Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 4:01 pm | Fair 57º


Local News

Equipment Breakdown Delays Dredging of Santa Barbara Harbor

Boaters are cautioned to leave only if they have to, while holdup has affected whale-watching and other cruise businesses

Traffic in and out of the Santa Barbara Harbor will remain minimal this week following a delay in dredging because of broken equipment.

Dredging of the sand-packed harbor began late Saturday, and the city’s equipment ran for about four hours before an electrical breakdown, according to harbor operations assistant Doug McConnaughay.

New parts were en route Monday, but dredging won’t begin again until Thursday at the earliest, which means most boats shouldn’t venture outside the smaller-than-normal channel unless they need to, McConnaughay said.

He emphasized that the city would not close the harbor entrance and merely encouraged as few passages as possible until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could resume dredging.

Harbor Patrol crews have been busy around the clock since the winter storm more than a week ago, helping guide boats of all sizes, especially those that bump the bottom, McConnaughay said.

“We’re definitely cautioning boats to not go out,” he said. “We’re really encouraging boaters to contact Harbor Patrol, and we’re helping them in every way that we can. We’ve done a lot of escorts, a lot of guiding. We realize that people have reasons to go in and out.”

The holdup has affected whale-watching and other cruise businesses.

The Condor Express hasn’t gone out since Feb. 27, and it hopes to resume trips Saturday, depending on dredging.

The Double Dolphin, which ran aground and was freed from the harbor entrance during a cruise last Friday, has its next trip tentatively scheduled for Friday.

The delay also has forced the city’s Waterfront Department to cancel the cruise ship visit that was set for Wednesday. The Sapphire Princess would’ve brought most of its 3,700 passengers ashore to dine and shop locally.

“I have serious concerns for the safety of the ship’s passengers and transporting tenders,” Waterfront Director Scott Riedman said in a statement.

Riedman cited shoaling and low tide as the main cause for caution because Seal Landing is the only place where the 149-passenger tenders, which come every seven to 10 minutes from the cruise ship, can disembark.

He expected dredging wouldn’t interfere with the next cruise ship, slated to dock March 20.

McConnaughay said boaters should expect a more restricted harbor area once dredging begins, since the equipment will span across and block the channel.

He hoped for passage as usual by Sunday.

“The more time that boats are going in and out, that’s the longer that it takes for the dredge to complete,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >