-clockwise around an oval racecourse. A fleet of spectator vessels is anticipated. Due to the need for vessel control during the races, vessel traffic will be temporarily restricted to provide for the safety of participants, spectators and transiting vessels.

The “Sunset Lake Hydrofest” will take place on September 24 and 25, 2005, on the waters of Sunset Lake, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. The event will consist of approximately 100 inboard hydroplanes, Jersey Speed Skiffs and flat-bottom ski boats racing in heats counter-clockwise around an oval racecourse. A fleet of approximately 100 spectator vessels is expected to gather nearby to view the competition. Due to the need for vessel control during the event, vessel traffic will be temporarily restricted to provide for the safety of participants, spectators and transiting vessels.

On September 25, 2005, the Chesapeake Bay Powerboat Association will sponsor the “2005 Cambridge Offshore Challenge”, on the waters of the Choptank River at Cambridge, Maryland. The event will consist of approximately 40 offshore powerboats conducting high-speed competitive races between the Route 50 Bridge and Oystershell Point, MD. A fleet of approximately 250 spectator vessels is expected to gather nearby to view the competition. Due to the need for vessel control during the event, vessel traffic will be temporarily restricted to provide for the safety of participants, spectators and transiting vessels.

New Names: Fifth District US Coast Guard SECTOR Hampton Roads, SECTOR FIELD OFFICE Eastern Shore:
Coast Guard “Group Hampton Roads” and its “Marine Safety Office” are now to be called “Sector Hampton Roads.” “Group Eastern Shore” is now “Sector Field Office (SFO) Eastern Shore.” The change is in the name; the geographical area of coverage and responsibilities are basically the same.

Sector Hampton Roads: Address: Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, 4000 Coast Guard Boulevard, Portsmouth, VA 23703-2199. Contact: General Number, (757) 483–8565, Sector Commander: CAPT R. O’Brien, Jr. Deputy Sector Commander: CDR J. Kenyon. Chief, Prevention Department: (757) 668–5535, Chief, Response Department: (757) 638-2703, Chief, Logistics Department: (757) 483–8515. Sector Command Center, (757) 668-5555.

SFO Eastern Shore: Address: 3823 Main Street, Chincoteague, VA. 23336-0001. General Number, (757) 336-2855.

Altamaha Sound, GA Markers Permanently Discontinued:
This is NOT the ICW, but the inlet from the ocean into Altamaha Sound.
USCG 7th District Local Notice to Mariners 0730 dated July 26, 2005 advises that due to severe shoaling the following changes will be made to the aids to navigation system at Altamaha Sound:

ALTAHAMA SOUND LIGHTED BUOY 2 will be permanently discontinued.
ALTAHAMA SOUND LIGHT 4 will be change to ALTAHAMA SOUND SHOAL LIGHT, Displaying Flashing White 2.5s and worded “DANGER SHOAL.”.
ALTAHAMA SOUND BUOY 5 will be permanently discontinued.
ALTAHAMA SOUND BUOY 7 will be permanently discontinued.
This project will be completed the week of August 17, 2005.

Dredging in Palm Valley, Mile 749-759, and at the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge, Mile 744.7:
Finally! That shallow hump just south of the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge has been growing for years, and Palm Valley has been so shallow that tugs couldn’t plow through it. The same LNM quoted above reports that the dredge “Hampton Roads” will commence dredging in these areas on August 2, 2005, ending on or about January 25, 2006. The dredge will stand by on VHF 16 for maneuvering information.

Marinas to Condos--Recent Developments:

North Carolina
This is in North Carolina, but the issue it presents is important to every boat owner in the country, as public marinas and boatyards are becoming more and more scarce.

Southport Marina is currently in danger of going the way of many Florida marinas, despite strenuous opposition by local citizens. The marina has three public boat ramps with adequate trailer parking space to serve the area, 200 slips, fuel dock, and a boatyard. The land has long been owned by the State Port Authority and leased to a private management group that operates the marina. Recently developers have placed bids on the property amidst talk of plans for condo construction and private ownership of the boat slips. Hearings are currently taking place on the fate of this prime waterfront real estate, which also happens to be a strategically located marina and boatyard for ICW and ocean-going travelers, as well as the only public access to the water in the Southport area. Many locals would like to see the land returned to the city of Southport. Co-Chairman of the Committee to Save Southport Marina, Woody Wilson, can be contacted at wayfarer@ec.rr.com.

A Few Bright Spots in Florida

According to Lori Becker, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer in an article posted Sunday, July 3, 2005 on PalmBeachPost.com, in June, Gov. Jeb Bush signed two laws that would protect public access to waterways and preserve the “working waterfront.” One law requires coastal communities to change rules to encourage preservation of recreational and commercial waterfront. Property taxes could be deferred as an enticement. The other streamlines the state Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting process for boat ramps and smaller public marinas.

Becker also points out that Martin and St Lucie Counties are working to develop a “no net loss” policy. Existing “working waterfront” commercial areas could not be developed for residential purposes unless an alternate site is found for a comparable marine facility. This would protect existing numbers, but not allow for expansion of marine services. Palm Beach County voters approved a $50 million bond issue to help buy out the development rights of marina owners and to expand ramp facilities. But with the huge amounts of money involved in condo development, $50 million won’t go far.

These following details and numbers came from a Sunday, July 17, 2005 posting on the Miami Herald site, Herald.com by Sara Blumenthal. Boca Developers are planning to build “Marina Grande,” two 24-story towers with 468 condos, on the site of Maule Lake Marina (newly renamed Loggerhead Resort) on Biscayne Boulevard (Route 1) in North Miami Beach. Never mind that city zoning only allowed 15 stories and a maximum density of 32 units per acre of dry land. Rezoning by the city council allowed the 24 stories; the population density issue was taken care of by the developers figuring in the acreage of the dry land as well as eight acres of “submerged land”--the marina, you know, where the boats are tied up—in the water in Maule Lake. Blumenthal points out that there is only enough “dry” land for 202 units. A coalition of local citizens filed suit and recently won. A three-judge panel of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court appellate division ruled that “the City Council failed to properly apply” the code. Maule Lake is a place I know quite well. We saw the “working waterfront” boatyard section of the marina dismantled last year with a number of jobs terminated. We observed the conversion of an old “single wide” into a fancy sales office with appropriate landscaping that now occupies half of the marina parking lot. The sales office is still open, appeals are pending, and the boat owners continue to have a place to tie up for now.

The Monroe County Commission (the Florida Keys) has passed a nine-month moratorium on the redevelopment or conversion of “working waterfront” areas.
Commentary: I think at least some politicians must be finally getting it--marinas, boatyards and commercial fishing just might be important to the state’s economy. All those folks buying the condos want to be able to keep their fancy boats in marinas or launch them at ramps, and they may need to get them repaired while they are off making enough money to pay for the condo and the boat. Then they may want to impress their visiting friends by taking them diving or sport fishing on charter boats. And they sure want to eat “fresh off the boat” local lobster, shrimp, stone crab, tuna, grouper, etc. If you don’t have public marinas and boatyards, the people buying all those condos—not to mention the general public--aren’t going to have any place to keep or maintain their boats.

This information is not to be used for navigation. Consult the latest charts and Local Notices to Mariners and use prudent seamanship. Any person or entity that uses this information in any way, as a condition of that use, agrees to waive and does waive any and all claims which may arise from that use.

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale