Traditionally, resorts have their beach maintenance employees hand rake the beach and bury the weed/grass at another part of the beach or resort.
However, this poses several challenges to resorts.
- It draws man power from their staff that is needed to perform other vital functions around the resort's grounds.
- Hand raking takes a long time--especially when the beach is a good size.
- Hand-raking is not nearly as effective as mechanical raking, so the beach does not look as good when the workers are done.
- Transport of the grass/weed to its dumping site is laborious and tedious.
- It costs a lot of money to pay dozens of workers to clean the beach by hand, and the costs increase even more if overtime is required.
- During heavy weed season, the beach may need to be cleaned multiple times per day. This compounds the negative effects previously described.
Beach cleaning machines make seaweed removal exponentially more efficient and effective, and they have become a major tool in maintaining the Caribbean's reputation for pristine beaches.
Beach cleaners improve upon traditional hand raking methods in many ways:
- They allow one person to operate the machine while the rest of the staff performs necessary duties around the resort.
- Beach cleaners clean the beach rapidly and remove acres of weed per hour, which means there is more time for visitors to be on the beach without maintenance workers.
- They assist resorts that use contractors to eliminate a major recurring cost by keeping beach maintenance in-house.
- After removing the grass/weed, a beach cleaner can then transport it to hidden areas of the resort or dumpsters to dispose of it.
- They will also clean the beach much more thoroughly, removing not only the top layer of grass, but also cleaning up to 6" into the sand to remove other hidden debris.
When cleaning sea grass/weed with a beach cleaner--especially in the Caribbean, where vast quantities can accumulate quickly, a machine that utilizes a top-down cleaning method should be utilized.
Top-down beach cleaning means that the machine removes seaweed in layers, starting with the top layer. With each subsequent pass, the machine removes another layer of grass until nothing is left but sand. The machine can then clean deeply into the sand to remove any other debris or impurities.
This top-down cleaning method used by tine raking machines is the most effective method of removing seaweed, because it prevents the machine from getting clogged. Sifters and screeners that use rotating bars in the front of their machines to scoop sand and debris onto a vibrating screen try to pick up the seaweed all at once, which results in overloading the machine or tangling the weed around the front 'beater-bar.' Additionally, unlike sifters that utilize this beater-bar, the top-down method will not cut grass into smaller particles or 'chew up' the weed, which would bury the weed deeper into the sand and make it harder to remove.
The video bellow demonstrates how a tine-raking machine would remove large piles of sea grass in several passes. It was taken in the Turks and Caicos islands, where heavy grass is a seasonal hazard to their normally pristine beaches. The Barber SURF RAKE depicted bellow operates on numerous beaches on the island of Providenciales, which was recently named the 'World's Best Beach' by TripAdvisor.com. The resorts' beach cleaning programs have certainty contributed to earning this honor.