Quick engineering work and a bit of luck allowed the Wharf House Restaurant and Capitola Boat and Bait to reopen on Jan. 9, just a week after heavy winter surf destroyed two pilings that support the small boat hoist.
The New Year’s Day damage on the Capitola Wharf prompted immediate temporary fixes, including installation of a steel beam and braided cables that are currently holding up the damaged portion.
But even as hungry customers returned to the eatery, the boat business is hobbled without its hoist, which is the cornerstone of its business and out of commission until permanent repairs can be made.
“This is about 10 tons of concrete, and a small boat hoist that sits there, causing it to sag,” says Capitola Public Works Director Steve Jessberg.
Jessberg says he saw the area under the hoist sink six inches when he visited on Jan. 2, and another two inches a few hours later. It was the first time such settling has occurred, he says.
“It was moving quickly, and we determined that we needed to take immediate action to stop the hoist from falling into the ocean,” he says.
The Capitola City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the repair work, which so far has cost $25,000.
Engineers are now evaluating two options, the less desirable of which would require bringing in a pile driver to replace the broken pilings to the tune of $100,000.
Jessberg says the city is scheduling a team of divers who would evaluate the parts of the broken pilings that remain underwater, so that fiberglass-concrete pilings might be installed on top. That would cost about $50,000, Jessberg says, and is the option he recommended to the council.
In either case, the damaged wharf must be raised back into place. The work could include removal and reinstallation of the heavy hoist.
All the repair work comes from Measure F, the quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2014 and again in 2016 to fund city services.
The fund currently has $1.2 million, which is earmarked for flume, jetty, and wharf improvements.
The City Council will approve the final project.
“I think we got really lucky,” Councilmember Ed Bottorff says. “Looking at that I think the fact that the hoist didn’t fall into the bay really was fortunate for us.”