First WADs in Virginia Installed Off Cape Charles

Crew lowers a WAD (Wave Attenuating Device) into the bay off Seabreeze Apartments at the foot of Washington Street. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 31, 2012

Rain pelted Scott Bartkowski as he waited on the breakwater. It had been a long day. First, the sun and tide were both out, and the barges sat grounded. By high tide, waves of black clouds dumped downpours on the crew, but they worked anyway.

That’s how it played on the first day of the first wave attenuating devices (WADs) in Virginia.

“I’m the inventor, so I know it’s the first,” said Bartkowski as the thunderstorm raced toward shore. He is president of Living Shoreline Solutions, Inc. Until now, most WADs have been used as artificial reefs. “These particular WADs were designed specifically for here, in Cape Charles.”

WADS are massive concrete pyramids that sit on the aqueous bottom in rows, breaking the wave action and helping a new beach form at the water’s edge. In Cape Charles, three private landowners have joined to pay for the WAD breakwater to prevent further erosion to their land.

It was Sheldon Williams’ job to move the monster WADs into place. Williams, of Cheriton,  inched his barge toward the drop site.  People waiting in the water watched for lightning, inundated by the sweeping storms. Slowly, slowly, the barge was nudged into position. They tested the crane, then in one swoop — PLOP — the WAD was set in its permanent position.

Bartkowski expects it to take 10 days to complete all three breakwaters, which will extend around Seabreeze Apartments to the pilings of the old ferry landing. [Read more…]