Habormaster Rick Griffin said a new mooring field at the Beaufort Downtown Marina could be established within a few months, which means boat owners anchored near the marina need to start considering what they will do with their boats after it opens.
Griffin updated City Council on the progress of the plans Tuesday and discussed implementation and finance issues.
The city has a $100,000 federal grant for the field, and Griffin, who has a contract with the city to manage the downtown marina, is kicking in about $33,000 more. That should be enough to pay for 15 mooring balls and anchoring spots, Griffin said.
Plans allow for up to 49 moorings.
Griffin said it would be cost-effective to sink as many anchoring spots into the riverbed as possible at one time. The cost per anchoring spot goes down when more are purchased at once. And it would save about $12,000 in equipment and manpower if the contractor installing the anchorings doesn't have to return repeatedly.
"The idea is, while he's here with his equipment, get as many anchorings down as possible, so he doesn't have to bring his equipment down again," Griffin said.
Rent for the moorings has not been set, but he said the average monthly cost in other mooring fields is $250, or between $15 and $25 a day.
That means the boats anchored in the bend of the Beaufort River, where the mooring field will be, will need to move or pay to moor once the project is completed.
If they are not in the mooring field, however, the only requirements are boats must have lights and be properly registered, said Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
"We have to think about the cost structure, and I'd hope it wouldn't make it so it was pushing people out," Councilman Mike Sutton said.
Check back with The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet for more details later today, and follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin .