By Mike Busch
The big dredging operation to clear Moriches Inlet and pump the sand to Smith Point is over, almost a month later than expected. The $10 million emergency project approved by the Army Corp of Engineers earlier in the year wrapped up late last week, with the crew from Week’s Marine still breaking down all the equipment before moving on to their next project.
Fire Island and Beyond has been monitoring the situation since several Nor’easters in a row pushed sand over the East jetty last Spring. For a full recap, check out all the stories we have done on the inlet and the dredging from start to finish here.
I heard from a local commercial fisherman that still has concerns about the width of the channel and how long the new channel will last. I spoke with Captain Joe Tangel of the charter boat King Cod yesterday after he took a run through the inlet on Monday with some other commercial fisherman to check the channel. Joe has a lifetime of experience in Moriches Inlet and is a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed 100 Ton Master and has held his Captain’s license for over 20 years.
“It’s still dangerous”, he explained after taking his 41 foot Hatteras out to inspect the sand bar. He was pleased with the depth of 15 feet but the channel is narrower than he expected at only about 150 feet vs the total width of the inlet of around 600 feet. Since there are no buoys, it will still be easy to run into trouble.
Joe is not optimistic that this is more than a temporary band-aid, “If the channel lasts two years I would be happy”. And there is still nothing to stop sand from washing over and around the East Jetty in a storm like happened last Spring. Asked what he would like to see done, Joe thinks a regularly scheduled maintenance program instead of waiting for the inevitable emergency would be the better way to go. Another problem is the lack of buoys. Even temporary markers would help mariners. “To spend all this money and not have navigational markers is ridiculous”. Every south shore inlet is buoyed, why not Moriches?
Below are a few photos taken last March showing how much sand spilled into the east side of the inlet last March, partially filling in the inlet.
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