For all the talk about visions of an operational Port of Port St. Joe, head down to the Intracoastal Waterway to find a real-life example of the possibilities.

 

For all the talk about visions of an operational Port of Port St. Joe, head down to the Intracoastal Waterway to find a real-life example of the possibilities.

On a relatively small scale compared to the possibilities discussed over the past 15 years of port-development efforts.

Once again, for at least the fourth time in the past year, Townsend Marine of Port St. Joe is contracted for a significant piece of business moving cargo through the port.

Over the next five months, using a section of the barge terminal property now owned Eastern Shipbuilding and leased to Townsend, the local marine company will be facilitating a project to move equipment and materials south to St. Petersburg.

The ultimate goal for the company out of St. Louis running point on the project is the construction of a channel and jetty in Blind Pass, a small town near St. Petersburg.

“I’ve got the facility and we’ve got the location,” Townsend said of the project, which consists primarily of transferring equipment and materials, including boulders of all sizes, from river barges to certified deepwater barges.

Essentially, the Port St. Joe facility operates as a transfer station; the equipment, including a large crane, has been staged along the Intracoastal opposite Raffield and Wood’s Fisheries.

River barges, carrying the boulders and mats placed on the water’s bottom for stabilization in constructing jetties, arrive from points north, underscoring what has long been an attraction for the Port of Port St. Joe; access to an inland waterway spanning thousands of miles.

Once the river barges arrive, their cargo is transferred by crane and tow, onto the more robust ABS certified barges for transport via deepwater down the Gulf Coast to St. Petersburg.

“They are moving an awful lot,” Townsend said of the total weight that will move through the port area in the coming months.

Though destined for another part of Florida, the work is leaving a trail behind locally, Townsend noted.

The company fueled up with 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel just this week and, obviously, that will be repeated during the next few months.

The crew uses the local taxi service to go into town to purchase their groceries and other necessities, the local economy benefiting with some additional revenue at a time when scallop season has yet to begin.

“It is good for the town and that’s the idea behind a port,” Townsend said.