Boaters Express Concerns with Nauset Estuary

ORLEANS – Boaters, fishermen and others in the marine industry are worried about the economic impacts from shoaling.

The owners of Goose Hummock and Nauset Marine told Selectmen that boaters are leaving the town.

Goose Hummock rents 40 moorings from the town of Orleans on an annual basis. Owner Phil Howarth said things have changed drastically since he purchased the business six years ago.

“When I started at the shop we actually let 27 of them,” Howarth said. “I rented four this year. That’s the acute nature of my problem.”

Goose Hummock and Nauset Marine share in the care of about 100 moorings in the area.

“What I’m finding from our standpoint is a lot of our customers are coming to us to our counter and they say ‘what am I going to do down there?…I’m not going to put my boat in this year because I can’t get anywhere’,” said Ron Deschamps, the owner of Nauset Marine.

The town, working with the Woods Hole Group, is exploring a dredging project from the town landings in Nauset Estuary out towards the harbor entrance.

The project was originally brought to the town by fishermen and shellfishermen to make it easier, quicker and safer to navigating from the town landing.

“Since we started this work, as you know, there has been continued shoaling in that channel behind the barrier beach and there is still a very real need to get this project done,” said Leslie Fields, a consultant from the Woods Hole Group.

Fields said the purpose of a dredging project would be to improve navigation and public safety for boaters.

A feasibility study conducted identified a number of dredging methods for the area.

For the outer part of the channel, they would like to use the Barnstable County Dredge, a hydraulic dredge, with a direct pump to Nauset Beach or a temporary dewatering area on the barrier beach. That material would then be later transported to Nauset Beach.

Mechanical dredging would be used for the inner part of the channel. That material would be dewatered at Goose Hummock and then trucked to an upland site and used for beach nourishment for Orleans beaches in need.

Officials were originally looking at dredging a channel that is 100 feet wide and dredged to minus 5 feet at mean low water.

“With those dimensions and this layout the original calculations were that we needed to dredge about 80,600 cubic yards of material,” Fields said.

The project would require several permits and would most likely not begin for at least 3 years.

Selectmen Mark Mathison hopes the permitting process can be expedited because of the economic disaster that could be caused by the continued shoaling.

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