Nantucket re-floated and off for repair

VIRGINIA BEACH

The Spirit of Nantucket is in a Norfolk shipyard for repairs, and the obstacle it may have hit has been lifted from the Intracoastal Waterway.

A crane placed the debris – apparently a discarded bulkhead – onto a barge about 9:30 p.m., clearing the way for an inspection of the channel.

If no more obstructions are found overnight, the busy maritime corridor could be back in full operation this morning.

Divers attached additional slings, and by 9 p.m., it was dangling above the water.

They initially had trouble positioning it on the barge “because it’s so huge,” Baum said. But after repositioning the barge, the crane lowered it safely onto the deck. It will now be taken out of the area for disposal.

With the debris removed, a Corps survey team that had stood by at the scene all day began a check of the area using sonar to make certain there is no remaining hazard.

If none is found, Coast Guard restrictions can be lifted. Those rules have prevented any commercial craft and recreational vessels with a draft of more than 6 feet from traversing the area.

The object had reduced the draft – the clearance for a vessel – to 7½ feet. The allowed minimum is 12 feet.

“It appears to be a bulkhead” and almost certainly fell from a barge, Baum said. “We’re talking some trash that came from somewhere else, because there’s no bulkheads in that whole area.”

And he is certain that it fell there recently, probably in the last few days.

It’s so large, Baum said, another boat would have struck it if not the Nantucket.

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