Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater Pass dredging begins, is promptly delayed by equipment problems

CLEARWATER — The boat channel through Clearwater Pass, a much-used route to and from the Gulf of Mexico, is getting shallow from a buildup of sand swept in by the tides. In some spots, the water is only 5 feet deep.

A long-delayed dredging of the channel has finally begun. But now it's being hampered by technical difficulties.

A dredging vessel sent by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers got a few days of work done before it had mechanical problems with a propulsion unit.

Then a thousand-pound ducted propeller called a "Kort nozzle" became detached from the boat and sank to the bottom of the pass. The vessel has retreated to a shipyard in Tarpon Springs for repairs.

"This is a brand new vessel built in Louisiana. This is its first job, so they're working the bugs out, so to speak," said Clearwater harbormaster Bill Morris.

The dredging started on Aug. 6. At this point, it probably won't be done until mid-September.

"The dredging is only supposed to take 15 work days. I'd say they've gotten probably three to four days of dredging done," Morris said.

The channel was last dredged 10 years ago. These days, boaters braving the channel have dinged propellers, dragged keels and run aground.

The city has committed $1 million to dredge up to 70,000 cubic yards of sand from the channel. The muck will be dumped a couple of hundred yards northwest of Pier 60, where officials say it will continue to nourish north Clearwater Beach.

The project actually involves dredging two sections of channel. The so-called "cut" channel that hugs the eastern side of Clearwater Beach is used by boaters traveling from Clearwater Pass, around Clearwater Point to the Beach Marina.

The second channel takes boaters east from the pass out into the Intracoastal Waterway — a path that avoids the shoals of Clearwater Point but is longer and requires more gas.

Both of those sections will be dredged to a depth of 8 feet. Meanwhile, the channel west of the Clearwater Pass Bridge leading out into the Gulf of Mexico will be dredged until it's 10 feet deep.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local governments are responsible for the federal channel, but the city will pay the full cost. The corps told Clearwater that the dredging project would only find federal funding from congressional earmarks, now largely forbidden. The work is expected to cost about $750,000, but $1 million has been budgeted to cover cost overruns.

And what about that thousand-pound piece of equipment that came off the dredging vessel?

After it sank, it became a hazard to navigation, Morris said. A Beach Marina crew with a tugboat and a barge recovered it with the help of a local diver. They brought it to the Seminole Boat Ramp in Clearwater.

The corps already has a replacement part ready to go, but officials wanted the broken part back so they could see what failed.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to

Clearwater Pass dredging begins, is promptly delayed by equipment problems 08/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 4:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.