By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Harbor dredging is pumping optimism, and some money, back into Crescent Citys harbor.

The dredging, which experienced several delays while permits were being sought, is now under way and will allow larger vessels to once again enter the harbor.

Its been going fine, said Harbormaster Rich Taylor. Weve been using some new plastic pipe and its been going better than we thought it would. We used to have leaks with our old metal pipes, but so far no leaks, which makes for a much more efficient operation.

The smooth operation is not lost on Dale Long, owner of Fashion Blacksmith, a company that makes modifications to boats for customers up and down the Pacific Coast. He said the lack of dredging had been a sore spot with him for nearly six years.

We lost two significant jobs within the last 60 days because there was not enough drag (depth), Long said. These were big boats and would have been significant monies.

Business is returning now, as the 90-foot Coral Sea, a marine research vessel from Humboldt State University, has been lifted from the water and modifications are being made.

Theres been other boats a lot bigger than this one, Long said. This one has had significant lengthening, and thats why it doesnt draw as much water.

The captain of the Coral Sea said navigating Crescent Citys harbor was much easier this year than in the past.

Its better now than it was a couple years ago, said Captain Kees Ploeg. The last time we drew some mud when we came in, and we got caught on the inner basin.

The dredging has completed its first phase by clearing of the north end of Fashion Blacksmith. Currently, the south side is being dredged, with the cove near Whaler Island to follow.

Those are the three areas we have specifically identified as the most necessary, said Taylor. From there, we can go where needed, while keeping within our permitting.

Long said he is now pleased with the progress and hopes to see business pick up again.

Rich (Taylor) has been doing everything he can to get things going now, and thats a big help, Long said.

As for the Coral Sea, it will be retrofitted during the next six weeks at least.

Being a government vessel, we had to go through a bidding process and this was the best deal here, Ploeg said. The bids we got in San Francisco were nearly double what we got from Dale. Hes been very fair to us in the past and has helped us tremendously.

The state will pick up the $50,000 bill for the work done on the boat.