Chatham Boaters Impacted by Sand Filled Channels

CHATHAM – The winter storm has long passed but its effects are still being felt by boaters off the coast of Chatham.

Harbormaster Stuart Smith says significant changes have occurred to several channels along the outer barrier beach system due to shoaling from nor’easters.

The Morris Island Channel will not provide easy access for boaters coming from Stage Harbor or the west and Nantucket Sound like it did last year.

“The Morris Island Channel is shoaled in considerably,” Smith said. “At low tide you could probably walk across it.”

Smith said it could be difficult for boaters from the west, or towns of Yarmouth, Dennis and Harwich, to visit South Beach. They might only have a couple of hours on either side of high tide to navigate the Morris Island Channel.

The Pleasant Bay Channel going by North Beach Island is very narrow and shallow between buoys 11 and 12.

“We have made it a no wake area,” Smith said. “We put a caution sign out there on the northwest tip of North Beach. We are not allowing people to anchor there because they are interfering with vessel traffic.”

Smith says boaters will not be able to follow their track lines from last year.

“If you follow last week’s track line it’s not going to be any good – nevermind last summer’s,” he said. “You have to really go out on a nice clear day and re-enter all your way points into your GPS.”

Smith said the North Inlet is most passable among the barrier beach system.

“The South Inlet is basically impassable. You can’t really use it,” he said.

For inlet in front of the Coast Guard Station, which broke through in 1987, is only passable at half-tide or better for average outboard boats.

Smith says they are also watching the federally managed entrance to Stage Harbor which has not had any impacts and is well marked and a good depth.

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