Letter: Port to pay full dredging cost in fall


Jay Bliss
U. S. Coast Guard Licensed Captain
St Augustine Port Commissioner Seat 5

Dear Editor:

In the Tuesday, August 16th meeting of the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District, I attempted to gain support from my fellow commissioners to ask other stakeholders to share in the $300,000 dredging bill we are facing this fall.

The City of St. Augustine, St. Johns County as well as the state special taxing district — Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND), are all urging us to spend; but “can’t contribute”. My motion that we promote joint funding of the dredging project could not find a second — therefore, it failed. Your Port District will fund the dredging on its own.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently paid for their small dredge, Currituck, to move 4000 cubic yards of sand from the channel entrance at St. Augustine to the St. Augustine Beach pier. Fortunately, no red flags were raised by the Turtle Patrol in the process.

A general alert that our critical buoy 5A is missing, gone, sunk, or, whatever remains posted; however, the controlling depth remains unreported. In a couple of weeks, we are hoping to get a replacement 5A buoy from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Buoy 5A marked a shoal. It created a dogleg between buoy 5 and buoy 7. Without the 5A buoy marker, the unwary boater could easily find himself in a foot of water. Often we have a seaway, there’s plenty of whitewater, and the shoal is evident. Knowledgeable boaters will favor the Red; the north side of the channel entrance.

The U.S. Coast Guard advised the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District that our request for red lighted markers in the channel entrance has been denied.

Their reasoning is that it creates a dangerous situation because of the lighted markers in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. My opinion is that they should tell that to the captain of the Sarasota fireboat “Patriot” — that went aground at Porpoise Point while focusing on the lighted ICW markers. There were then, there are now, no lighted inlet markers to follow. If you follow the lighted greens, you will encounter that 5A shoal.

“Thank you” to the folks at Historic City News for publishing my personal observations from the Port and Waterway District meetings each month — I invite the public to attend our meetings; but, if you can’t, I want you to be informed.

Agendas and official minutes for the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District can be found at www.staugustineport.com.

Captain Bliss joined the District in 2006. He brings maritime experience from sailing the Americas, the Caribbean, and New Zealand, along with a broad knowledge of port management in those diverse areas. In our local waters, he volunteers as an active director for SPARS, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching area youth the basics of sailing. Bliss is a member of the Marine Industry Association, a licensed USCG captain, and holds sailing instructor certifications from USSA and ASA through level 205.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer