The ravages of time and nature have taken their toll on many of the channels leading to the county's creeks and harbors. Hurricanes Bertha and Fran literally dumped thousands of cubic yards in channels. Mark Carlisle of Minnesott Beach Yacht Basin estimates that thirteen thousand cubic yards of spoil will be removed by Cape Dredging, a private contractor scheduled to dredge Minnesott's channel. We have our own lite-duty dredging equipment to maintain the channel said Carlisle, but two hurricanes dumped more than our equipment can handle.
Dredging projects are planned or underway for four channels in Pamlico County. Dredging was kicked off by the Ferry Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation in Whittaker Creek. A planned ten day dredging project should leave the channel navigable with a width of one hundred feet, eight feet deep and three thousand feet long. Pierce Creek, the southeastern corner of Oriental harbor and Minnesott Beach Yacht Harbor also have plans for dredging projects.
The state legislature helped make some of these dredging projects possible by releasing funds to finance eighty percent of the dredging cost. The remainder of the expense is being raised privately by the residents and businesses benefiting from each channel project.
Residents and business interests on Pierce Creek had completed a privately financed dredging just one year ago. Cape Dredging had serviced the entrance channel in the spring of 1996. The benefits were short lived though, last year's hurricanes reversed the dredging work in short order. Cape Dredging is now scheduled to repeat the process before moving on to Minnesott Beach channel.
The southeast corner of the Oriental harbor is due to be dredged to improve the approach to the new Pecan Grove Marina. This new facility, slated to open in June of '97 will feature 115 slips. Dredging is scheduled to be done by the N.C. Ferry Division and will be paid for entirely by the marina developers.
These dredging projects are viewed as a win-win situation by local businesses and residents alike. Navigable channels are pivotal to the use and enjoyment of docks, marinas, boat yards, yacht brokers and eateries. Water borne traffic has been at the heart of Pamlico County since becoming home to it's earliest settlers. Mark Weinheimer of Banks Sails said I'm glad to see the maintenance going on in the local creeks. Since the only dredging is in the entrance channels there will be no environmental damage. The deeper openings may actually promote natural flushing action in the creeks and lead to improved water quality.
Bob Deaton of Deaton Yacht Service pointed out that Whittaker Creek was last dredged in 1976. He expects about 20,000 cubic yards of spoil to be removed by the Whittaker Creek dredging operation. I'm looking forward to fishing the channel. Bob says, A deeper cut attracts fish cruising the shallows for bait. You also find great shrimp near the channel.
Sailors, cruisers and fishermen can rest assured that the creeks and harbors of Pamlico County will have deep access channels. Whether they are seeking a safe shelter from bad weather or beautiful scenery, goods and services, Pamlico County by water offers the best of all possibilities.
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