The wharfinger’s office at Clutesi Haven Marina is surrounded by water after the parking lot flooded at high tide on Dec. 20. The water came up to the sliding doors of the office. MIKE CARTER PHOTO

Port Alberni’s marinas escape storm with minimal damage

The Port Alberni Port Authority’s marina facilities escaped major damage despite high winds and a king tide on Thursday, Dec. 20.

Mike Carter, director of operations for the port authority, said he was “very concerned, because it’s some of the higher tides we’ve seen this year.

“For a storm of this magnitude we’ve fared very well as of this moment,” he said Thursday night. “It was some of the highest water I’ve seen in many years.”

The tide at its highest point was 11 feet on Thursday, Carter said.

Clutesi Haven Marina sustained minor damage in the king tide at midday Thursday. The parking lot was flooded, and the wharfinger’s office had water up to its sliding door. A fixed dock leading to the river float also received a bit of damage due to rising levels of the Somass River.

‘King tide’ is a non-scientific term used to describe exceptionally high tides. These higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and during specific seasons around North America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On the west coast they typically happen in mid-November to mid-December.

The dock, which is normally fixed to two cement pylons, was lifted from its moorings in the extremely high tide—“which I’ve never seen before,” Carter said. “It’s not broken. It’s basically a fixed pier.”

The dock will be left as it is for now, as Carter was expecting an even higher tide—12 feet—Saturday afternoon.

The caretaker at China Creek Campground and Marina said there were trees down in the park but access in and out of the campground was not blocked.

“There’s quite a few trees down in the park,” Carter said. Power was also out at the campground.

At Port Alberni Terminals there were no large ships nor fishing vessels docked, so nothing threatening infrastructure in the choppy Alberni Inlet water. Power was knocked out to the port authority offices on Harbour Road. Although Carter did not have an official strength for the wind on the waterfront, he was taking to one boat owner who said he observed a reading of 49 kilometres per hour at his stationary vessel.

The wind produced a two- to five-foot chop on the water in the inner harbour. “A five-foot chop is very serious in that kind of proximity,” Carter said.

Centennial Pier was closed to pedestrians as the high tide brought the pier and its ramp to the same height as the parking lot at Harbour Quay. “I closed off Centennial Pier this afternoon because there was water and even debris flying up onto the pier itself,” he said.

Swept Away Inn, which docks at Centennial Pier, was still operating despite the storm. Owners Dan and Bouchra Savard were busy preparing dinner for their guests as the wind began to die down Thursday night.

The pier was installed in 2012 as a breakwater to protect infrastructure and boats at Fisherman’s Harbour. A similar storm in 2006 caused thousands of dollars of damage, and forced the port authority to look for a breakwater.

“It performed tremendously as a protection for Tyee Landing, where the fuel dock is, and also where Lady Rose Marine is. I have to stress that saved a lot of our infrastructure,” Carter said.




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The parking lot at Clutesi Haven Marina flooded at high tide midday on Thursday, Dec. 20. Port Alberni experienced an 11-foot high tide, according to Port Alberni Port Authority director of operations Mike Carter. MIKE CARTER PHOTO

Thursday’s king tide was so high that a fixed pier at Clutesi Haven Marina was lifted off its pilings. Port Alberni can expect another king tide on Saturday afternoon. MIKE CARTER PHOTO

Thursday’s king tide was so high that a fixed pier at Clutesi Haven Marina was lifted off its pilings. Port Alberni can expect another king tide on Saturday afternoon. MIKE CARTER PHOTO

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