HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) – Over the last few summers, many boaters in Holden Beach or Oak Island stayed away from it. Now the Lockwood Folly Inlet has been dredged and we went to see how smooth sailing will be entering the summer.
The inlet has for centuries been a part of nautical traffic. Those with the inlet association tell WWAY’s Andrew James that they almost lost it. Now it’s reportedly in the safest shape sailors have seen in years.
For the last few summers Captain Cane Faircloth has not looked forward to the voyage.
“We’d actually have to get going really fast and skip across the sandbar to navigate and get through it, which was super dangerous but it was the only choice that we had,” said the Captain who is also a founding member of the Lockwood Folly Association.
That’s all because sand erosion was causing a built up shoaling at the mouth of the Lockwood Folly Inlet. Faircloth says, at low tide, it could be as shallow as 4 feet.
For the past two seasons in Captain Faircloth’s business, Ollie Raja Charters, had to take visitors through the Shallotte River inlet or through the Cape Fear river.
That after he and a group of boaters and shrimpers took a stand in 2016.
“At the point when it all came together, the core of engineers told us we almost lost the inlet it was almost completely gone,” Faircloth said.
They weathered the storm and the dredging came to remove the sand. The Army Corps of Engineers completed it this past winter. Now the inlet is nearly double the depth at low tide as it was before.
“Personally I would say the traffic has quadrupled on it since last year,” Faircloth said.
It’s that kind of traffic Faircloth claims to also bring a boost to business in the way of fuel or equipment sales. Needless to say, it may not be the smoothest sailing as our Andrew James found out, but Faircloth says it certainly will be safer sailing.
“What we’re coming to learn is that the inlet is in the best shape it’s been in the last ten years.”
Faircloth says they are still hoping the Coast Guard will put out more navigational beacons, buoys. right now two sit at the inlet’s mouth but eight have been ordered.