Chatham Harbormaster Cautions Boaters From Using North Inlet

CoastGuardBeachChathamCHATHAM – A number of shoals are popping up in the north inlet of Chatham between North Beach and North Beach Island, prompting the harbormaster to ask boaters to use the old inlet.

The inlet, created by a 2007 breach in the barrier beach, has over 100 yards of shoals on the inside and is shallow.

Instead, Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith is encouraging boaters to use the south inlet, that is located across from the lighthouse.

That inlet, created by a 1987 break in the beach, is in better shape and is marked by three flag buoys.

Smith said he wants to caution those that still want to use the north inlet.

“It is usable at very high tide so maybe an hour either side of high water for your average 25-foot outboard driven boat. But if you miss, you run aground, you’re going to be there for a considerable amount of time,” said Smith.

Chatham officials believe that the north inlet is a flood-dominated inlet, which means the larges exchange of water comes on the incoming tide.

Summer boaters last summer were forced to run parallel to South Beach for a distance before entering the main channel in the old inlet.

A 40-foot fishing boat almost sank in September 2014 after getting swamped on the bar.

Smith said that’s why they were hoping the north inlet would have become the dominant inlet.

“As the ’87 inlet, the one in front of the coast guard station, if that shoals in and gets shallower, which we would expect over the coming years, then we expect the north inlet to become what they call the dominant inlet and become deeper. It’s just that hasn’t happened yet,” said Smith.
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