Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dredging Operations

Our Marina is located on a salt water tidal river.   Because it is connected to and fed by the ocean, it ebbs and flows with the tide.  I share this with you so that you might understand the huge volume of water that rushes in from the ocean for six hours then rushes back out again.  Our tidal changes average out to be about seven feet.  Sometimes it’s higher than that and sometimes a little bit less.  The speed of this current flow is four and a half miles per hour at peak and dead calm at slack.

 

This movement of unbelievable quantities of water is a huge force to be reckoned with.  It moves things, particularly the silt and soil that the banks and bottom are made of.  This causes shoaling in certain areas and washouts in others.  The banks of these tidal rivers shift continually.

 

Our marina is subject to this shoaling and we have to dredge out the bottom about every ten years to keep the depth in and around the marina deep enough.  To do this effectively is a huge engineering feat and takes careful measurements, planning, and execution.

 

The first problem is where does one put all the mud and silt that we are going to suck up off the bottom to make the river deeper?  There are very rigid regulations concerning an operation like this and the permitting process is a long and drawn out affair involving the Corps of Engineers and the department of Natural Resources.  The process usually takes about two years just to obtain the proper permits.  The permit is not granted without a detailed account of how you are going to dispose of the spoil material.

 

There are three means of disposing spoil material legally.  One, you have a piece of land designated as a spoil area where you pump the material onto.  Two, you haul the material away by trucks to an approved spoil area.  Three, you pile the material onto a barge and ship it out to sea to an approved spoil area and dump it in the ocean.  In our case, we own the island across the creek from the marina and have kept it for many, many years as a designated spoil area.

 

Two months before the dredging operation began, a huge barge was brought to the shore of the island and heavy equipment was unloaded to plow and shape the area to receive the spoil material.  The area is surrounded by a tall dyke and shaped so the spoil material settles on one side and the water drains to the other and is filtered, clean, back into the river or creek.

 

Here are two aerial views of our spoil area.  The dredging had already begun when these were taken and you can see the solid material accumulating on the one side as the water settles to the other and drains.

 

  

 

The challenge for me, as Dock Master, during the dredging project is to clear the boats out of sections of the marina to allow the dredge to operate in the marina safely without the risk of damaging the boats. Moving the boats also allows the dredge to dig out areas where the boats would normally dock. Here is a picture of the dredging equipment tied up in an area where I had just moved out all the boats.  Notice the boats still left in the marina.

 

 

Here is another shot from a different angle.

 

 

The way the manager of the dredging operations and I worked out the plan, each section we cleared out would take about one week to complete.  So, each week, I had to clear out a section of the marina and park the boats in other parts of the marina.  Then, a week later, I had to move those boats back to their spots and clear out the next section to be dredged.  Here is a shot of the next section to be dredged after the section shown above.  Notice the boats have been moved back to the right side of the right hand dock and the lack of boats in the area between these two docks.

 

 

The equipment for this kind of operation can be just as interesting as the operation itself.  The company we hired for the job had a small little tugboat custom made for them to use with their dredging barge.  Here is a shot of “The Mighty Mouse” tug.  The tug was aptly named!

 

 

This next photo is a shot of the dredging barge shot from the rear.  The little skiff and the Mighty Mouse are docked in front of the barge.  The dredging barge has no engine for propulsion.  It is moved around by the tug and the little skiff.  The tall things that look like legs are called spuds.  Each spud is dropped down and digs into the bottom to hold the dredging barge in place to allow it to dig up a particular area.

 

 

The barge has an arm that moves up and down and can be manipulated to the right and to the left.  On the end of that arm is a rotating drill head with a pipe in the center of the drill head.  The drill head digs up the bottom and the pipe sucks up the material much the same as a vacuum cleaner would suck up dirt.

 

 

Here is a close up shot of the drilling head.  I’ve seen steel pipe that was laying on the bottom that was cut clean in two when hit with this drill head.  It is driven with awesome power and really did a great job in our marina.

 

 

Marina operations had to continue all during the dredging operations and I was continually radioing instructions to boats who were trying to get past the dredge while dredging was taking place.  The dredging in the creek, where all the above pictures were taken, is completed and they are now dredging out front in the river portion of the marina.  The entire project should be wrapped up in another two weeks, just in time for our summer boating season.

 

The dredging operation progressed through our marina in a very calm and orderly fashion.  This was due to great planning and good execution on the part of the marina staff as well as the dredging staff.  I am very pleased with the outcome and am already receiving congratulations from my boss on a job well done.  I have to say, though, that I am very glad this has to be done only once every ten years.

