Can New-Design Breakwaters Save Seabreeze Apartments?
BY KAREN JOLLY DAVIS
Cape Charles Wave
August 28, 2012
Massive concrete pyramids line the south dock of Cape Charles harbor, waiting to be deployed along the town’s northern waterfront. They’re called WADs—wave attenuating devices. And these WADs are probably the first to be used in Virginia.
“They never would have let us build it if erosion wasn’t a problem,” said George Mirmelstein, agent for the owners of Seabreeze Apartments.
He said there was only 20 feet of land beyond the apartments’ foundation when he was first shown the problem, and Hurricane Irene gobbled up another 8 feet this past September.
“We’re hoping that this system—WADs—will cause the beach to recreate itself,” said Mirmelstein. Seabreeze joins two other properties in the Bay Vistas development to fund the breakwaters.
He said Seabreeze will contribute more than $150,000 to the project, which costs over $250,000. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) holds the mortgage on Seabreeze until 2033. It approved an emergency reserve loan from the Rural Development branch of USDA to help pay for the WADs.
Each wave attenuating unit is a large, reinforced, marine grade concrete pyramid. About 176 of them will be set in the water without stones or retaining fabric underneath. There will be three breakwaters—192, 188, and 77 feet long—each 20 feet wide, made of two rows of WADs, with a total footprint of 9,140 square feet.
The WADs deployment had to be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the town.
Cheriton’s Sheldon Williams, of Williams Welding and Repair, is the guy who gets to move these monsters into place along the shoreline.
“If it’s too hard, too nasty and nobody wants to do it, you call me,” said Williams.
Last week he was busy tying three barges together so he could spread out the weight of the WADs over a larger surface area, making it possible for him to work regardless of the tides.
“The way they talk, these things work real good,” said Williams.