SANTA BARBARA — Over a week ago, the winter storm that struck California’s coast left Santa Barbara Harbor full of sand bars and shallow waters. By Saturday, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were dredging the excess sand out of the waterfront, but their electric dredge broke down later that day.
“The electronic modules failed – it’s an electric so it’s a little different than the diesel,” said Karl Trieberg, waterfront facilities manager for Santa Barbara Harbor. “It’s a specialized part that had to go in for repair in Houston, Texas; it’s being repaired as we speak. If they can repair it today, it’ll be sent back by tomorrow.” T
he Air Resources Board adopted a rule banning diesel dredging in the city in the 1980s.
Harbor operatives estimate that they will have the dredge up and running by Thursday, March 13, Treiberg said.
After working for at least two days, the facilities manager hopes the harbor will be running at full capacity by the end of this weekend. Though the harbor is not technically closed at the moment, officials are asking that boaters refrain from moving in and out of the harbor as much as possible.
“The excess sand has been very restrictive when it comes to boating,” said Doug McConnaughay, harbor operations assistant for Santa Barbara Harbor. “A lot of the commercial and recreational boaters are still flowing in; it hasn’t had a negative impact on the industry but it’s been a bit of a challenge getting in and out of the harbor.” “It’s very shallow,” McConnaughay added. “we’re encouraging people not to go but we understand that they do need to and there are several reasons to do so.”
While boaters are encouraged to stay put, for those that do need to come or go, harbor staff insist on assisting.
“We’re encouraging boaters to contact harbor patrol (going in or out) and we’re helping them out, escorting vessels and getting them off the sand,” McConnaughay said. “We’re going nonstop with the calls, getting people in or out.”
There have been a number of vessels that have gotten stuck on the sand that harbor operations towed off, McConnaughay said. One cruising ship, the Sapphire Princess, which regularly stops in Santa Barbara, had to cancel its stopover in the harbor originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 12.
“The cruise ship sends tenders in and out with passengers that runs about every 10 minutes from the cruise ship to the harbor here and they would not be able to do that continuously throughout the day – that’s why we cancelled,” McConnaughay said. “They do have another stop here on the 20th and we’re anticipating that should be just fine.”