 

I’m going to leave you with one more aerial shot of the spoil island only because I think it’s pretty and I wanted to squeeze it in.

 

 

Today is my lovely wife's birthday and she has taken the day off.  I have plied Paulette with cards and gifts and will escort her later to the restaurant of her choice.  I think we're going to have a nice meal and a great time.  I hope you all have a great week!

25 comments:

memes121 said...

Great story and pics Sam! Tell your wife Happy Birthday!

jevanslink said...

Happy Birthday Paulette!!  And another great sea story from our favorite boatman!!!  You're a great teacher and storyteller.  Mrs. L

rollinghillsides said...

A very enjoyable entry Sam, and beautiful pictures to accompany it!  Happy to see you're able to slip in some entries here for all of your fans.   Here's wishing Paulette a most marvelous birthday, and a wonderful celebration dinner tonight for the two of you!    Judy, in CT

justplainbill said...

Sam, I am not a boating man but have always loved the water and boats. Unfortunately I am land locked. Would love to dock at your spot and shake hands with the Dock Master.
The dredging operation sounds like a really big job but well planned and executed.
Thanks for the very interesting and educational post.

Happy birthday to Paulette.

gdireneoe said...

Sam, your entries are always so interesting!  HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Miss Paulette!  Let him spoil you Ma'am!  OK, gotta "Q"...the soil that is removed, you called it "spoil"...does that mean it is unfit to use as improvement to other areas?  I recall the dilemma Tybee was in when I was down there for my first year in college.  Can that be used for projects like that?  Great pics.  Nice to see you hon. ;)  C.  http://journals.aol.com/gdireneoe/thedailies

ksquester said...

Oh Happy Birthday to Paulette....hope your dinner is delightful. Savannah has such devine restaurants.......some of my favorites.  This post was very informative. I had no idea such things had to take place. Sounds like a lot of hard serious work.   Anne

ondinemonet said...

Hi Sam :)

I like these entries very much. The ones where you describe what life at the Marina is like and what all your job entails. Not to metion the great pictures. You know me, I could look at nautical photos all day. Please wish Paulette a very Happy Birthday from me. :) I hope you guys have a wonderful, relaxing day together. :)

Always, Carly :)

ally123130585918 said...

Sam thankyou for all that information ~ I just never realised how much work goes into keeping your Marina fit for use ~ thankyou for explaining to us ~ and the photographs are great ~ hope Paulette is having a good Birthday and enjoys her outing tonight ~ Ally

mutualaide said...

Happy Birthday Paulette!  Sam -- so glad you shared this experience with us.  I enjoy learning about 'new to me things'.  The pictures are great and you are correct, the bottom one is very pretty!

gravydogg55 said...

A VERY NICE PRESENTATION THERE.
  I HAD NO IDEA OF THE SIZE OF THE MARINA UNTIL SEEING THE PHOTOS.
     HAVING LIVED IN THE FLINTROCK HILLS OF EASTERN OKLAHOMA DURING HIGH SCHOOL DAYS AND IN COLORADO BEFORE THAT, HAD NEVER BEEN NEAR THE OCEAN UNTIL WORLD WAR 2 CAME ALONG.
   TRAINING IN THE STATES HERE A WHILE AND HAD THREE WEEKS OF A FIRST HAND LOOK AT THE OCEAN AS WE PROGRESSED TO BRISBANE, TRANSFERRED EQUIPMENT TO A SMALL FREIGHT SHIP AND ON TO NEW GUINEA.
   A FEW WEEKS IN GUSAP VALLEY AND ON TO 'TADJI', OUR AIRSTRIP (I WAS IN GROUND CREW,5TH AIR FORCE).
     THE FEW WEEKS AT TADJI WAS VERY EDUCATIONAL REGARDING TIDES,INCOMING AND OUTGOING.
      IT WAS AMAZING TO WE COUNTRY BOYS, THE MOVEMENT AND POWER OF THE TIDE AND THE BUILDUP OF SAND THAT OCCURED ON THE BEACHES.
     DURING REST PERIODS WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME OUT IN THE WATER AND NEVER SAW A SHARK.
    HOWEVER THERE WERE STINGRAYS THAT CAUSED SEVERE BURNS ON SOLDIERS OCCASIONALLY.
        THANKS FOR EXPLAINING THE DREDGING PROCESS AND THE PHOTO OF THE MACHINE THAT DOES THE DIGGING.
      I KNEW OF ONE OF THOSE MACHINES BEING USED IN THE NAVIGATION CHANNEL FROM THE PORT OF CATOOSA SOUTH TOWARD THE GULF OF MEXICO. PART OF THEIR PROBLEM HOWEVER IS LOGS AND LIMBS COMING DOWN THE VERDIGRIS RIVER OUT OF NORTHERN OKLAHOMA.
     IN EVENT THIS INLAND NAVIGATION CHANNEL IS A SURPRISE TO YOU, PRINT ON KEYWORD, CATOOSA NAVIGATION CHANNEL OKLAHOMA.
   IT WAS A 6 BILLION DOLLAR PROJECT. IN MY OPINION, A BOONDOGGLE EXPENSE AND HEADACHE.       SAM

nightmaremom said...

