The dredging project in the Dania Cutoff Canal near Ft. Lauderdale is proceeding faster than planned, already past Dania Cut Super Yacht Repair.
In late October, the dredge equipment moved beyond the yard, making way for the shipyard to begin plans to dredge its basin, said shipyard operations manager Jason Harrington.
“The project is going well and may be completed earlier than March,” said David K. Roach, executive director of the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND). FIND provides the majority of money required to dredge the canal and oversees the project.
The increase in depth, from about 10 feet to 17 feet, will allow larger vessels to navigate the Dania Cutoff Canal en route to marinas and yards including Harbour Towne Marina, Broward Shipyard, Dania Cut Super Yacht Repair, Playboy Marine Center and Derecktor.
A second dredging project is scheduled to begin in late 2013 and will head north of Port Everglades into Ft. Lauderdale, Roach said. That will give yachts entering through Port Everglades even more deep water options.
“This will allow larger yachts access to marinas in the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show,” Roach said.
The project is awaiting permits and then will dredge in the Intracoastal Waterway from the port north to the main docks of the boat show at Bahia Mar marina, the Las Olas city docks and Hall of Fame Marina.
But first the ongoing project in Dania must be completed. Roach said the process, which began in July has been fairly smooth and on schedule.
“The lead up to the dredging was nerve wracking, but we saw very little disruption,” Harrington said.
The digging encountered one delay in September when dredges encountered hard limestone.
“Where ground water meets salt water, the water table makes the substance harder,” Roach said. “And it was difficult to cut through with the environmental bucket.”
The original bucket, the part of the dredge which digs into the land beneath the water, was a type that closed completely, called an “environmental” bucket.
“Very little water escapes,” Roach said, because most of the water and mud is captured and put on the barge. This means less disruption and turbidity in the water, leaving the waterway clearer during the dredging, he said.
“Now we are using a different bucket on the dredge to get through the limestone,” said Roach. “The good thing is that barges are being filled quicker, which means more openings per day for boaters to pass.”
The equipment is continuing to dredge west toward U.S. 1 to finish the navigable section of the canal. The dredging at the western edge of the canal is expected to ease the often 3-knot current under the bridge.
As the project in the canal is under way, businesses are planning ahead. Several companies along the shores will deepen their own waters after the work. Kevin KIar, vice president of Dania Cut Super Yacht Repair, said the yard will take advantage of the equipment in the canal to dredge near their docks and seawalls when the FIND project is completed.
“We’ll be piggybacking off the project,” KIar said. “December through January is a good time for us to deepen in here. The goal is to have 17 feet within the next six months.
“Each property owner is responsible for their own depth because FIND only does the navigable canal,” he said.
Playboy Marine and G&G Shipping will probably also dredge their waters, Roach said.
Derecktor of Florida likely won’t, as the draft issue for its clients was simply getting up the canal, said James Brewer, business development of Derecktor of Florida.
“The draft within the confines of the yard is generally sufficient for our needs,” Brewer said.
For the future dredging in Ft. Lauderdale, Roach said the Ft. Lauderdale Beach Community Redevelopment Area is looking into assisting with money to dredge waters along the docks and seawalls affected in the 2013-14 project.
“They are already reconfiguring the Las Olas city docks,” Roach said of upcoming city plans for the marina.
A FIND press release states the Dania Cut project is expected to increase megayacht service and repair business as well as shipping services. It is expected to increase marine economic output by $3.6 million to $9.2 million a year and add 24 to 38 new jobs.
“All of this dredging is to support safer, and more, megayacht traffic in the Ft. Lauderdale area,” Roach said.
And Broward County yards and marinas are taking full advantage.
“Our business model is larger yachts and this dredging allows them to come here because of new depths of 17 feet at mean low water,” Harrington said. “We’re about to have three 200-footers. Now, we can comfortably hold yachts up to 300 feet.
“Things have changed in this industry,” he said. “One hundred and ninety feet used to be a big yacht, now it’s just average. I talked with a 303-foot yacht in Monaco that has never been to the United States. Now they’re considering.”
A variety of vessels including barges, tugs, workboats and dredging equipment are still in the navigational canal and are in operation beginning at 6 a.m. Every two to three hours boats have about 15 minutes to pass the equipment. Workers are monitoring channel 69 in the area.
For update on canal dredging by telephone recording, call +1 772-403-2076. Captains may contact Roach at email@example.com or at +1 561-627-3386 with questions.
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.