Improving the breakwater: Gabion basket installation

After our beach project was completed, we observed that water flow in the Potomac was washing sand into and out of the beach area.  After studying the matter, we decided to close up the gap on the west end of the beach area by installing a “gabion basket” filled with rocks in the gap between the western spur and the old breakwater.

A gabion basket is a basket made of steel wire — here’s a photo of a wall made of gabion baskets.

We had a gabion basket approximately 16 feet long X 4 feet wide X 5 feet deep.  On June a5 and 18 we installed the basket into the gap and filled it with boulders.

First, we had to pick up the boulders, supplied by Vance Headley in Heathsville.

Frank Goyette and his truck ( the little blue one) loading rocks. Joe Schlatter used his truck and took the photo. Frank and Joe hauled one truckload each on June 15;  on June 18, Frank made one load and Joe made 2 loads for a total of five truckloads of stones between the two days.
Load of boulders ready to be moved out to the gabion basket.

We used two methods to get the stones from the trucks out to the basket, a distance of about 150 feet into the river. All work was manual labor using hand tools, no power equipment was used.

One method of transporting the stones from the shore out to the gabion basket was to slide the stones down planks into a garden cart, submerged in the river.  When the cart was filled with stones, pull the cart out to the basket and move the stones into the basket.

Frank (brown shirt) and Dave Williams (white shirt) in the river with the cart. Joe was on the bulkhead, lifting rocks from the trucks and sliding them down the planks into the cart.
After the cart was filled with stones, Frank and Dave would roll the cart out to the gabion basket. This photo was made near high tide when the basket was completely submerged.

The other method was to use a pulley system.  We embedded a post into the river bank beside the gabion basket.  From that post we ran a steel cable to the bank where we tied it onto Frank’s truck.  We then suspended a 5-gallon bucket from a pulley on the steel cable.  We used ropes tied to the bucket to pull it back and forth.  Joe would lift rocks into the bucket, Frank would pull the bucket out to the basket and dump the rocks, then Joe would pull the empty bucket back to the shore and repeat.

Here’s the pulley system. Frank and Dave are working on the gabion basket while Joe made this photo. Joe would place rocks into the bucket, Frank would pull the bucket out to the basket, empty it, Joe would pull the empty bucket back, fill it with rocks, and repeat.

Here’s the finished product.  The gabion basket, filled with stones, can be seen just protruding above the surface of the water at the left of the old breakwater.

Another photo of the finished work. At the left of the photo is the western spur that extends from the shore into the river. At the right center is the old breakwater. The gabion basket filled with stones is slightly above the water on the left end of the old breakwater. We probably will install a second gabion basket in the gap between this basket and the western spur.