The process involved with getting sand to the north end of Longboat Key is a seven-day-a-week, 12-hour-a-day job for a crew of six dredge workers who are spending their summer off the shore of Longboat Key.
Since May, Pompano Beach-based dredging company Cavache Inc. has placed 80,000 of the 100,000 cubic yards of sand promised for the severely eroded north end of the island.
The $850,000 West Coast Inland Navigation project cost taxpayers $350,000.
The Longboat Observer was invited on a tour of the dredge to review the cutter head dredge process.
Sand is now being placed near the Broadway beach access, which is the last area to receive sand.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said the contractor will not work during the busy Fourth of July weekend.
“It’s just too busy that weekend and now that the popular North Shore Road beach access has sand out there, they won’t compete with the beachgoers,” Florensa said.
The contractor, Florensa said, could be finished by the July 4 weekend, but it’s likely the project will finish up by mid-July.
Cutter head dredge process
The Cutter head dredge contains a suction-tube pipe with a cutting mechanism that acts as a vacuum under the water. The process involves first stirring up the sand and water before it’s sucked into the pipe.
The dredge itself is moved only by tugboats. Motors on the dredge are only used to activate a pulley system that allows the dredge to swing back and forth to suck up sand sediment. Motors and boosters are also used to keep the pressure steady to keep sand flowing through the pipe.
A secondary barge called a tail barge that is secured to the dredge has two swing anchors that allow the dredge to move back and forth as it makes sweeping passes in the bay to collect sand.
The dredge captain uses a GPS computer and sand depth equipment to show the depths of the sand. The captain monitors and receives data used to move the dredge and collect sand most efficiently.
The sand is sucked through a long pipe that floats on top of and just underneath Sarasota Bay, wrapping around Beer Can Island before the sand is brought to shore at the other end of the pipe.
BY THE NUMBERS
7 - The number of days per week a crew of six works to place sand on the beach.
12 - The average number of hours per day a crew of six works to place sand on the beach.
20 - The average percentage of sand in the water that is sucked through a pipe and pumped on the beach.
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