May 1, 2013
Boats are back to using the main channel in Hatteras Inlet
By IRENE NOLAN
fishing, charter, and private boats are back to using Rollinson Channel
to safely navigate between the harbor in Hatteras village and Hatteras
Since January, many boats were using an alternate channel
that goes farther west into the sound to bypass the heavily shoaled
Rollinson Channel, also known as the ferry channel or main channel.
has been a problem ever since Hurricane Irene in 2011. The
problem was exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy last October and several
northeasters last fall.
By mid-January, the shoaling had gotten
so bad that the ferries stopped running for a month and then resumed
operations in the alternate channel.
The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, which is responsible for keeping the channel clear,
contracted for a company with a pipeline dredge to clear the sand out
of the channel.
The dredge arrived on the scene just before
Christmas and left last week. However, the channel is still
problematic, especially in the area of marker 12B.
In that particularly dynamic area at the inlet, there has been more shoaling since the dredging.
the ferries are still using the alternate channel, while the Corps
tries to come up with a solution that will keep the main channel open.
However, charter captains and commercial watermen are using the channel without problems.
is very narrow and shallow in places,” said Rom Whitaker, captain of
the Release. But he said it is safe – for now – for boats that draw
less than 5 feet of water.
“We have a better scenario than we had this time last year,” added Dan Oden, manager of Oden’s Dock.
At least, both Oden and Whitaker noted, fishermen and captains have a safe alternative to the main channel.
Whitaker says the alternate route takes about 15 minutes longer for him to run than the direct route to the inlet.
that alternative is especially important to Hatteras village and its
marinas and businesses now because the Hatteras Village Offshore Open
is just around the corner.
The offshore fishing tournament, the
first event in the Governor’s Cups billfish series starts with
registration on Tuesday, May 14, and fishing Wednesday through Saturday.
The tournament is sponsored by the Hatteras Village Civic Association and raises money for several local non-profits.
year’s tournament was plagued by shoaling in the channel, and some
boats decided not to fish in the tournament for that reason.
Robinson, president of the civic association, said he’s hopeful that
the main channel will remain open and if any problems develop, boats
will use the alternate route.
“As long as we have a safe passage, we should be okay,” he said.
However, he added, “After dredging, I never expected this – never in a million years.”
“We didn’t get our money’s worth,” said Whitaker.
the shoaling got really bad over the winter, Whitaker and other local
captains located and marked the alternate channel, which has plenty of
water. Most were using it until this week.
that although the smaller boats can use the main channel for now, he
doesn’t think that will last too long. It will shoal up again, he says.
The Army Corps has not said how it intends to address the problem area in the channel.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For information about the Hatteras Village Offshore Open or to register, go to http://hatterasonmymind.com/HVCA/HVOO/.