GOOSE CREEK — The Fourth of July was the first time Jack Moore put his 21-foot boat in the water at the Bushy Park Landing.
It was also his last, said Moore, who lives in Moncks Corner.
“We churned mud all the way in,” he said. “I couldn’t find the channel. I won’t use this landing again. It needs to be dredged.”
Karen and John Dills, also of Moncks Corner, understand. They use the landing every weekend, and although they don’t have any difficulties with the shallow water in their flat-bottom boat, they see a lot of others who do.
“We don’t have problems,” said Karen Dills. “We just have to barrel in till we get here, but a lot of the big boats have problems. We see two to three get stuck on any given weekend.”
The boats typically get stuck at low tide, when some areas have as little as a foot of water.
“Over the years, there’s been shoaling near the river and it’s just gotten shallower and shallower,” said Berkeley County Engineer Frank Carson.
In April, Berkeley County Council approved spending $58,200 on a feasibility study to figure out the best options for dredging the site. Officials hope the problem will be fixed by 2016.
The site, which straddles Bushy Park Road just past the Naval Weapons Station, offers boaters access to both freshwater and saltwater.
On one side of the road, two ramps provide access to the freshwater Bushy Park reservoir, which is fed by Fosters Creek and the Back River.
The other side gives boaters saltwater access to the Cooper River. That’s where the problem is.
“This is one of the best places to put in,” said Tim Bazzle of Summerville. “But it would be a whole lot better if it were usable at low tide.”
In 1989, when the landing was renovated, the two double-lane launch ramps were usable at all times, according to a story that ran in The News and Courier at the time.
In 2007, the Coastal Counties Boat Ramp Study named the saltwater side the most popular and busiest coastal boat ramp on South Carolina’s coast, even while study participants complained about the shallow depths.
“As far as being functionally closed, it’s essentially that way now at times,” said Carson. “Somebody not familiar with the waterway is going to get stuck in the mud. It’s a problem, and a lot of people recognize that, but there’s not an easy solution for it.”
Experienced boaters try to avoid the ramp for about two hours before and after low tide.
About half a mile, from the landing to the river, needs to be deepened, Carson said. The cost to do it depends on how much has to be dredged and how far it has to be hauled. Now, the closest established spoil area is 3 miles away.
The county probably won’t know the pricetag for another year, and the work is set to be done in 2015.
In the meantime, boaters share their local knowledge and use caution in the area.
“It’s sad how the nicest ramp in the Cooper, if not Charleston, is essentially unusable,” said Harold Schwartz of Goose Creek. “It would be a true loss to see people not be able to use it anymore and have to go elsewhere.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.
John Dills of Moncks Corner drives his boat off its trailer as he and his wife, Karen, prepare for on an outing during low tide Thursday at Bushy Park Landing, one of the most popular in Goose Creek. Dills said he doesn’t have any problems navigating the landing but has seen larger boats get stuck at low tide.(Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)×