Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mariner's Cove

Once upon a time, this bowl on the shoreline east of Oak Harbor was probably a lagoon, surrounded by salt marsh, and cut off from the rest of the Sound by a narrow spit.  Northerly drift would have forced the tidal inlet to the northern end, where remnants of what may have been its ebb-tide delta are still visible as scattered gravel bars in the nearshore.

This site, like so many, is best appreciated in an aerial view, which you can to through the LOCATION tag at the bottom of this post.

At some point, presumably when the developers dredged out the canals and created the building lots, the inlet was relocated to the southern (updrift) end of the spit and jetties were built to maintain the channel.  Sediment builds up against the south side, but the beach to the north gets nothing.  The result is a starved beach consisting of a lag of coarse gravel and cobble.  Anything finer is trapped beneath this pavement of larger stone. The beach is almost flat, since there is no mobile gravel or sand for the waves to build into a normal beach face.

There's been talk for years about placing sediment dredged from the shoaling inlet onto this beach and I believe the community is close to making it happen.  It will be interesting to watch.  There are a few other bypass operations - all small by national standards - on Puget Sound.  Point Roberts, Keystone Harbor, and maybe one or two small private marinas like this one.

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