Boaties heading to Karuah during the Easter long weekend will be among the first to use a new floating pontoon which completes a project to upgrade the wharf facilities started in 2017.
The $240,500 worth of works, funded through the NSW Government's Boating Now program, involved the replacement of Karuah's timber wharf with a L-shaped floating pontoon that aims to "improve the accessibility and usability of the ramp".
"Boaters can now enjoy easy and safer access to the Karuah River no matter what the tide," an RMS spokesperson said.
"This project follows the completion of a $657,123 project at the same site in August 2017 to upgrade the boat ramp and car park."
The first stage in the boat ramp upgrade caused waves among users in September 2017 because it did not resemble what had been discussed during the planning stages.
The works included relocating the eastern pontoon to align with the outgoing tidal flow and installing a modified deck to allow access to vessels at water level.
Port Stephens Council was forced to find a solution to a problem that arose with the first round of works - boats drifting under the gantry.
A bright orange buoy line was installed along the gantry and rocks to stop boats from drifting on the incoming tide.
The need for the L-shaped pontoon was highlighted during an incident in September 2017 when Karuah man Wayne Patterson was forced to dive into the river after his boat when the bowline snapped and it started to drift away.
Port Stephens Council said further improvements would be made to the the wharf once additional funds became available.
The Liberal Party announced in February 2019, during the state election campaign, that stage two of the Karuah boat ramp upgrade would be funded.
The stage two works included:
- The existing timber wharf removed
- The floating pontoons made to a 1.5m width to avoid these being affected by the low tide and coming into contact with the sea bottom
- Hand railings installed on the inner faces of the new pontoons to allow for easier use
- The new pontoons constructed as a concrete decking, matching the existing pontoons
- The new pontoons connected to the southern pontoon
"The Karuah boat ramp upgrades are wonderful, and the project is exactly what the boating community have been asking for over many years," Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said.
"We now have new, floating pontoons that will make the ramp safer and more user-friendly for many locals and visitors when they try to launch their boats in rough tidal conditions.
"The project couldn't have been completed at a better time. With great weather coming up next week, I'm sure the boat ramp will have plenty of happy users during the school holidays."
Since 2013, 19 recreational boating infrastructure projects totalling $2.6 million have been completed in the Port Stephens electorate under the NSW Government's Better Boating and Boating Now programs including the installation of a new pontoon at Tea Gardens, the Lemon Tree Passage aquatic infrastructure upgrade, Taylors Beach wharf replacement and Seaham boat ramp upgrade on the Williams River.