Letters to the Editor

Coupeville: Find solution for town launch

Recently a storm caused damage to the Coupeville boat launch floats and a piling that restrained the floats was broken off. These floats were found to have problems when they were first installed around 1987.

Shortly after installation, the float attachments were damaged by a storm and since they were still under warranty, the float supplier was asked to do the repair. He repaired the floats but said that future warranty would not be provided because the floats were not designed for use in open waters. They were for use inside a marina equipped with a breakwater.

Then-mayor Lew Naddy responded by removing the floats from the water during the winter storm season and replacing them in the spring. This procedure was followed until 1996 and no major damage incurred to the floats.

In 1996 it was decided to leave the floats in the water all year. This seemed to work well for a few years and then a big storm came which broke off two restraining pilings and extensively damaged the floats. The two wood pilings were replaced with steel pilings and replacement or repair of the four floats. It seems clear that the current float configuration cannot survive winter storms and must be removed during the storm season.

During early 1990 there was a decision by the town and the port commission to jointly develop a breakwater that would make boat launching safer and also protect the floats from big waves. Engineers recommended a rock-rubble breakwater that would extend out into the water parallel to the boat launch ramp. Progress seemed to be going well and about $50,000 had been spent when the Department of Ecology discovered that there was eel grass where the rocks were to be dumped. That ended the project because the cost of mitigating loss of eel grass was more than anyone could afford.

It is possible, that if someone could design a breakwater that would not damage the eel grass but could withstand the powerful wave action, that a year round float system might be feasible.

Will Jones


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