SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After a frustrating couple of weeks, boat owners in the Santa Barbara harbor were in a better mood today after seeing the dredge begin to cut through a wall of sand at the entrance.
The sand clogged the area between the docks and Stearns Wharf during the violent storm March 1.
Larger boats have been grounded at their slips. Smaller boats have been able to come and go at high tide.
Some of the depths have been very risky, as shallow as two feet.
The problem has not only hurt the commercial fishing business, but it has upset recreational boaters. The first "Wet Wednesday" of the year, this week was cancelled.
A cruise ship visit was also called off. The sand bar made it impossible to move passengers back and forth to the ship. Another cruise ship is scheduled for this Thursday, and the entrance should be open by then.
The dredge operation sucks up sand and water from the harbor entrance, then it flows down a pipe to the beach east of Stearns Wharf. From there it is shot out of a pipe and back into the water where it will refill beaches down the coast that were wiped out in the storm.
The Army Corps of Engineers oversees the operation.