Thanks for the share, very interesting indeed.  Better you then me having to deal with it :)  Happy Birthday Paulette, I hope all your dreams and wishes come true!
hugs to you both
d

jlocorriere05 said...

Happy birthday Paulette, I hope you enjoy your meal! Thanks for sharing your story of how the marina is dredged and looked after. It sounds like a lot of hard work for you, such a big place to look after. Enjoy Easter! Jeannette.

childebrand1968 said...

You know, Sam, I've always loved water and boats... but I am fascinated by all this!  Never thought I'd get into dredging so much... LOL!

I agree that the spoil island is pretty, too.  Very interesting :)

I'm amazed how all this is accomplished...

Happy Birthday to Paulette!!  Enjoy dinner :)

Cat

rivercitygirl1 said...

Thank you Sam for sharing a day at work with you.  I had no idea what a Dock Master does.  Being a Florida girl, I love being near water, be it the river or the ocean.....and a very happy, happy birthday to your wife Paulette.  I hope you two have a lovely time at dinner.
Tami
http://journals.aol.com/rivercitygirl1/PicturePages

bedazzzled1 said...

Happy Birthday to your wife!

Okay, this dredging project is very interesting to me. I have a question about it. When you bring the mud and silt to the island, is there any possibility that in the course of time and with repeated deposits that it could become a problem...too much there? That you would have to remove some from there to accomodate additional deposits? Am I even making any sense? LOL

Great photos, by the way. That drilling head is nasty looking!

shadierush said...

Wow, that was a really interesting and informative entry! I enjoyed it alot. Thank You.
Shadie

jmorancoyle said...

    Happy birthday, Paulette! May this year be better than last year, and may next be better yet.
    Thank you for the lesson in dredging. It was facinating.
Jude
http://journals.aol.com/jmorancoyle/MyWay

slbourgoyne said...

Wonderful pictures and good explanation.  Loved it.

Happy birthday to Paulette.

Love ya'll,  Lynn

astaryth said...

First, a big Happy Birthday to Paulette! And Second, WOW! That is sooo cool. I loved the pictures, and the explanation of how it all works. I lived for many years in a town on the banks of the Mississippi, and would often see Dredge barges working, it is truly an amazing endeavor... made more so since I now know what has to go on behind the scenes!
http://journals.aol.com/astaryth/AdventuresofanEclecticMind
http://adventuresofaneclecticmind.blogspot.com/

lurkynat said...

Happy Birthday Paulette!
Thank you Sam for explaining this difficult process! Have a great Holiday weekend!
love and hugs, natalie
ps will you guys see some friends this weekend?

onemoretina said...

    Hey, Sam.... thanks so much for sharing this description of the dredging operation, and the processes involved.  Glad you had pictures, because it made the whole process even more clear.  That sounds like a huge undertaking.  Judging from the description,  I'm surprised it doesnt take even longer than it does.  It must be your organizational expertise that speeds things along !  
   Hope your wife enjoyed her special day.  Belated Birthday greetings, Paulette !
And a Happy Easter to you both.   Luv&Hugs, Tina

mavarin said...

Wow, there's so much here I have no clue about, and would like to learn, sometime when I'm less sleep deprived. You're right about that last photo - it's my favorite. -Karen

stupidsheetguy said...

What a great story, complete with the best photographs...this was worthy of The Discovery Channel my friend!

Happy Birthday to your lovely Wife!


Jimmy

piperacharmed1 said...

Not too often that I learn something while I read journals  : )  Sounds like alot of stress though! Happy birthday to your wife..hope you have a great evening together!

Tracie

leanntepoorten said...

You lost me at 'dredge'. That is a lot of information to absorb but in the end, I had to think about the vacuum that we use in our fish tank for some reason. Yes, I know it's definately not nearly as intricate but in the end I think they accomplish the same thing????

Thanks for stopping at my blog, it was nice to hear from you.