Everyone was under the impression the Coast Guard was going to do something about it,” said Perry, the owner of the Harbour Cove Marine Services in Somers Point. “Nothing has been done and it’s almost impossible to get through.”
Many boaters use the inlet, which connects the Great Egg Harbor Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. It is located near the Ocean City-Longport Bridge. Local residents are concerned the upcoming boating season could be hazardous for visitors to the area, especially those with larger boats, who may be unfamiliar with the problem of outdated navigation markers on the water. They fear this could lead to more damaged and capsized boats and serious injuries.
That was almost the case Friday when a 55-foot commercial fishing trawler ran aground on a sandbank and had to be towed across the bay to Somers Point.
“It’s a very nasty inlet,” said John Bodin, operations manager for Towboat U.S. who also serves as the Marine Safety Officer for Somers Point. “The best way I can describe it is driving down a road that leads to a brick wall. You are going to crash.”
The change in tides causes a lot of shifting sand in the area, and this inlet is more problematic than others in the region, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Corrina Ott said.
“It’s a very fluctuating environment there,” she said. “It’s one of the areas we pay attention to.”
The Coast Guard surveyed the inlet at the end of last year and approved changes this winter for the buoys that direct boat traffic, said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Dave Pilitowski. A team from the navigation unit in Cape May plans to make the changes to the markers to direct boaters more northward as early as Monday, depending on the weather.
The team will survey the area a few times a season and change the markers as needed, but Pilitowski said they are dependent on local residents to update them of changes.