05 September, 2015

8 Days a Week

Exactly 8 days ago, we started trying to save our beachfront.  We have made significant progress, but still have months of work ahead of us.  After working 8 Days a Week (click to listen), here is where we are:

After shoring up the sand around the end of the dock and in front of the buttonwood tree and the tropical almond tree, the stalwart crew started working on the breakwater.  They started under the dock and worked to the north for a few days.
Positioning the boat for offloading the sand bags about 20 feet from shore.
 The sea was not too rough the first day, but the water was high.
Elan, Richard (carrying bag), Mason (getting bag off boat), and Tiger (shifting bags in the boat) dove right into the work.
Our boat, Patience, has an electronic lift on the engine, so it was perfect to use in the shallow water.
This is load number 2.  To left of Richard and Elan is a bank of submerged bags.  See how the water glides over the bags.
The wind died down as the day progressed, and by load number 3 the water was noticeably lower.  The wind actually has more influence on water level than the moon does.  Together, the sun and moon account for only 18 inches of difference in water level on the tide charts.
Load number three.
One more load on the north side of the dock.
The last load of the day as seen from the dock.
 So this is how it works; the cement and sand and empty bags are at the end of the road at the north side of the mouth of the Monkey River.  Our place is a little more than a mile up the coast.  So the guys mix the sand and cement, keeping it dry, shovel it into the bags, and the tie the bags off.  Then the bags are loaded into Patience and boated over here where the bags are offloaded. One team stays at the road's end filling bags while the other team brings the bags here.  But the boat needed repairs on Thursday, so all 5 of the crew worked on filling bags all day.  That meant things moved very quickly on Friday and Saturday with bags at the ready.
Friday morning.  A turtle gap will go here.
 We have seen hawksbill turtles nesting on our beach, and green turtles are very common around here.  And even loggerhead turtles might be around, although we have never seen one here.  Anyway, we want this remain an attractive area to nest.  Dennis looked up the flipper width of the turtles so we could be sure to make the turtle gaps large enough.  We decided on 4-5 feet since flipper width is a little more than 3 feet.  We will also replenish the sand in the 3 spots we have seen them nest before and make a clear path for them to get to the nest sites.

After going about 40 feet to the north of the dock, the crew started extending the breakwater to the south.
The water on the south side is much shallower than on the north; progress is much faster.
At the end of Friday we had about 75 feet of breakwater.
View from the loft.  You can't see it because the tree on the left is in the way, but there is a nice turtle gap in the breakwater.
At the end of Saturday, after an 8-day week, the breakwater is about 90 feet long and has 2 turtle gaps incorporated into it.  We have not lost any more sand where the breakwater is and may have actually gained some back in front of the breakwater.  The breakwater seems to cut the big waves off at their knees so that only small wavelets make it to shore.  And when the waves slow down like that they drop whatever sand they are carrying.  Time will tell.
You can see the turtle gap behind the elbow in the tree branch.  This photo was taken from the front steps.
The water is starting to clear, and if the east wind holds off, there won't be much Sargassum coming in overnight.  But in recent weeks, the wind picks up a little in the afternoon and then starts blowing around 6:00 pm.  We have another 300+ feet of breakwater to build like this, which is Stage One.  Stages Two and Three involve putting posts in to mark the location of the breakwater for boaters (it is well out of the way of the channel, but sometimes people like to to put in at the shore.  The smaller canoes and dories can go through the turtle gaps.
Look at that nice clear water 60 feet offshore.  It will be a happy day when the water closer to shore is clear again.  This photo was taken from the little balcony in the loft.
There is more to life than building breakwaters.  One of our friends in Louisiana who own a lot a little more than half a mile up the beach from asked if I could see how their beachfront is holding up.  So Laquita - this shot is for you.  It looks very good.  Your lot is protected from the destructive east wind by Greater Monkey Cay.  There does seem to be one coconut palm that has toppled over.
What a difference 0.5 mile makes!  Relatively intact beach just north of us. There is that little palm in the center that seems to have tipped over into the water.
 Still lots of wildlife to photograph.
Colorful little crab hiding under an old palm stump.
 And the air is filled with butterflies.
The always photogenic Gulf Fritillary.


  1. Wilma,
    The repairs are coming along well.
    You either have generous neighbours though, or it's costing you a lot of unexpected outlay paying the labour force.
    I'm pretty sure most of us in the UK would love to have a repair job to do in such beautiful surroundings. To do that in the Thames Estuary here would require at the very least a wet suit to protect from the cold sea temperatures all day and we wouldn't have a hot, sandy beach to fall back on.

    1. We are paying these guys for their hard work and it is worth every penny! Plus I have been baking cakes and cheesy biscuits (scones) to keep them going. It is no hardship to get in the water, which is a very comfortable temperature right now. The finish work on the addition will need to be postponed a little bit while we recover financially. Such is life in paradise ...

  2. What a project! And what great rewards.

    1. I have been documenting the project and the results daily. It is making a difference much more rapidly than I had anticipated. We are quite pleased so far.

  3. Not good news Wilma, I hope you can fix this on a permanent basis.

    1. Hard to say if it will be permanent , but is it really looking good beyond expectations. I'll post more photos soon, but we can already see sand accumulating. The "cliff" is only 1.5 feet instead of 3 feet. I have to confess that we were pretty scared and worried for a few days. We aren't out of the woods yet, but I do believe that we are headed in the right direction.


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