With a new Oregon Inlet Task Force in place and working to find a "long-term and sustainable solution" to the inlet's navigation problems dating back more than 60 years – and Governor Pat McCrory touring the area with his newly appointed DOT secretary and pledging to fast-track state help for the inlet and N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island – members of the Outer Banks' commercial fishing, charter boat and boat building industries have good reason to be a bit more hopeful these days.
"We're up from the last several years," Briggs Boatworks owner Sonny Briggs told the Sentinel in January. "But the inlet is not helping at all. At one time we had 20 major boat builders right here in Dare County, but the last few years boat building has slowed down. Now we're down to about six."
Asked for an update last week, Briggs had a mixed response: "The inlet is not affecting us now quite as much – but it's still not a good inlet. I think it's better than it was a year ago. The charter boat men in the last couple of months have finally gotten to where they can come and go, but they really have to know what they're doing. The problem has still not been fixed.
"I wouldn't say it's picked up considerably, but interest has picked up. More people are interested in having a boat built and more boat builders are building boats.
"When you leave Ocean City, Maryland, Oregon Inlet is seven and a half hours south. If you run another three hours you can go to Beaufort or Oriental, but that's a long day. After seven hours you're ready to tie that thing up, wash her down and get something to eat. So what you're looking for is the ability to duck in to Oregon Inlet, spend the night, get some fuel and continue on the next day. Oregon Inlet is a good stopover, but people haven't been able to do that recently. That's one reason we need a good, reliable inlet."
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National Fisherman Live is a web video series featuring the latest fishing news, product information and industry analysis by our editors. In this episode:
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