Burnt-Out Marina Channels Opened with Portable Dredge

“It was unreal the way this piece of equipment performed”

When Jerry Brucker was appointed regional property manager for Schryver & Partners Development, he didn’t know what he was in for.

After completion of Harbor Point, a 226-unit condominium marina in St. Louis, Missouri, his company acquired the defunct Centerpoint Marina, 18 miles up river. It had burned down and was left vacant for nearly 15 years.

The channels had silted in and were just a few feet deep. Most of the debris from the fire had collapsed into the basin forming an almost impenetrable mass. This was to become Duck Club Y.C., a 117-slip luxury condominium harbor.

Brucker’s first move was to rake out as much of the large pieces as he could, but a tremendous amount of trash, logs, and pieces of docks, boats, and roofing remained. To dig out the channels, his company purchased a Versi-Dredge® Model 4010 manufactured by Innovative Material Systems (IMS). The portable dredge features a patented pumping system and an eight-foot cutterhead.

“Trying to move 80,000 cubic yards of material at Duck Club was not duck soup,” says Brucker. “Two and one half feet of silt had settled in over the years becoming a thick, black-stick gumbo on top of a high-density clay filled with rocks and other junk.”

Originally, the harbor had been dredged to only five feet of depth. The Duck Club specifications called for six to eight feet of draft. “Not only did we have to deal with the removal of the black-stick and clay, we also had to avoid removing too much clay, which would release a volcano of sand, refilling the already shallow harbor,” said Brucker.

“In spite of efforts to get the large pieces out before we started dredging,” says Brucker, “we ran into rusting sections of tin roofing but the Versi-Dredge® ate it up and just chucked it out the back.”

Sometimes the newer pieces of tin would wrap around the cutterhead. These were easily removed so the dredge could get quickly back in action.

Brucker reports that the whole job was not as bad as they had originally thought, thanks to the capabilities of the Versi-Dredge®. He said he originally mounted a backhoe on the back of the dredge to be used in removing the bigger chunks of debris, but as the dredge worked through the material he discovered he didn’t need the backhoe at all.

Brucker doubts that the Versi-Dredge® could be given any tougher job.

“It was unreal the way this piece of equipment performed. There were times when we were pumping clay and debris 1,500 feet away.”

Perhaps the toughest part of the job came when the dredge was called on to eat away a 300-foot long wall of earth and clay that had been built at the top of the U-shaped marina. The wall was the remains of a road that had been built to facilitate moving equipment in and out of the marina area during reconstruction. It also formed a dam between the marina and the Mississippi River.

Tearing Down the Wall

The roadway had been brought down to water level. Brucker elected to dig out the remainder with the dredge. While this is not exactly what the Versi-Dredge® had been designed to do, it successfully eliminated the wall. When the job was complete, the people of the St. Louis area have a highly efficient, very attractive new marina.

The IMS Versi-Dredge® Model 4010, powered by a 177 hp Cummins diesel engine, has a 10-inch suction and discharge. At 24 feet long (28 feet with cutterhead) and eight feet wide, it can fit into slips and be used for marina maintenance.


The customer service manager of IMS helped train the dredge operators for Duck Club Marina.

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