Keith Amirault, Commodore of Digby’s Royal Western Nova Scotia Yacht Club, applauds the Digby Port Harbour Association’s plans to dredge the harbour and says it’s much needed. He also says his marina needs the same.
Amirault says the club has been in talks with likeminded parties that dredging would be good news for the yacht club and would allow more boat launches and bring more business to the marina, which often has empty dock slips open for use.
“Right underneath the marina is in desperate need of dredging. We used to have eight to ten feet of water right at the head of the staircase, and right now it’s actually dry,” he says.
Amirault says the lack of water availability has had a drastic effect on boat tourism in the area, and that many tourists don’t sail here because water access is so limited, and waiting for 12 hours for the tide to come in is less than desirable.
“Many boats from Saint John have stopped coming, and others don’t stay the night anymore,” he says.
“We also used to get a flotilla from Maine every year, and they don’t come anymore because of the same reason.”
The proposed solution
The solution, according to Amirault, would be an “any tide boat launch,” meaning enough water would be in the basin even at low tide to allow boats to launch. This, of course, would require dredging.
Because of the drastic need for dredging, Amirault says many docks at the marina are currently unusable.
“Right now, if you have a boat, you have to put it in and leave it for 12 hours, when in reality you should be able to bring a boat in or put it out no matter if it’s low tide or high tide,” he says.
Amirault says this would increase the number of people and boats on the water, and is something the yacht club would really like to see. He said the club also wants to include additional areas in the Annapolis Basin, such as a boat dock in Bear River.
Duffer Wilson is the owner of Bear River Plastic Welding, a company that builds docks. As someone who’s sailed extensively, he agrees that additional water access is sorely needed.
“A lot of people don’t realize the hardship around getting a boat into the water,” he says.
“If a dinghy dock were added, a mooring field for more boats could be utilized, and access would be improved.”
Wilson says Bear River would be a great location for increased water access, and that the community would likely be supportive of such a venture.
Getting more people on the water
Amirault says he hopes this and other initiatives get up and running to increase the number of people who can get on the water.
The docks were installed early this year at Digby’s marina due to warm weather, availability of equipment and the steadfast help of volunteers. Most boats don’t dock until around the second week of May, according to Amirault, but some are beginning to trickle in.
The yacht club is also planning a fishing derby to happen at some point this summer, and hopes to get more people interested, and more boats on the water. Amirault says the marina is always open for people who want to bring boats in for the day or weekend, and supplies both regular gas and diesel.
“You don’t have to have a 30 or 40 foot boat to come and enjoy the basin. This is the idea of the boat launch and more access, and promoting a fishing derby. It’s ‘we’re here, and come use our facility,” he says.