A major cruise ship will have to bypass Santa Barbara this week because sand is blocking the harbor entrance. The Sapphire Princess was scheduled to arrive Wednesday morning and send its tenders into the harbor full of tourists.
Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman says the sand is a result of the recent stormy weather and a longer-than-usual period without dredging.
"You know, there's like 300,000 cubic yards of sand out there, but they're going to focus primarily on digging a navigable channel for all boats to go in and out of, and hopefully we'll be close to that by the end of the weekend," said Kronman. "Remember, this is underwater construction and unforeseen things happen, but we'll cross our fingers and take it from Thursday."
The sand that's removed will be moved down toward East Beach... where it will become part of the regular flow again, providing sand to some beaches that lost much of theirs during the storms.
An equipment problem stopped the dredging on Saturday. Each day the harbor entrance is blocked creates a financial problem for local businesses that depend on tourists, including whale watching and sight-seeing tours.