Source: Andrea Stetson, Special to News-Press.com
About this time most years, boaters begin their complaining about getting stuck in Wiggins Pass. As the winter tides move in boaters begin hitting bottom or are forced to wait for high tide to get in and out.
But not this year. Recent soundings of Wiggins Pass show the depth to be quite deep. The Estuary Conservation Association and Pelican Isle Yacht Club take routine soundings of Wiggins Pass to see how deep the water is. Depths in the channel are 6 to 7 feet. There's one spot just past the beaches where the water drops to 4.2 feet, but even that's nowhere close to the under three feet of water boaters are used to complaining about.
"It's pretty good," said Joe Moreland, a local boater and president of the Estuary Conservation Association (ECA). "The weather has been pretty favorable. There is even one place where the water has become a little deeper."
Moreland said there are a few rough spots between the two parks heading toward the stone marker.
"That area is still navigable," he said. "It's filling in, but it's not filling in rapidly."
Wiggins Pass last had a maintenance dredge last November. It has been routinely dredged every 18 to 24 months. The channel is dredged in a natural S-curve to depths of 8 to 13 feet. Collier County and the ECA are working on a new dredging plan that they hope will keep the channel deeper for a longer time.
That plan includes making the channel straighter and narrower and adding underwater biodegradable jetties to help hold the sand. The plan is now in the final stages of information and documentation gathering. The next step is to send the plan to the Department of Environmental Protection. Approval will then take about 12 to 18 months.
"We are very optimistic that the new strategy will be fully approved," Moreland said.
In the meantime boaters are enjoying an easy to navigate channel. Moreland has a 34-foot Sea Ray that needs 34 inches of water.
"In the past I've had serious problems there, but there is no problem right now," Moreland said.
Mark Licht needs 22 inches to get his boat through the water. He recently returned to Naples from up North and said the pass was perfect.
"When I came in it was 6 feet the whole way and it's really, really low tide right now," Licht said. "I come in and out of here all the time and it's perfect."