Divers increase depth of Hiiumaa navigation channel by 20cm in one night
Work on deepening the Rukkirahu Channel, the navigation channel separating the western island of Hiiumaa from Estonia's mainland, began overnight on Friday, following which the channel had been deepened by 20 centimeters already by Saturday morning, reported the state-owned Port of Tallinn.
According to maritime survey company Meremõõdukeskus, dangers to navigation lying at lower depths were removed with the help of divers and the depth of the channel had already been deepened to 5.25 meters throughout by Saturday, compared to the 5.05 measured before the work began.
"A tugboat will arrive at Rohuküla Harbor today, which we will equip with a trawl and begin trawling the seabed as soon as weather permits," Meremõõdukeskus manager Peeter Ude said on Saturday.
Ferry-operating Port of Tallinn subsidiary TS Laevad commissioned the work on deepening the Rukkirahu Channel as a result of low sea levels in the area which have continued affecting ferry service connecting Hiiumaa to the mainland. The aim is to clear the dredged channel, which is approximately 60-65 meters wide, of rocks and a wall of mud that has formed in its center,after which the channel's depth should increase by a total of 20-30 centimeters to approximately 5.3 meters, which will enable larger vessels to sail between Estonia's second biggest island and its mainland even when sea levels are low.
Work on the channel, which will cost 42,000 euros, should not hamper ferry service and is expected to be completed on Tuesday.
The deepening of the Rukkirahu Channel is being carried out in collaboration between the Port of Tallinn, regional port operator Saarte Liinid, the Hiiu County government, Meremõõdukeskus, the Maritine Administration and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
TS Laevad reported on Friday evening that ferry traffic between the mainland and Hiiumaa would continue to be affected over the weekend as sea levels were forecasted to drop as much as 74 centimeters below the Kronstadt mean sea level, the local benchmark for the eastern Baltic Sea.
As the Regula and St. Ola sat idle, unable to operate at such low sea levels, the route was served by the smaller ferries Harilaid and Kõrgelaid, the space restrictions of which forced the operator to issue a recommendation for motorists who had not booked passage for their vehicles to either change their plans for the weekend or leave their vehicles in port.