By Mike Busch 8-30-18
With the Moriches Inlet dredging project about to start dumping tons of sand on Smith Point Beach just east of the Old Inlet Wilderness breach, I wanted to get a good look at the inlet before it starts and monitor how things change. The last beach nourishment project for Smith Point dropped over 2 million cubic yards pumped from offshore in 2016. A lot of that sand washed west right into Old Inlet. While the project about to start is not nearly as big (appx 300,000 cubic yards of sand) there is a fear that this could result in Old Inlet closing once again. Considering the comeback of the Eastern Great South Bay as a result of the inlet, this would not be a welcome development for those that fought to keep it open.
Unlike the last time I check out the Inlet in mid June, water quality was very poor in both the bay and ocean. There are reports of some Rust tide in some parts of the bay and the hot weather has caused some kind of macroalgae blooms so that is probably the reason for the cloudy water. One of the blooms I ran into near Old Inlet was too thick to run an outboard through.
As you can see in the video and a few of the photos below, the sand spit on the east side is growing and appears close to connecting to Pelican Island. The deepest part of the channel seems to be narrowing as well.
I also checked out the Bellport Pavilion that continues to sit dangerously close to the high tide line. Normally at this time of the year we would have more sand built up but due to the inlet a few miles to the east, beach dynamics have changed leaving this area vulnerable as the storm season approaches.