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Santa Barbara Harbor closes entrance while dredge vessel digs to create safe opening

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara harbor has closed to allow the just-arrived dredge to dig in on a project where sand has blocked most boats from going in and out.

The sand bar developed in the recent series of storms.

Harbor Patrol Lt. Nathan Alldredge was at the controls of a patrol boat looking over the area and said, "we had several years of sand deposited in two days. It is really incredible how much sand moved down."

There is even a wave break at times there when it normally does not have one.

"You can see that channel line where  the sand is deposited from  the breakwater.  We had the negative tide two feet, Friday and Saturday it would have been really really tricky to get out and it puts us in a tough position as well," said Alldredge.

He said the patrol officers have a tough time to answer some calls in this situation. "If it is a life and death emergency we will do our best to respond."

It was a direct hit on the harbor entrance and reduced the opening for boats, even at high tide, to a very shallow route.

Most stayed in the harbor.

Some were escorted in and out by the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol.

It took timing, funding and emergency action to get a dredge here to work on the problem. "If you think about being out the water two weeks ago,  it was a whole different scene,  it would have been really really dangerous to mobilize their equipment and an issue of a  pipe breaking," said Alldredge.

He is concerned about a vessel hitting a power line or dredge equipment.

Just getting in before the closure, fisherman Chad McClintock unloaded black cod for a shipment to Los Angeles. "I have a boat load of fish and I had to get in. So I was running fast and  I barely made it but I made it. "  He says he is in for the rest of the week and will likely go out next week.

For other boaters, "we are advising everyone this last week too for non emergency basis don't go out wait until the operation is finished."

It has been impactful on the fishing industry, recreational boaters and commercial operations such as touring boats and vessels specializing in whale watching or dive trips.

They all anxiously await the reopening.

"Weather allowing  hopefully by Saturday  we will be open for business again," said Alldredge.

Boat operators have been given advance notice of the closure via email and on their marine radio.

They will learn of the opening the same way.


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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.

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