Dangerous shoals created by Hurricane Sandy and a series of winter storms threaten to disrupt ferry service between Hyannis and the Islands, as the summer travel season begins Memorial Day weekend.
The Steamship Authority awaits approval from its emergency request to dredge, after the storms pushed sand into the harbor and reduced the depth of the shipping lane. Two ferries recently hit bottom and damaged their hulls with no injury to passengers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just concluded the public comment process. If all approvals are met dredging could begin in approximately six to seven weeks. An estimated 90,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of clean sand will be removed by barge and deposited off-shore, away from shipping lanes.
Until that time, the SSA is carefully monitoring the tides to ensure adequate depth for the large vessels. Normal channel depth is 13 feet, however shoals have reduced that depth to 7 feet in some areas. With dredging not expected until the summer tourist season is well underway, passengers are advised to check the SSA website for the latest conditions, departures and arrivals.
In addition to tide-related delays, heavy cargo such as trucks and commercial vehicles, might be left at the dock for a later trip at higher tide, SSA officials say.