The Haines Borough is negotiating with the town of Gustavus to buy a surplus float. It would be used temporarily for moorage at the small boat harbor. Eventually, the borough would utilize it as a breakwater in Letnikof Cove.
Harbormaster Shawn Bell says the float would provide expanded moorage capacity in the small boat harbor. The harbor is being deepened right now to allow for more floats. But those floats aren’t due to be installed until years down the line.
“It’s just something to fill in a portion of the basin so we can get moorage,” Bell said. “It’s just an empty space that we want to get whatever we can for the next few years until we get something permanent.”
The 200-by-18-foot steel float was damaged a few years ago in Gustavus during a storm. The pilings supporting it were destroyed and the float broke free. It’s gone unused since then.
It was evaluated by the Alaska Department of Transportation and PND Engineers, the firm working on the Haines harbor project.
Following those assessments, the Haines harbormaster, public facilities director and port and harbor advisory committee recommended the borough buy the float.
After new moorage floats are installed at the small boat harbor, Bell said the Gustavus float would help with wave protection at Letnikof Cove. He says even though it’s a retrofit, it’s better than nothing.
“We had PND do kind of a limited wave study just to get an idea of what it would do out there,” Bell said. “And they figured it would knock down about 53 percent of a wave coming through.”
It’s uncertain how much the float will cost. Its original worth six years ago was about $1 million. Manager Debra Schnabel said she thinks the borough can get it for less than $500,000. It could be paid for with harbor enterprise fund money or state grants for the harbor expansion.
Moving the float would cost an additional $140,000 or so, and repairing the damage is estimated to cost about $60,000.
The Haines Borough Assembly unanimously authorized staff to negotiate for the float. Those negotiations are ongoing.