Part of phase one of the outer marina development was the dredging of the flushing channel at the western end of marina. The only feasible way to do it and preserve the channel and the mangroves was to use divers and pumps. Commercial Dive Services was tasked with the 12-day project and a diesel-powered hydraulic dredge pump with 350 feet of discharge line were brought to bear.
Starting at the mouth of the channel and working their way in, between three and five divers a day man-handled this brain-rattlingly noisy 4000-pound commercial vacuum cleaner along the channel. Rugby-scrum style, the divers pushed this ravenous monster inch-by-inch along the bed sucking 40-60 cubic yards of slurry per hour – a 50/50 mix of water combined with clay, mud and general run-off. Three airbags were used to prevent the pump from burrowing up to 30 feet down if left to its own devices.
The 486-foot channel, after successive hurricanes and general build-up, was 3-4 feet deep. After dredging, the channel will be 9 feet deep at low tide and 12 feet deep at high tide. Chris Juredin, owner of Commercial Dive Services, estimates that anywhere between 2,800 and 3,000 cubic yards of slurry was removed and pumped into the area currently being reclaimed to create the larger boatyard.
In addition to natural material, the divers had to remove a lot of other debris including nets, rebar and hundreds of bottles that were hand-fed into the pump and finely macerated; watch the video and see if you would like to put your hand near the business end of this machine!