Hurricane Sally didn't mess up work done by dredge in Destin

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer-led project to dredge out Destin's East Pass to make it safer for boaters to navigate, and at the same time use the sand to restore the beaches just east of the jetties, got it's first test last week when Hurricane Sally barreled through the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm.

And it appears the pass and beaches passed the test.

The majority of the sand from the East Pass dredging project was pumped onto the beach near the Jetty East Condominiums, pictured at left, on the western end of Holiday Isle. Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis said the beach renourishment done at Jetty East looks to be in good shape after Hurricane Sally.

"It seems to be just fine," said Capt. Allen Staples of the 52-foot charter boat 100 Proof.

Staples managed to make it out Friday after Hurricane Sally came through the area bringing in a big catch of amberjack, mingo and more.

Related:Is dredge making passage better?

Capt. Jim Green of the New Florida Girl's American Spirit, a 92-foot party boat, said the storm doesn't seem to have messed up the recent work completed by the dredge.

"I have been out twice since the storm and the pass is still good," Green said.

More:March 2020: East Pass dredging is a ‘win, win’

People enjoy a breezy day on the beach at Holiday Isle in Destin. Mayor Gary Jarvis, who surveyed the beach on Tuesday, said the area behind the Jetty East Condominiums where the bulk of the sand from the East Pass dredging project was placed looks good, while the eastern end of Destin's beaches did sustain some serious erosion.

"It is still 16-feet deep where the dredge dug it out. And the natural cut was at 10-feet on the southeast side of the ebb shoal. The channel markers are all over the place but the channel itself is in good shape," Green added.

The last time the pass was dredged was in 2014. In the last couple of years, the Corps of Engineers agreed to dredge the East Pass, but then reneged on its commitment, sending dredging contractors to other projects.

The renourishment of the beaches behind Jetty East Condominium appears to be in good shape after Hurricane Sally.

This year, the dredge arrived in Destin in late February to begin work, but the endeavor was interrupted in April due to equipment problems. The dredge arrived back in Destin in early May and wrapped up the $2 million project.

More:April 2020: Broken dredge halts East Pass project in Destin

Capt. Tony Davis of the charter boat Anastasia has been out a couple of times since the hurricane as well and said it's a little hard to tell.

"The water is so high it's hard to tell," Davis said.

However, he did agree with Green that the storm moved all the buoys marking the pass.

More:May 2020: Dredge is back in Destin and ready to finish what it started

For Capt. Joe Quaranto who ran a trip out of the pass on Friday he said, "the water was too dirty to tell for sure... but I think it's OK though."

Capt. Cliff Cox of the Sweet Jody said he's only ran one trip since the hurricane and that was Saturday.

"The water was too muddy to see. It would not surprise me if it didn't fill it in some," Cox said.

But filling back in a bit, is just natural.

"I have not been out," said Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em.

Nevertheless he said, "I doubt it has changed much. But in actuality, the pass is always changing and morphing and slowly filling back in."

But for now, navigation in and out of the pass is passable.

As for the beach restoration, the majority of the sand pulled out of the pass was pumped up on the beach near Jetty East Condominiums, just east of the jetties..

Back in May, Darell Fink, general manager at Jetty East told The Log, “We had virtually no beach before ... now we have the biggest beach we've had in years. It's certainly a huge improvement."

According to Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis, the beach renourishment at Jetty East looked to be in good shape after Hurricane Sally.

The beaches behind Jetty East Condominium's, which were part of the recent beach renourishment project with the dredging of East Pass, were in good shape after Hurricane Sally.

"The beach restoration from the past dredging worked really well," Jarvis said after looking at the beach Tuesday morning. "We do have some serious erosion further to the east where there was no renourishment and there's some places in jeopardy that are going to have to be addressed at some point." 

The cost of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-led project was to be paid for with $1.5 million in federal money and at least $500,000 in county bed-tax revenue.