Removal of buoys near Cape Lookout raises concerns among boaters

HARKERS ISLAND, N.C. (WNCT)–The Coast Guard temporarily discontinued buoys 27 through 33 Monday after heavy shoaling in the area made the waterway inaccessible to many vessels.

For the folks who navigate the Barden Inlet daily, the removal of the markers isn’t as big a deal as it is for weekend boaters who aren’t as familiar with the inlet and risk running aground.

“You could still have some really skilled skippers coming through the area that aren’t always sailing in the sound and they’re going to be depending on what they see,” BG Horvat, Cape Lookout National Seashore, said. “They’re going to be depending on the shoal markers that they see now.”

Those buoys were replaced with danger shoal markers but the posts not moved. And many mariners still feel the urge to follow the line of markers, and risk running aground.

“Every day there’s at least two or three people who run aground,” Captain Mike Crusie, said. “This area is a very dangerous area because you have to go around a shoal that extends probably 400 yards to the west.”

Mike Crusie has worked as a captain for 40 years and operates a ferry for The Island Express.

“We’re used to running the channel but for just the normal mariner that’s trying to go from Harkers Island or the Beaufort or Morehead City area running the back way to the lighthouse, it’s very shallow.”

The water is a mere 2.9 foot at its lowest point during low tide inside of the channel.

“A lot of times on either side of this deeper area, which is sometimes only 3 foot deep, on either side it’s only 1.5 foot deep,” Crusie said.

Three boaters ran aground Tuesday alone.

“Saturday is probably going to be a big day for us,” Captain Mike Lewis with the Harkers Island Fire Department said. Lewis said if boaters run aground it could result in serious injuries.

“People will be standing at the front of the boat and get thrown to the bow of the boat which can result in head injuries, broken arms or broken ribs,” he said.

Locals say dredging is the best solution. The inlet hasn’t been dredged in about 20 years. They’re urging other residents and visitors to contact their local representatives.

Categories: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *