If you dredge it, they can pass.
"Right now, it's about 6-foot (deep) in certain areas," Mayor Sam Seevers said. "Some of the boats are really nervous about their props."
During Tuesday night's City Council meeting, it was made well aware that the Destin Pass is in serious need of dredge work, as boats, both large and small, have voiced their concern about the shallowness of the pass and navigation channel.
As the captain of the Buccaneer Pirate Ship and the Southern Star, Cliff Atwell has the biggest boat in the harbor.
"It's not just the Buccaneer or the Southern Star," Atwell told The Log. "It's a lot of the other, smaller boats as well."
And while there is currently a dredge in Destin for the upcoming beach restoration project, it's not going to be of any service to the pass, which doesn't sit well with Atwell. He showed his frustration on The Log's Facebook page, writing "I guess the need on the beach trumped the boats’ needs; $7 million for the beaches, zero for the boats. Thanks a lot!"
Atwell says the pass isn't the only problem though. He said the mouth of the harbor, the navigation channel near the bridge and the jetties also needs to be cleared out.
"We've cancelled trips because we can't get out of there," Atwell said. "We've gotten stuck (by the bridge) and the Coast Guard had to come get us out."
Both Atwell and Seevers said the United States Army Corps of Engineers handles the regular "maintenance" of the navigation channel and pass, but funding has kept the dredge away from Destin. The pass was last dredged in 2010, according to city officials.
"They cut funding to only include major ports," Seevers told The Log.
The Corps does have an upcoming dredge project scheduled near the Coast Guard Station Destin, and Seevers said she is hopeful that the city and state leaders can work something out to where a "piggyback" operation could take place.
As for Atwell, he said that he has been calling the Corps on an almost daily basis and has little luck getting a response.
"It's the exact same answer every time, 'we don't have money,' " he said.
Atwell and Seevers are recruiting the help of Congressman Jeff Miller and Sen. Bill Nelson. Seevers has sent letters to both offices in hopes of finding a solution.
Much like previous dredge projects in the mouth of the harbor, this is not a permanent solution. The city is still searching for funds for a long-term stabilization plan that would include a combination of sheet pile walls and heavy stones.
With no immediate solution in sight, Seevers told The Log that something had to be done sooner rather than later so the city can maintain its most famous industry.
"It's vital to our economy," Seevers said. "If that pass closes, it will kill Destin."