Joe's Bayou Boat Launch is open for business, with construction in progress

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With some in wet suits and others in shorts and rubber boots, city workers were hard at it last week trying to get Joe’s Bayou Boat Launch back in shipshape. 

The boat launch, located off Beach Drive on Joe’s Bayou in Destin, has five boat launch ramps, a parking area for vehicles and boat trailers as well as restrooms. 

When Hurricane Sally hit last September in the neighboring Pensacola area, it did a number on some of the docks at the boat launch in Destin. 

“The city worked with (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and we followed all our internal processes to seek bids for repair,” said Catherine Card, public information manager for the city of Destin.  

Destin city employees Jack Kiehn, left, and Stan Bazylak maneuver a new piling into place while making repairs Thursday to one of the boat ramp docks at the Joe's Bayou Recreation Area. Destin is repairing damage sustained to the facility when Hurricane Sally hit the area last year.

The city council recently decided that the bids were “extremely high” and made the decision to have the repair work completed internally by the city’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation staff.

More:After COVID-19 last season and missed trips, Destin fishing fleet off to a good spring

More:Destin High School hopes to offer a fishing class as part of its curriculum

“All docks are currently open with the exception of one and repairs to that dock are underway,” Card said. 

Thursday morning a couple of big pontoons launched, while staff was hauling pilings and lumber and working on the damaged dock, known as Ramp 4 at the launch. Ramp 4 is the third dock to the right of the facility building. 

The city hopes to have the project completed in two weeks, Card said, noting some of that depends on weather conditions and supplies. 

“The project is a top priority and Joe’s Bayou will be open for the season with adjustments to ensure our staff can continue to complete the work safely while allowing the public use of the facility,” she said. 

There is a daily launch fee of $20. However, residents who live in the incorporated area of Destin can obtain a free pass at city hall or the Destin Community Center by showing proof of residency with a picture ID and a boat and trailer registration.

A pontoon boat is launched at Joe's Bayou Recreation Area Thursday, where city employees are making repairs to one of the docks damaged when Hurricane Sally hit the area last year.