TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WECT) - Even though it was recently dredged, those who travel through the Topsail Inlet say it's already filling in. One area business says it has gotten so shallow, they were forced to move.
"We couldn't get out during high tide, let alone low tide," explained Buddy Mizelle, who drives the Queen Jean, an offshore fishing charter boat.
"It's been very frustrating, very frustrating," said Mizelle. He says they had to move everything 26 miles away, to Sneads Ferry. However, since all of their advertisements and signs still say South Topsail, he says many customers are having trouble finding them.
"We are sitting there waiting on like 10 people, and they are at South Topsail wondering where the boat is," explained Mizelle, who added that some don't even bother making the journey.
"They don't want to drive, so we lose the customers, that's money out of the business," said Mizelle. He says it isn't just a business problem, it's also a safety concern. "We see it all the time, people are where they think they are supposed to be, but they can still run aground and get hurt."
During high tide, there can be as few as two feet of water under even a small boat. Mizelle says that makes it difficult to go through at all during low tide. Mizelle says he knew the inlet would fill in and told the town they were dredging too early.
Town leaders say, the Army Corps of Engineers has told them they will be back with a smaller dredge in the end of July, adding they tried to get the Corps out earlier, but said the agency needed the dredge for another location at the time. Leaders also hope to use a much larger pipeline dredge in November.
Representatives from the fishing charter say they are worried that the water will be too shallow for the smaller dredge later this summer.