The effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt on the Vineyard Haven harborfront, but marina owners say they are recovering on schedule for the influx of summer boats in coming months.
The October 2012 hurricane destroyed a portion of the town-owned Owen Park dock and severely damaged the dock of the private Vineyard Haven Marina, washing away its replica pilot house. The Black Dog Wharf saw little impact, wharf general manager Morgan Douglas said Thursday.
Total damage to public and private facilities was estimated at about $1 million following the storm.
The greatest blow to the town was dealt at the Tisbury Wharf pump-out facility and fuel docks, which were damaged to the point where they could not be used. The pump-out station, owned by R.M. Packer Inc., closes during the winter months and opens for Memorial Day weekend. This year, although harbor boat numbers were considerably down due to a cold, rainy holiday, the town was temporarily left without a place for managing boat discharge.
“It’s kind of fortunate that the weather was bad; we didn’t have the influx of people we usually have,” Tisbury harbor master Jay Wilbur said in an interview this week. “But that being said, we’re doing all right, we’re holding our own.”
Boats in Vineyard Haven discharge waste into one of two town-owned pump-out boats, each capable of handling hundreds of gallons of waste. Once the boats are filled they in turn transmit to the town sewer system via the Tisbury Wharf facility.
The town is dependent on the wharf, which is connected to town sewers and is the only land-based system the town has for disposing of boat discharge.
“We don’t have any town property that’s . . . adjacent to the sewer, so we have to use [Ralph Packer’s], and he’s been very generous in providing that,” Mr. Wilbur said. The Tisbury selectmen recently decided to require all town marina owners to provide a discharge facility for their patrons, but that does not go into effect until 2015.
Demand for pump-out services increased last summer after the passage of the Clean Vessel Act, which prohibits discharge of boat waste within three miles of shore. But the two town pump-out boats have always been kept busy, Mr. Wilbur said, part of a policy of making it easy for boat owners to comply with federal waste regulations.
Because of typical low usage over the winter, the pump-out boats are not at full capacity right now, Tisbury harbor master administrative assistant John Crocker said Thursday.
“We have a little bit of life left in us, and we’re hoping that our need and Ralph’s ability to get [the] gear together would meet roughly in the middle,” Mr. Crocker said.
Tisbury Wharf has also been the main fuel facility for boats, and until repairs are complete, small boats needing to fuel up in Vineyard Haven can go to Maciel Marine, while larger boats are left with the option of going to other harbors such as Falmouth. Mr. Packer said Thursday that the docks at the Tisbury Wharf had been partially repaired, and materials had been ordered to rebuild the facility. He estimated the work would be completed by June 15. “We’re replacing the new pipelines, the pump-out system and the water supply,” Mr. Packer said. The dock had to be taken apart to figure out total damage to the systems, which was unprecedented and “considerable,” he said.
But Mr. Packer was optimistic about the future of the facility, noting that the new fuel pipelines were more environmentally friendly. A system of secondary containment, where one pipe is within another, will better prevent against spillage.
Repair work began on the town-owned Owen Park dock in early May. The dock was ready for use over the holiday weekend although not completely fixed. The town will receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the cost of repairs, Mr. Wilbur said, but repairs had to begin before those monies arrive due to demand for dock usage. At their annual town meeting last month, Tisbury voters appropriated $100,000 to cover costs until FEMA funding arrives. The full sum will likely not be used, Mr. Wilbur said.
“We have high hopes, reason to be optimistic [about FEMA],” Mr. Wilbur said.
The most exposed dock in the harbor, that of the Vineyard Haven Marina, was almost entirely destroyed during Sandy. Marina general manager Liz Wild said the entire structure had to be rebuilt. Construction began in February and is nearly complete, she said.
“By the time the season actually starts, we should be ready,” Ms. Wild said.