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Kevin Duffan
Kevin Duffan
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Oregon Inlet Boaters: Shoaling Still a Problem

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It likely doesn’t come as a surprise to boaters familiar with the Oregon Inlet: shoaling is again causing serious problems for travel in and out of the inlet.

On Thursday of last week, the Coast Guard issued a press release warning boaters of dangerous conditions at Oregon Inlet, particularly near the center of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. According to the press release, the Army Corps of Engineers measured water depths as low as two feet in that portion of the channel; just two weeks ago the depth was as much as 18 feet. The belief is that the most recent—and sudden—shifts in water depth are attributable to a nor’easter that moved through the area.

For now, the Coast Guard is advising that deep draft vessels cannot safely navigate the channel and should seek alternate routes. Even shallow draft vessels might be affected in the near future.

With the shoaling continuing, so too does the seemingly-endless struggle against it. As the Pilot Online reports, the Army Corps of Engineers is planning to start dredging the Inlet again on Monday in order to get the channel back open. Of course, any dredging fix is temporary—and no one knows how long it will last before storms or shifting currents work to close it back up. As we learned in the wake of Hurricane Irene, our weather can have a strong impact—good or bad—on shoaling and whether the channels are open for use.

Until a more permanent solution is found to the Oregon Inlet shoaling problem, it seems that we are often at the mercy of Mother Nature. Boaters need to be aware of this and stay abreast of current conditions and advisories.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.