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PD Staff
03-22-2011, 09:46 PM
SANTA CRUZ -- The Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor was reopened for boat traffic at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Coast Guard and harbor officials announced.

The launch ramp is set to open again on Thursday.

Less than two weeks after strong tsunami surges struck the 800-plus slot harbor, causing more than $26 million in damages, officials determined the area is safe again for boat travel.

The reopening comes after a sonar survey of the harbor floor by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration conducted Monday and Tuesday.

"NOAA completed the survey and didn't see any obstructions, that's why we're able to lift the safety zone," Coast Guard spokeswoman Laura Williams said Tuesday afternoon.

The south harbor re-opened Monday to boats with less than 6 feet of draft, while more time was spent assessing the north harbor for pollution and other threats.

The north harbor suffered the brunt of the damaged caused from sea water surges that originated from an earthquake in Japan on March 11.

Minor restrictions are still in place around U Dock, the first dock on the north side of the Murray Street Bridge, which sustained some of the worst destruction in the harbor.

A few existing navigation hazards in the harbor are marked with buoys, Port Director Lisa Ekers said.

A total of nine boats sank during the tsunami and five were in the process of sinking before being pulled out, Ekers said.

Of those 14 boats, 10 were destroyed, she said.

Damage to private vessels has been estimated at $4 million.

Ekers is in Washington, D.C. to attend the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference.


http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_17675695

PD Staff
03-26-2011, 11:46 AM
SANTA CRUZ -- Two weeks after a tsunami hit the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, a boat docked to the heavily battered U Dock sunk Friday and another nearly went under a day after heavy rains enveloped the area.

Deputy Harbormaster Ernie Winsor said divers used air bags to lift the sunken boat.

"We think that with the surge, one of the exhaust vents may have been torn off and that caused it to take on water," he said.

Winsor said the partially submerged boat came from the neighboring V Dock, where crews had to pump water out to keep it afloat. It was not clear whether tsunami damage or the storm that began Thursday were to blame in either case.

But Tony Lewandowski, whose Carver 33 named "JustUs" fully sunk, said a lack of power on the damaged U dock prevented his bilge pumps from running. He had no boat insurance because he planned to sell the boat.

"I hope that federal aid comes in quick," he said.

But tsunami damage statewide has not risen to the threshold of $44 million that would allow Sacramento to apply for federal assistance. In the meantime, Port Director Lisa Ekers, who returned from Washington this week after a pre-planned trip to seek funding for the harbor, has planned a town hall meeting for Tuesday to discuss the harbor's recovery.

Ekers will host the public meeting "to talk to our customers, hear their suggestions" on rebuilding the 827-slip harbor and how to accommodate those who lost their boats. Nine boats were fully sunk by the tsunami, which was triggered by the massive earthquake in Japan on March 11, and five were nearly sunk.

"People have been incredibly patient and there are a lot of people asking questions about what the future is for access to their boats," Ekers said.

The harbor fully reopened to vessel traffic Wednesday and recovery work is ongoing, but Ekers said she wanted to work on restoring capacity before salmon season opens April 2.

"We want to hear from our slip renters on what their needs and ideas are," she said.

The meeting is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club, 244 Fourth Ave. For information, call the harbor office at 475-6161 or visit the harbor's website at www.santacruzharbor.org.

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_17705600?source=pkg