Safer sailing

Navigational aids installed to guide boaters

A public-private partnership has helped make navigation along Contraband Bayou safer for boaters.

More than 30 markers, or private aids to navigation, were installed in late November to alert boaters of cypress stumps or knees that may not be visible above water, but can still cause severe damage to boats or potentially injure boaters.

Ben Garber, with Lake Charles Sail and Power Squadron, said the bayou was once lined with cypress trees, but the dredging of the Calcasieu Ship Channel brought in saltwater, causing the trees to rot and die over time.

Because Contraband Bayou is not a commercially navigable waterway, the Coast Guard or Army Corps of Engineers will not install markers, Garber said. That forced them to take another route in getting the markers installed.

Garber said the effort took about a year of preparation, including depth surveys at low tides and installing plastic pipes to find hazardous areas that needed markers. They also had to get permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.

Once the permits were obtained, funding was secured through a joint services agreement that involved the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Division, city of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Police Jury, the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau, the power squadron and Blue Star Marine. He said the Calcasieu Police Jury provided signs for the markers, valued at about $8,000. The other three agencies contributed $7,500 each.

Garber said he and fellow squadron member Harvey Kuttner worked together on the effort. Darrell Walker of Blue Star Marine provided a crane and boat to help with installing the signs, he said.

The markers extend from the Port of Lake Charles docks, to the Olmstead Shipyard near the West Prien Lake Road overpass.””

Ben Garber of the Lake Charles Sail and Power Squardron said the Contraband Bayou was once lined with cypress tress but the dredging of the Calcasieu Ship Channel brought in saltwater, causing the trees to eventually rot and die. More than 30 markers now alert boaters where the stumps or knees are that may not be visible above water.

Special to the American Press

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