Shifting Sands Drop Bulldozer Into The Drink

By: Tim Wood

A bulldozer operator waits to be picked up after his machine ran into soft sand and slid down an embankment at the dredge de-watering pond being used in the Outermost Harbor dredging project. No one was hurt and the bulldozer was pulled out of the water, cleaned up and is back in operation. SPENCER KENNARD PHOTO

CHATHAM – Shifting sands make for unstable ground, as the operator of a bulldozer working on the Outermost Harbor dredging project found out Saturday.

The bulldozer was moving sand at a dewatering pond set up just outside and south of the harbor, the entrance to which is being dredged by Outermost Harbor Marine.

“The sand just gave way underneath the bulldozer,” said Harbormaster Stuart Smith, and the machine slid down into the water.

No one was hurt, according to Outermost Harbor Marine CEO Farrell Kahn. Smith added that there was no indication of any fuel being spilled.

“It's not big deal,” he said Monday. An excavator was brought in to remove the half-submerged bulldozer from the water and it was washed down.

“As far as we're concerned, it's still operable and still working,” he said.

Sand is being removed from the entrance channel to the marina and deposited on the sand spit to the south. A channel 80-foot-wide, five-foot-deep channel is being cleared; sand from the north has been filtering along the coast and clogging up the waterway. The relatively mild winter weather as well as growth of the southern tip of North Beach Island has helped slow the shoaling of the channel, said Smith.

“There are some signs of hope down there,” he said, but added that there is still “a lot of material” to move out of the channel.

Kahn said dredging progress has been “far better than we expected,” and the project, which was expected to take two months, may be completed by the end of the month.