Pictured is the breakwater in Port Hood, taken in 1961.

PORT HOOD: What began years ago with requests from fishers and residents of Port Hood Island for navigational aids to mark the breakwater between Port Hood and Port Hood Island will soon result in safer passage for local boaters.

“I have made a lot of calls over the past couple of years to the Canadian Coast Guard to encourage them to mark this passage,” said Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster. “They have been studying the location and have taken an interest to better learn what the crossing means for local users.”

Earlier this year, soundings were completed by the Coast Guard to determine the position of the remaining breakwater that is submerged below the ocean surface. Storms in recent years helped to erode the breakwater to make the opening larger and potentially safer for boat traffic. After gaining local community input at a meeting held on November 20 in Port Hood, the Coast Guard said it will mark the passage of the breakwater with red and green buoys, along with adequate lighting to guide the way at night.

MacMaster spoke to The Reporter last Thursday about the project. He said he’s very happy to know the project is in the works.

“It’s always been dangerous – at least possibly dangerous – without the passage being marked,” he said, noting that local fisherman have marked the passage from time to time. “But storms have continued to erode the section where they cross.

“They’ll proceed now with making the passage.”

Speaking on behalf of fishermen operating out of Murphy’s Pond, the harbour in Port Hood, was manager Nancy Cameron-Dykens. She said news of the Coast Guard’s work is most welcome.

“There will be many happy people, especially Port Hood Island residents, fishermen and recreational boaters, who will now have proper navigational aids in place to keep them safe,” she said.

Port Hood Island has about 30 seasonal households and events like the Chestico Days Boat Parade make travel frequent between the wharf at Murphy’s Pond and the island.

The first attempt at constructing the breakwater was in 1905 with horse drawn sleds dragging stones. Still incomplete, further work happened in 1937. It was not until October of 1960 that it was completed after a 1958 federal election promise. No causeway was ever built upon it although it was often a topic of interest during provincial election campaigns. Breakwaters were a federal responsibility and causeways for auto traffic were a provincial responsibility.

“A lot of people will be thanking the Coast Guard for their decision,” added MacMaster.