Marina hit by an ill wind

"Second major storm hits Oak Harbor in less than a year, damaging its breakwater again. At the same time, rotting supports force a rebuild for D-dock's roof."

  • Friday, December 3, 1999 5:00pm
  • News

“A combination of high westerly winds and a high tide sent car-high rollers smashing into the breakwater dock at Oak Harbor Marina Thursday, splintering or knocking down wooden wall sections in four locations.Damage from Thursday’s wind storm will probably exceed the damage from the last major storm that hit the marina, which occurred 10 months ago to the day, Harbormaster Dave Williams said. Back on Feb. 2, west winds clocked at 73 mph clobbered the marina, causing more than $63,000 in damage.Thursday’s winds gusted to 65 mph.“We had sustained winds, 45 to 55 mph all day long, and we still had 30 mph winds out of the west when I left at 10 p.m.,” Williams said Friday. “Combined with a high tide at 1 p.m., and the rollers were just pounding in there.“Weather has really tested the marina,” Williams said . “We would like to think this isn’t going to be a yearly occurrence.”It’s not like the Marina really needs another test right now. Or any additional weather-related damage.After weeks of inspecting rot-damaged beams supporting the roof structure over D dock, the Marina staff and a structural engineer recently concluded that major repairs are needed. The repairs could cost as much as $100,000, Williams said, and a fairly common winter occurrence could make things worse.“Snow would be the worst-case scenario right now,” Williams said.The repairs will reduce the number of covered slips at D Dock from 76 to about 50, Williams said. The rest will be converted to open moorage.Workers have already removed some of the 32-foot-long by 32-inch-wide roof panels over D dock. The rest of the repairs, slated to be finished by March 2000, will be completed piecemeal, Williams said, so as not to disrupt too many marina tenants at once.Repairs to D Dock, which was completed in 1974, were not totally unexpected, according to Williams.“The normally accepted standard life expectancy … for anything that sits in the water is about 30 years,” he said. But the extent of the wood damage — caused by condensation, roof leakage and normal aging — was.“It is a surprise,” he said. “We knew we had some beams that had to be replaced, but the more we looked, the more we found.”And weather, Williams said, was definitely a contributing factor.“The first winter the marina was here, a storm blew the roofs off D and E Docks so they’ve had a hard life to begin with,” Williams said. “They are more exposed to the elements out there and have taken the brunt of a lot of wind and snow storms.”Along with the breakwater.With the completion of the first section of the breakwater dock in 1987, the Marina was able to mitigate some of the most damaging effects of wind and waves.Forming the extreme western boundary of the marina, the newly extended concrete and wood breakwater is lined with guest slips on the east, or marina side, and wooden and concrete patios on the west fronting open water.The breakwater was constructed in two phases, beginning in 1987.Before the the last phase was completed early this year, E and D docks were regularly pounded by winter winds and waves. Barges were anchored between the marina and the open stretch of Oak Harbor to block the effects of wind-driven swells.The last two barges were removed last winter, when the breakwater extension was completedSince then, the breakwater has taken a pounding, but for the most part, Williams said, it’s been successful in protecting the marina. “It (breakwater) did what it was supposed to do,’’ Williams said, “but the breakwater wall sustained a fair amount of damage.”Williams, who has been the harbormaster for eight years, thinks that ultimately the construction of the breakwater is rugged enough to withstand the forces of wind and tide.But he also thinks the weather has gotten a little nastier in the last few years.“It seems that it has been worse in the last three or four years, then it was in my first few years,” he said. Oak Harbor can be deceptive because it can be so benign and beautiful but when these storms hit, it can turn into a nightmare really fast.””

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