“All Aboard Florida” Potentially Threatens the Marine Industry

“All Aboard Florida” Potentially Threatens the Marine Industry

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The Florida East Coast Railway bridge over the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Photo: John Lambert

Increased future rail traffic is certain to impact Fort Lauderdale’s marine industry. A high-speed passenger train between Miami and Orlando under the project name “All Aboard Florida,” and projects in Port Everglades and the Port of Miami require building several new bridges over 30 or more waterways. The New River railroad bridge in central downtown Fort Lauderdale is a main concern and when closed offers a slim four-foot clearance. Since many of the area’s refit and repair yards are up the New River, the slow-paced bridge would be closed more often. A 2009 study showed the bridge closing for 20 minutes, 11 times a day. Fear is that with added hindrance to marine traffic, repairs and jobs in the area’s marine industry will go elsewhere. Concerned citizens and boat owners are encouraged to contact Governor Rick Scott, state legislators, and Florida congressional delegation. allaboardflorida.com

Shipwrecks rich with history
A mysterious shipwreck near St. Augustine, Florida, was identified as the Bermuda schooner The Deliverance, wrecked in a brutal 1947 storm. The vessel was named after the original Bermudian Deliverance that helped settlers in Jamestown in 1608. The shipwreck of the SS Central America in 1857 led to the first worldwide financial crisis and is now being raised off the coast of North Carolina. Within its hold is 21 tons of gold worth $100 million. Its recovery by Tommy Thompson in 1988 led to litigation against him and his eventual fugitive status in 2012. And finally, budding maritime archaeologists are measuring and mapping century-old Carolina duck hunting skiffs to create models using 3-D printers at East Carolina University’s Maritime Studies Program. By doing so, students learn how a boat is put together—a prerequisite to examining shipwrecks.ecu.edu/cs-cas/maritime

Free dockage in North Carolina
Mariners Wharf’s free docks in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, are even more inviting to visiting cruisers this season with new restrooms and showers. Elizabeth City is on the ICW halfway between Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks. Restrooms are free and showers are $5, payable at Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau or the Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. offices. Both offices are closed on weekends. discoverelizabethcity.com

Another friend to ICW transients is the North Carolina Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina, known for its artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge. The expansion on Gallants Channel just north of downtown brings deep-water fixed 1,500-foot wharfs, 10-slip floating docks, and a 110-foot face dock. Short-term dockage is just $1 per-foot per-night or $10 per foot per month. Water and power are available, but there are no shore-side facilities as of yet.

Biscayne Bay navigation notes
Severe shoaling continues to be a problem along the ICW near Bakers Haulover Inlet near Biscayne Bay Buoy 7B south to DBN 11 and from Biscayne Bay 6A to Biscayne Bay DBN8. Channel depth and width vary, and at any tide boats may be pushed east or west out of the channel. Cruisers should contact dredge Jenni Lea II on VHF channel 13, 16 or 78, or local tow boat operators for information on a good deep water passage around the shoal.

By Nancy E. Spraker, Southern Boating July 2014