Mooring field could open at Manatee Pocket in Port Salerno by the end of 2022

PORT SALERNO — Plans to build a berth at Manatee Pocket, in an effort to reduce shipping hazards in the area, could come to fruition this summer.

The idea has been in the works for at least three years, and the county got $900,000 from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Inland Navigation District, according to county coastal engineer Kathy Fitzpatrick. Its cost could exceed $1.5 million.

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The aim is to start construction by the end of August, assuming there are no supply chain delays, and open to boaters by the end of the year. , she said. There are believed to be 42 anchorages — split into two groups of 32 and 10 — in the pocket, according to county records.

“Functionally, that’s where the boats are now,” Fitzpatrick said.

A screenshot from Manatee Pocket in Port Salerno shows proposed areas for a mooring field that could be open to boaters by the end of 2022.

The mooring lines would allow boats to anchor safely while withstanding stormy winds, Fitzpatrick said. So far, boats anchored in open water have collided with each other or crashed into Manatee Pocket docks during weather events.

“The bottom of Manatee Pocket is covered in several feet of mud, so when a boat gets in there and drags an anchor like they normally would anywhere, it doesn’t actually dig into the bottom and snag,” she said.

Bryan Wilson, paddles to his sailboat home for the night of Tuesday, May 17, 2022, on the Manatee Pocket in Port Salerno.  The Martin County Board of Commissioners has proposed a mooring field in this area of ​​the Manatee Pocket.  Mooring fields are permanent structures that allow boaters to secure their vessels.

The mooring field would include a shower and laundry facility, in addition to providing proper waste disposal, Fitzpatrick said.

A private operator with an existing facility on Manatee Pocket or who could build a facility by the end of the mooring field would provide the services through a public-private partnership, she said. County staff are in the middle of the selection process.

The project would benefit the area, according to the owner of Pirate’s Cove Resort & Marina, on the pocket’s waterfront.

The proposed mooring site site in Manatee Pocket on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 in Port Salerno.  Mooring fields are permanent structures that allow boaters to secure their vessels.

“With a mooring field, you’ll know who’s in the middle of the water,” Faith Moynihan said. “You won’t have boats that come out during a storm, and you won’t have abandoned boats.”

The field would be the second built by the county, following the Jensen Beach facility which opened in March 2021. This mooring field accommodates 56 vessels on the Indian River Lagoon off the Jensen Beach Causeway , at daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rates ranging from $27 to $3,000.

Since the county’s fiscal year began Oct. 1, the Jensen Beach estate has broken even, generating about $60,550 from 3,110 nights purchased, according to Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Abbate. .

“The mooring fields themselves are not-for-profit operations,” Fitzpatrick said. “We can charge rates that will allow us to fund the maintenance and management of the mooring field, but not something that would generate a profit for the county.”

Lina Ruiz is TCPalm’s watchdog reporter for Martin County. You can reach her at [email protected], on Twitter @Lina_Ruiz48 or at 321-501-3845

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