Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obstacle in Hernando Beach access channel is solved

Frank Santo, 59, left, with Steve Barton, 65, points on a map to a spot where high rocks impede boats from accessing the main Hernando Beach channel. Santo and Barton ventured into the water on their own to find a way around the area.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Frank Santo, 59, left, with Steve Barton, 65, points on a map to a spot where high rocks impede boats from accessing the main Hernando Beach channel. Santo and Barton ventured into the water on their own to find a way around the area.

HERNANDO BEACH — For months, beach residents Frank Santo and Steve Barton had been doing their research, talking to experts and trying to persuade the county to help.

Their problem was that a high spot blocked the access channel that hugs the Hernando Beach shoreline south of the main channel. Even with the dredge of this main channel finished, the spot blocked access at low tide to anyone with a large boat in most of Hernando Beach, and dredging a clear path could have cost more than $100,000.

It turns out that there is a simple solution that wasn't obvious when the men started on their mission.

Even as the county's main channel dredging operation was winding down, they tried to persuade the county to also dredge the access channel before all the equipment was gone.

The county said no, but that didn't stop Santo and Barton from pushing for the community to get the job done despite the cost.

They talked to the Hernando County Port Authority, the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They talked fund-raising and prepared to bring in a dredging firm to do the job.

But before they did that, Santo and Barton wanted to know the exact lay of the land underneath the channel.

They donned wet suits and went into the water, spending hours marking depths. And what they found changed everything.

As it turns out, there is a deep spot in the access channel, but it hugs the shore side. About 30 feet across at its narrowest point, it is just under 5 feet deep at low water. The channel was confirmed days later by a member of the county waterways department using an accurate depth-finder.

Sticking to the middle of the channel, as mariners traditionally do, could land some boaters in an area just 31/2 feet deep.

Finding the deep spot and now finding a way to mark it so that boaters can traverse it will mean opening the access channel to nearly all the boaters who would want to get to the main channel and out into the gulf, Santo said.

All it took was getting a little bit wet.

"We wanted to make sure that we knew exactly what we were going to tell the dredge guys when they came,'' he said. "This is low-tech, but it works.''

The deep spot means large boats, which could only get through the passage at high tide, now have a much longer window of opportunity to exit the channel and come back in, Santo said. That can be the difference between an hours-long fishing trip on the gulf or a forced overnight stay on the water waiting for the next high tide.

"It's a huge, huge difference in my ability to use my boat,'' Santo said.

Barton said he has been around Hernando Beach for many years and had always been told to steer clear of the shoreline in the high spot, so he was surprised at the location of the deep area. He said it was a pleasant surprise because the alternative "would have been a two-year project and it would have cost a lot of money.''

Santo said the area and another spot with troublesome ridges to the south in the access channel should probably still be dug out. But that can always happen if the community decides long term to go through with a special benefits unit through the county. In that program, the county would assess a fee to each property owner which would be used to maintain and dredge out obstructions in area canals.

The Port Authority was expected to discuss how to mark the deep section of the channel at Wednesday evening's meeting, said Barton, who is a member of the authority.

"I'm very happy with the outcome,'' Santo said. "I think we hit a home run.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Obstacle in Hernando Beach access channel is solved 05/02/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    Minnesota Twins pitcher Adalberto Mejia, right, makes the tag at the plate on Tampa Bay Rays' Steven Souza Jr. who attempted to score on a runner's fielders' choice in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone) MNJM103
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69

    Music & Concerts

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  4. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85

    Ml

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  5. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement

    Environment

    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)