Jersey Shore boaters asked to be careful of debris

May 17, 2013 4:10:28 PM PDT
Hurricane Sandy did more than just level houses and wreck boardwalks. The storm also changed the ocean floor, which means boaters have to learn how to navigate the new waters.

The wind and waves from the storm not only left debris in the water, but it changed the floor of the ocean and the bay. Shifting sand has altered navigation channels and because of that, boaters are asked to be extra careful this season.

Joey Cannon of Sheltered Cove Marina in Tuckerton has grown up boating on the waters in and around Little Egg Harbor.

He knows by heart the nuances of navigating the area but says after Sandy, he and every other boater out there should pay close attention while they are on the water, because shifting sands beneath the bay's surface could cause hazards.

"Due to the shoaling there is going to be a lot of spots probably going to be a little shallower than before so best to keep an eye on your depth finder and GPS," said Joey Cannon.

Cannon says using a boat's electronics will be more important than ever after Sandy because channels have shifted and water depths now vary wildly.

"3.8 feet, that's the bottom; that's sort of how it looks, so it's a little bumpy. If there was an obstruction there, we would see this go up a little bit, and you'd see a big lump in there," he said.

Removal companies have been working for months to pull all kinds of debris out of the water including cars, houses, docs and trees.

"There is debris in the water; there is all kinds of debris," said Captain Ron Kirby. "It is being cleaned up as we speak, but we just want to exercise due caution for people on the affected waterway."

Boaters who have already been out on the water say they are being cautious, but so far it has been clear sailing.

"I don't see a problem. I hear a lot of talk about debris in the water and stuff like that, and I haven't found it yet," said Pat Filardi.

"We are telling boaters to come on back, get your boats out in the water especially Barnegat Bay right now is fairly clear. We expect by June 1 to be very clear," said Bob Martin, New Jersey DEP Commissioner.

"Be careful, definitely don't be afraid," said Cannon. "Now more than ever, people need to get out there and do some boating. I think after what's happened, put your boat in the water and enjoy yourselves. Have a good time."

Boaters are encouraged to stay in deeper water and marked channels, and to report any debris to the DEP.