UPDATE: Inlet restrictions are eased,
opening channel to charter boats
By IRENE NOLAN
Coast Guard yesterday eased its restrictions on the channel at Oregon
Inlet, allowing boats that draw up to 5 feet of water to use the
passage. The move comes just before the busy Easter week for charter
boats, most of which draw between 3 and 5 feet of water and can now get
through the inlet to the ocean.
The channel has been closed
since Saturday to vessels drawing more than 2 feet of water because of
shoaling in the marked channel and in alternate channels under the
Bonner Bridge that captains had been using.
A survey last week
showed the federal channel with a depth of 6 feet under the navigation
span of the bridge and less than 2 feet on the seaward side.
Coast Guard recently declared the channel a regulated navigation area,
which allows it to impose vessel traffic restrictions to safeguard
vessels from shoaling and to reduce the risk of a strike on the Bonner
"The Coast Guard will impose restrictions only when
necessary based on inlet conditions, and will provide the public with
as much advance notice as possible," according to a statement released
The Oregon Inlet Guides Association also released a
statement yesterday, saying that with "the fishing season in full
swing, local charter and commercial fishermen were relieved by the
“We want to work closely with the Coast Guard to
maintain a safe inlet," said Captain Greg Mayer of the Fishin’ Frenzy,
a featured competitor on the nationally-televised fishing show, "Wicked
Tuna: North v. South."
"I’m really pleased that
they were able to consider our input this week – we’ve got decades of
experience monitoring and accessing the inlet with safety as a top
priority," Mayer said. "Our economy and our families depend
upon continued safe passage, and now we’re back in business.”
Guides Association had been meeting with the Coast Guard to discuss
alternatives to the closure of the channel to boats that draw more than
2 feet, which essentially eliminated all watermen who use the channel
to make a living.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent two
dredges this week to work on the heavily shoaled inlet. The side-caster
dredge Merritt, which can operate in relatively shallow water, is
currently dredging in the inlet. It will clear a path of up to 8 feet
deep to allow the larger hopper dredge Currituck to carve out a channel
as deep as 14 feet.
U.S. Army Corps sends dredges to open Oregon Inlet
With passage block, Coast Guard closes Oregon Inlet