Remarkably, Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor remains open for transit

Santa Cruz Harbor - Santa Cruz, CA (Santa Cruz County)

Remarkably, Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor remains open for transit
Santa Cruz Harbormaster Blake Anderson surveys current shoaling along the West jetty on Wednesday. Behind Anderson is the harbor dredge Twin Lakes, and breaking waves on the west edge of the Harbor entrance.

by Allen Bushnell

Despite the successive pressure of multiple big wave events along the Northern California Coast, the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor remains open for transit at this time. It is rather remarkable, especially considering the amount of shoaling we faced last year. The Harbor was impassable for a short period of time during last winters storm train. Right now, we have a solid 10-foot channel for transit, on the East side of the harbor mouth. The swells we’ve seen so far this year have been huge, some topping twenty feet, but the swell direction and preventative efforts from the Harbor dredge crew leaves us in much better shape this year so far.

Harbormaster Blake Anderson reminds us that shoaling in the Harbor occurs not only from littoral drift (sideways beach currents), but also a good amount of sand actually sifts or sieves its way through the jetty rocks and jacks on the west side, from Seabright Beach. This is why we see big sinkholes along the jetty on the west side. Anderson is very pleased with the maintenance and condition of the harbor entrance, considering the severity of wind, waves and tides we’ve experienced recently.

Commercial crabbers are back on the water dropping pots for Dungeness, and reports are the take has been very good. Local areas are producing heavy pots of big, firm crab for the commercial guys and sport guys alike.  Recreational crabbers are allowed to use full-sized pots now too, which makes the crabbing effort a little bit easier and a lot more productive. Everyone has their favorite spots to drop pots, but historically the crab tend to migrate towards the big submarine canyon edges as the season progresses.

Commercial fisherman Khevin Mellegers operates one of the crab boats from Santa Cruz Harbor. He reports the harbor entrance is sufficiently deep right now, but the channel is very narrow. Enter and exit on the far east corner for maximum safety. Mellegers is stoked to be fishing again after a State government delay of crab season this year. Also, this year commercial crabbers are restricted to half the gear they commonly run. “”So imagine it,” said Mellegers. “You have to work twice as hard or twice as long to match previous years’ earnings.” Statewide, a good number of commercial boats have given up on the crab game. Transferable permits have dropped in value by about 60%, according to Mellegers.

If you can’t go out and catch yourself some tasty Dungeness on your own this week, there will be a “pop-up” fresh fish sale in Felton this Saturday January 25. Hosted by Fish Sustainable, the sale usually is located next to the Felton Rite-Aid store. Mellegers will be there with others stocked with hundreds of live Dungeness crab for sale.

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