Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Useless Bay

Useless Bay got its name from George Vancouver, who found its sandy shoals useless for larger boats.  The shallow bay represents one of the larger sand traps in Puget Sound.  Converging spits have formed at the north end of the bay, partially enclosing Deer Lagoon (now largely diked).  (Aerial view)  Homes line the primary spits on each side - homes where families can enjoy wide warm sand flats in the summer and ponder the significance of future sea level rise during the winter. (Useless Bay: February 2006 storm)

The first picture is from Double Bluff park on the west side, where a fascinating network of sand spits have grown and shifted during the course of the last couple of decades.  There is no shortage of sand - both in the bay and coming from the big bluffs just around the corner.

The second picture is from Sunlight Beach on the east side of the bay and shows the remnants of Henny's Spit, which disassembled itself in the mid-1990s and continues to try to sort itself out.  Part of its problem is that as new spits form, they starve existing spits down drift, leading to erosion, breaches, and instability.  There is also a complex interplay in these sandy systems between offshore bars and subaerial spits.  Maxwelton, three miles south of here along this same shoreline, also suffers from an overactive beach (Mackie Park).

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