For Bill Band, the sailboat races on the Severn River are a great time for climbing aboard his 27-foot boat and joining the competitions. But sometimes he can't get out of his own cove because Yantz Creek is too shallow.
"It's very frustrating, especially when you're in a series of races," said Mr. Band, 69. "If you're in the last series of a race and you can't get out, you just wasted four weeks of racing. It's embarrassing."
Now Mr. Band and other members of the Yantz Cove Preservation Committee Inc. have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge two feet off the creek bottom. If the request is approved, about 999 cubic yards of sand would be dredged from the "L"-shaped channel connecting the Severn River to Yantz Cove, said Matt Gall, a biologist with the corps.
Some of the sand would be used to create marshes behind three existing bulkheads on Yantz Cove. The rest would be dumped somewhere inland in the United States, said Mr. Gall.
The project, which could take more than a week to complete, would increase the cove's depth to about six feet. The channel is less than four feet deep, said Mr. Gall.
"They need a little bit more room to maneuver in the cove," Mr. Gall said. "It has been getting shallower and shallower."
The application also proposes a 60- by 10-foot stone revetment on the cove's west shore entrance to prevent erosion. Mr. Gall said he didn't know when the Corps of Engineers would decide on the proposal.
lTC Mr. Band, a retired naval architect, hopes the corps will decide soon. He said he likes to enter the Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon races that have become a regular event for local sailors. Three times, however, he hasn't been able to get his boat out of the cove because of the shallow creek bed and low tide.
"For the last 10 years, it's been getting slowly worse," he said. "It's in everyone's interest to have it properly dredged."
Al Passori, president of the preservation committee, said he had to move his 33-foot sailboat to the Severn River because of Yantz Creek's shoal depths.
"It requires local knowledge to navigate through the cove," said Mr. Passori, who still uses his powerboat on the creek. "If you approach it from the river, heading into the cove, the depth is only 1.7 feet. You're bound to hit the bottom."
Mr. Passori also said the marshes would become home to all kinds of fish, crabs and blue herons -- a creature he has never seen in 10 years at the waterfront community.
"It's nice to strike a balance between homeowners and the environment," Mr. Passori said. "The focus isn't just dredging. I'm committed to creating marshlands."
This would be the third time the creek has been dredged. It was last dredged in 1985, said Mr. Band, who has lived at the Linstead community on the Severn River since 1972.
A door-to-door fund-raising campaign by property owners raised to pay for the dredging, Mr. Band said. The operation added about a foot to the creek's depth.
Mr. Band predicted that the current proposal would solve the problem for a long time.
"I think that if they increase the depth about a foot [to seven feet], it should reduce the problem entirely," he said. "It should be a permanent solution to the problem."