Ocean City Today

OC, county need safe, stable inlet

Feb 22, 2018



printed 02/23/2018


Having already agreed to provide $300,000 to pay for a study of the shoaling in the Ocean City Inlet, the Worcester County Commissioners this week were surprised, understandably, to learn that’s just half the funding that will be needed from local sources.

Now, they’re looking for help in the most obvious of places — Ocean City.

Despite the occasional suggestion that the inlet’s navigability isn’t really Ocean City’s concern, it most certainly is, assuming that no one wants to see the resort’s slogan changed to “Former White Marlin Capital of the World.”

Judging from what has happened at Oregon and Hatteras inlets in North Carolina, it is more than conceivable that passage for this area’s charter fishing vessels could become difficult to impossible if the shifting sands problem isn’t addressed.

That’s what happened two years ago at Oregon Inlet, which the Coast Guard closed to boat traffic when continuous shoaling cut the channel’s depth to three feet.

That left only a few inches of clearance for boats of roughly 30 feet in length or less, since even a 30-foot custom Carolina draws on average about two-and-a-half feet of water.

And those 50- and 60-footers that are a large part of the White Marlin Open fleet? They draw anywhere from four-and-a-half to five feet. Even a layman’s guess would be that they need a couple of feet of water under the keel to allow for sea conditions, tidal actions and other forces at work. In other words, a seven-foot-deep channel.

Even though it’s highly unlikely that a study will produce an “Aha!” moment that will pinpoint the problem and lead to a permanent solution, it has to be done before any subsequent action by the Army Corps of Engineers will be considered.

In that regard, Ocean City government not only needs to match the county’s contribution to the study’s cost, it and the county need to begin discussing what they’re going to do when the Corps of Engineers declares that keeping the inlet open will be an ongoing and expensive proposition … for which it has little money.

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