Thursday, June 27, 2013

High Speed Realestate--Beach Overruns Metompkin Island Channel

When I first began exploring the Virginia Inside Passage (VIP) it was passable in smaller boats from Chincoteague to Cape Charles. In fact, the Coast Guard advised me that it seemed to be getting better and they were able to run the passage in their 40-footers at high tide. I'm sure extensive local knowledge helped.

The Wire Passage, near marker 70. 2005.

But several storms over the past few years have moved the beach so far the passage has vanished.

Wire Passage, Fall 2012.

Will this eventually turn into a new inlet, perhaps 5 years from now? Possibly, but I think probably not. Are there alternative passages that might be developed? No, all of the alternative guts are tiny. And still, the tides have to flow somewhere, so in 5 years I'm sure things will look different. For now, there is no inside passage from Chincoteague to Wachapreague. This is a very lightly used area, so the Army Corp of Engineers and Coast Guard will justifiably take no interest. Read this:

Coast Guard seeks public comment for disestablishment of Virginia Inside Passage

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard is seeking public comment on the proposal to disestablish the navigational aids along the Virginia Inside Passage inside of Metompkin Bay near Chincoteague during the next two months.
The proposed disestablishment is due to encroaching shoaling conditions, limited surveys and a lack of funds to dredge the passage.
Navigation along routes from east to west or the inlets that lead to and from sea will not be affected by the changes.
The proposal encompasses the disestablishment of 135 aids to navigation along approximately 100 miles of the Virginia Inside Passage from Chincoteague to the northwest side of Fisherman Island.
The Coast Guard is soliciting comments on the proposed disestablishment and the possible impact on business operations and navigation along the route.  It is also requested that the type of transportation used is included in the correspondence.
Comments may be sent to Albert Grimes via e-mail at or by mail at Commander (dpw), Attn: Albert Grimes, 431 Crawford Street, Room 100, Portsmouth, VA 23704-5004.

It seems the markers for the inlets--Chincoteague, Wachapreague, Sand Shoal--will be maintained as these are used daily by the local fishing fleets. Thus, they will remain available as alternative harbors for sailor interested in the Delmarva route. However, for those that would like to run inside, it sounds like the time is NOW!

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