This will put a Smile on every Boater’s Face in Englewood
Dredging Stump Pass
The channel between the southern tip of Manasota Key and Don Pedro Island, called Stump Pass, is the only connection between the Lemon Bay (Intracoastal Waterway) and the Gulf of Mexico in the Englewood area. Therefore, this is also the only thoroughfare which boaters can use if they want to go out on the open water of the Gulf. The next two passages are the Venice Jetty, about 16 miles further north, or Gasparilla Pass, which is 7 miles further south.
So, if you don’t have one of those super-fast cigarette boats and if you do not care about the 25 miles limit and about the “no wake zones,” you don’t have to worry about that. But be careful. The guys in blue like to hide behind the mangroves, and they have pretty fast machines, too.
If you don’t like tickets, the trip will take up to 45 minutes before you see open water. Besides that, certain sections of the Intracoastal Waterway are plain boring. Especially the stretch around South Venice was never our favorite.
Stump Pass has never provided an easy Passage
Stump Pass is highly used by commercial and recreational boats. Yet, due to the special environment surrounding of the inlet, the pass always needs to be approached with caution, and boats with a little more draft might get stuck. The reason is that Stump Pass is one of the most dynamic inlets in the Southwest Florida region. After a strong wind, there may be shoals where the water was perfectly navigable before. During storm events of high wave energy, the channel may also be subject to larger shifts in orientation. These dynamic changes could mean that the best water for navigation is entirely different after a storm.
Yes, it is shallow at low Tide
Unfortunately, there is not too much leeway when going through Stump Pass because the water is already pretty shallow at low tide anyway. A two foot build- up of sand in the wrong spot can make a real difference – the difference between a prop and a bent prop. How nice is that?
But not only the channel is changing. The whole beach along the key is eroding heavily. Some of the houses are now only a few feet away from the flood line, and some homeowners are building already sea walls to fix a future problem.
The Goal is to Change that
To protect the beach on Manasota Key and to make the Pass safe again for boats, the new project, which is in the works right now, includes dredging the channel and constructing a groin structure north of the Pass. The intention of the structure is to stop the beach erosion and slow down the silt up of the channel.
Beach and Inlet Management Plan
The nearly $5 million Stump Pass 10-year “Beach and Inlet Management Plan” will reestablish the 1980 channel alignment. At that time the canal used to be at least 150 ft wide and on average nine ft deep.
The new goal is to make the channel even 300 ft wide and 11 ft deep, which will allow a lot bigger boats to go through that waterway. At this point, they are pumping millions of cubic foot of sand out of the channel, and millions of Dollars into the project.
Probably every three years the channel needs to be dredged again to maintain the depth and to keep the boaters happy. Will it stop the beach erosion? We will find out pretty soon. When fighting Mother Nature, you are not always winning. Stay tuned.