Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Killer Rip-Rap

Rip-rap (aka riprap) is used for erosion control, not boat landings. It is a layer of jagged rubble that absorbs and deflects the waves that would otherwise wear down the shoreline.

It is not used for boat landings. Any boater will tell you that you land on rip-rap at your own risk. Rip-rap can even sink barges, as happened in a recent incident at Tom Lee Park (below).

Memphis Flyer, August 13:
"Access for whom?" is a question that likely came up at the public meeting. Recreational boaters would like to land their canoes and kayaks at the cobblestones, but fear they will be excluded from them and Beale Street Landing. Expect to hear a lot about riprap in the coming days.

One recent boating event did not go well. The powerboat regatta hosted by the RDC July 31st through August 2nd was plagued by bad weather and spotty marketing. There was also the matter of a barge, owned by the Memphis Yacht Club and used for parties and Memphis in May activities. A spokesman for the club says the RDC borrowed a blacktop barge, approximately 30 feet by 12 feet, for the powerboat people to use as a platform to take pictures and movies. It was moved to the south tip of Mud Island, a muddy sandbar suitable for landing a barge. But for some reason, possibly to get a better vantage point, the barge was moved by a police boat to the other side of the harbor, along the riprap and cobblestones.

There it sat, until wave action pushed it over some sharp rocks. The barge sprang a leak and sank. No one was aboard. As of Monday afternoon, it was still at the bottom of the harbor. The yacht club is trying to work out responsibility for salvaging it with the RDC, the powerboat people, and the police department.

"There are so many hands in this darn thing that it's hard to figure out responsibility," said the yacht club spokesman. "All we know is that it wasn't us. We know how not to sink our barge. We're probably talking $5,000 to float and fix the thing."

What rip-rap looks like. Not healthy for boats.


Anonymous said...

That photo of the rip rap is not the same type of rip rap that is proposed. The proposed rip rap is 3-4" in diameter...very different from the photo or the rip rap at Tom Lee Park

Mike said...

That photo is of the type originally proposed 18 months ago, and the type that probably sank the barge. See this picture from the original plan. As most any boater would tell you, this is not how to build or repair a boat landing. So obviously, the RDC's objective was not to build or repair a boat landing. Their objective was to do something cheap and easy.

Now they have begun talking about adding a thin layer of smaller, rounder stone on top of the rip-rap. That is certainly a cheap and easy response to the objections of boaters. But it still isn't the way to repair/restore a public boat landing.