Carolina’s Most Wicked Inlets
Inlets are our gateway to great fishing. However they can also be a nightmare to deal with. Shifting channels and moving shoals can happen in a matter of days. With 2020 getting under way, we wanted to point out 5 of the Carolina’s most challenging inlets and what makes them dangerous.
1. Oregon Inlet, The North Carolina Outer Banks. The entrance became shoaled due to massive amounts of water that rushes in and out from the sound behind the Outer Banks. The shoals combined with the winds create large waves just outside the inlet. Sudden wind direction and tide changes can turn the inlet into a vortex of moving water. This is not an inlet for a novice boater no matter what size the vessel.
2. Carolina Beach Inlet, Carolina Beach, NC. This inlet changes on a frequent basis due to the current that is fed by the outflow of the nearby Cape Fear River. While the inlet is easy to transit in good conditions, it can become dangerous with the slightest change of wind direction or tide. Fortunately, Masonboro Inlet near Wrightsville beach is a few miles away and can serve as a safer alternative if needed.
3. Charleston Harbor, Charleston, SC. Most boaters would disagree with this due to the depth of the channel and the number of aids to navigation. However, Charleston Harbor does have a few dangers that are significant. First, it’s a high traffic shipping channel that operates 24 hours a day. Navigating the channel with heavy traffic combined with less than good sea and weather conditions can be a concern. Also, the navigation system has a few areas that can be misleading due to the angle of view which can result in boaters coming too close to the jetties.
4. New River Inlet, Topsail Island, NC. Transiting New River Inlet can be either a great thrill or the scare of a lifetime. Today, the inlet is open with limited shoaling to be expected. However this twisting, turning inlet is narrow and many times it’s hard for boats to pass in that twisting channel. In Past years New River Inlet has experienced shoaling problems and has gone significant lengths of time without dredging. It takes an experienced boater to transit it on bad weather days. Extreme caution should be used at night.
5. Bogue Inlet, Cedar Point, NC. Knowing where the shoals and shallows are located is key to running this short, but challenging inlet. It’s commonly run by commercial fishermen, guides and locals that are familiar with the changes and shoaling. If you’re unfamiliar with Bogue Inlet, it’s suggested that you be patient and wait for another vessel to show you the way. You’re even better off waiting for a commercial vessel that is more likely to know the best approach.
There are a number of other inlets in the Carolina’s that can be considered dangerous. Many of these inlets are smaller, without aids to navigation and far less boating traffic. We suggest that you consult other boaters with local knowledge of information about transiting local inlets.