$2.7 Mil Mission Bay Lifeguard Dock Expansion Project Nears Completion
By: Jack Innis | Thursday, April 03, 2008 10:58:00 AMLast updated: Thursday, April 03, 2008 10:58:00 AMNew facility — three times larger than old docks — to open in May.
— Recreational boaters likely will appreciate a major expansion and renovation of the San Diego City Lifeguard headquarters dock facility at Quivira Basin in Mission Bay. Although largely behind-the-scenes, the $2.7 million dock expansion project slated for completion in May should benefit recreational boaters in several ways.
Photo by: Jack Innis photoUnder Construction — Workers are building new docks at San Diego City Lifeguard Headquarters at Hospitality Point in Mission Bay. The new facility, set to open in May, is three times larger than the docks being replaced, which were condemned three years ago. Lifeguards responding to mayday calls or other emergencies will be able to reach waiting rescue vessels faster. Since the old docks were condemned three years ago, the vessels have been kept at a various locations in Mission Bay.

“We’ve got 22-foot Boston Whalers, rigid hull inflatables, 32- and 36-foot multi-use rescue boats that are equipped for marine firefighting and personal watercraft in operation,” said City Lifeguard Lt. John Greenhalgh. “Since the old dock was condemned about three years ago, we’ve not been able to keep them in one central location.

“We work in conjunction with the Coast Guard on vessels in distress,” Lt. Greenhalgh added. “Our vessels are generally some of the first responders, because we’re so close to the ocean.”

The new docks are aligned to enable the rescue craft to exit Quivira Basin faster, which should cut down on emergency response time.

In addition, the enlarged facility may one day serve as a Customs dock. Currently, boaters who visit Mexican waters are required to moor at a designated Customs dock to wait for inspection prior to continuing to a slip, dock or mooring.

Vessels entering Mission Bay must now wait at a very small dock adjacent to the busy Dana Landing launch ramp. With three times the linear footage as the old facility, the new lifeguard headquarters docks will likely ease congestion at the launch ramp dock by serving as the new Customs dock. Final arrangements have not been made, although talks are under way.

City lifeguards will gladly share dock space with other law enforcement agencies. Such agencies may include the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“With the additional space, we’ll be working with other agencies to give them a spot to come in and tie up when needed,” Lt. Greenhalgh said. “It’s sometimes helpful just to have another place to get out of the weather.”

The new facility will sport a covered service bay with a boat lift powerful enough to raise the lifeguard’s largest rescue craft completely out of the water for servicing, said chief mechanic Dan Perkins. This lift capability should make the lifeguards less reliant on nearby Driscoll Mission Bay Boatyard for boat lift service.

In addition, the lifeguards will get their own fueling station, making them less dependent on nearby commercial fuel docks.

Overall cost of the project includes demolition and disposal of the old docks, said San Diego city project manager Jihad Sleiman. Aside from a $715,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), the entire project is being paid for by the city of San Diego, according to Sleiman. FEMA funds were granted in association with damage that occurred to the old docks in 2004 and 2005, Sleiman said.

“We’ll have a ribbon cutting ceremony when the project is completed; most likely Mayor Jerry Sanders and other dignitaries will be here,” Lt. Greenhalgh said.

Unlike San Diego Bay, which has a harbor patrol operated by the Port District, San Diego City Lifeguards act as harbor patrol officers within Mission Bay. Near shore from Point Loma to Torrey Pines, the lifeguards also are often first on the scene to help boaters in distress