By JOY CRIST
By JOY CRIST
Amid concerns that Hatteras Inlet was unnavigable after Hurricane Florence affected the area, local fishermen went out into the inlet waters to check on the accessibility, and to set polyform buoys to mark a clear route through the inlet waters.
“The [fishermen] are the ones who need to use it, so they were the ones who were looking around to find the water,” said Captain Steve “Creature” Coulter, owner of Sea Creature Sportfishing, and member of the Dare County Waterways Commission. “What we call the ‘Short Cut,’ where you turn out of Barney Slough, is where they found water and put buoys in it, so we can get in and out.”
Captain Rom Whitaker of Release Sportfishing, and Captain Andy Piland of Good Times Sportfishing placed the polyform buoys to effectively mark the route.
“In talking with Andy, there is slightly more water than before and little change,” said Captain Ernie Foster of the Albatross Fleet, and member of the Dare County Waterways Commission. “It’s changed slightly, but it’s basically the same, and we are in good shape.”
“The water is very high right now, but there are 11 red [polyform buoys] in the Short Cut, and you need to treat them as if they are red buoys,” said Coulter. “They are going to try to go fishing tomorrow, so we should have more updates then.”
Hatteras Inlet has been affected by storms before, most notably after 2011’s Hurricane Irene and 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which led to extreme and persistent shoaling in the channel.
Per the last meeting of the Dare County Waterways Commission on August 13, the inlet is slated to be dredged in the fall, within the permitted seasonal window of Oct. 1 through March 31. Outside of this window, approval is required from the state Department of Environmental Quality, the Division of Coastal Management and the Corps.
Per Coulter, plans are already in the works to schedule the upcoming fall dredging. “Whether we can get it speeded up because of this, I don’t know, but I know they are working on it,” he said.