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The jetty at Clearwater Pass: Why no lights?

Most of the time, the Clearwater Pass jetty keeps the low profile befitting a structure that stands only 7 feet above the water. But when a boater hits the 4,000-foot-long rocky barrier, as local developer Roland Rogers did early Monday, questions inevitably arise.

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published October 26, 2006


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Why isn't the jetty marked with a string of lights? (Right now, there's just one in the water near the end of the jetty.)

There's not one main reason, but several explanations. For one, city and Coast Guard officials said boaters who stay in the marked channel, which has its own lights, and consult local navigational charts should have no problems traveling in and out of the pass. Besides, adding lights to the jetty could confuse boaters who are trying to follow the lights in the channel. And putting lights on the jetty could disorient nesting sea turtles or their hatchlings.

Who built the jetty and why?

The city built the jetty in 1975 for $2.6-million. It is designed to prevent erosion around Clearwater Pass. It extends west from Sand Key and curves slightly to the south at the end.

How many boaters have struck the jetty over the years?

Tough to say. City officials were researching the question, but couldn't give a total number Tuesday. Bill Morris, the city's harbormaster for the past eight years, said he could recall about three accidents. Likewise, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Deakyne at Sand Key could recall one or two accidents in recent years. In 1998, two 27-year-old men died when their powerboat hit the rocks, spun in midair and landed upside down on the jetty. The harbormaster at the time said the city had had no problems with the jetty before the fatal wreck.

How is Roland Rogers doing?

Rogers, 44, remained in fair condition Tuesday at Morton Plant Hospital.

He injured his head, chest and knee at 1:47 a.m. on Monday when he crashed his boat into the jetty and was thrown onto the rocks.

Rogers, who has built or partnered in about 20 developments on Clearwater Beach, declined to talk about the crash, which was still being investigated Tuesday.

Will anything change as a result of Rogers' crash?

Morris said he expected the incident would generate further talk about the jetty, but would result in no changes.

Safe, experienced boaters have no difficulty avoiding it, he said.

"The bottom line is, if you're out driving, you need to read the chart," Morris said. "And if you're reading a chart, you won't have a problem."

[Last modified October 26, 2006, 07:34:09]


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