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Port decides on a temporary home for marina breakwater

Tugs maneuver the 400-foot floating breakwater to its temporary home in Port Orchard last week, where the Boyer Logistics crew will make sure the structure is safe and watertight. - Ed Field photo
Tugs maneuver the 400-foot floating breakwater to its temporary home in Port Orchard last week, where the Boyer Logistics crew will make sure the structure is safe and watertight.
— image credit: Ed Field photo

The port’s commissioners have spoken — the breakwater goes to Langley.

But the Langley city council may have a few reservations.

On Wednesday, the Port of South Whidbey reviewed reports from engineering consultant Art Anderson.

“The deeper the engineers got into the site investigation, the better Langley looks as a temporary holding spot,” port manager Ed Field said. “At the same time, it seems Holmes Harbor might be more of a risk than they originally thought.”

Extensive wind data indicates there is no history of storms from the northeast, the only circumstance that could pose serious danger to the floating structure if it is docked next to the existing marina pilings.

Last week the 400-foot breakwater — purchased from Bremerton for a bargain-basement price of $350,000 — was disconnected and towed to Port Orchard for short-term storage by Boyer Logistics. The floats are 15 years old but in good condition.

A Boyer crew will do their own inspection for safety and watertightness after securing the dock for the next month or so. After that, they will tow it to Langley.

Originally, the port applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for permission to anchor the dock for one year in Holmes Harbor. Wind, wave and tidal data indicate that the breakwater may be at greater risk in Holmes Harbor than previously thought, however.

Towing direct to Langley will also save time and money.

The plan is to tie the breakwater to the existing boat dock palisade in Langley, then stabilize it with a resilient “camel” until it can be permanently installed. It would lie roughly parallel with the shore, northwest to southeast.

Port Commissioner Geoff Tapert noted that the camel concept would serve to distribute any forces over a wider area.

Commissioner Lynae Slinden said towing the dock direct to Langley from Port Orchard is the right thing to do.

“It seems, based on the data, that bringing the dock to Langley makes more sense than Holmes Harbor,” she said.

Field noted the engineers have said that any damage suffered while the dock is tied up will likely be more cosmetic than structural.

“Of course, if an 80 mph Nor’easter brews up, all bets are off,” he said.

Langley officials have asked the port for a presentation on its dock plan at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

“They have requested more information on what we’re proposing to do,” Field explained.

“I think they want right-of-approval,” Port Commissioner Rolf Seitle said. “Like it or not, the port is becoming increasingly involved in the harbor. The breakwater is key to marina expansion.”

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