Watermen unload their catch at Menchville Marina on Deep Creek. Keeping the channel navigable is crucial to their livelihood. Photo: City of Newport News

Hampton Roads Boaters Await Deep Creek Dredging Project

Deep Creek, off the James River in Newport News, Virginia, is about to get a much-needed deeper channel. The $4.28 million project is the result of a partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Newport News. The dredging is scheduled to begin on Feb. 15, 2024.  

Deep Creek is located on the north side of the James, just prior to the entrance to the Warwick River and Fort Eustis. The small harbor has been serving commercial and recreational boaters for decades. It is lined with both marinas and residences. The harbor itself is not as deep as its name might suggest, at no more than 10 feet and much less in some spots. The creek allegedly got its name from the narrow but deep channel at the entrance to the harbor.      

The north side of the James River outside Deep Creek is notoriously shallow. At low tide, swimmers from the beach have to walk several hundred feet before they can actually take a swim. Because of that, the channel into Deep Creek is 9,000 feet long. It was previously dredged in 1996 and 2003. 

As you enter the harbor, you will find Menchville Marina located on the west side. It has been serving commercial waterman for generations. The James was once famous for its oysters, and many of those were offloaded here. This area is also know for producing seed oysters, and spat collected and distributed from here have been distributed throughout the Bay into Maryland. According to the City of Newport News, Menchville Marina “is a critical component of the Virginia oyster fishery. It serves as a central location on the Peninsula for seafood offloading and distribution for watermen working the lower James River and its tributaries.” In 2021, the marina supported 225 watermen and 90 boats.

Just down from Menchville, find Deep Creek Landing Marina.  In addition to slips and fuel, they offer kayak and jet ski rental, a youth sailing program, and event venue. There is even an onsite honeymoon suite. On the north end of the harbor is Warwick Yacht and Country Club.  This members-only club offers docking, ramp, and club-type amenities such as tennis, pickleball, dining room and a pool.  On the east side is James River Marina, which also offers wet and dry storage as well as fuel. 

The dredging plan calls for a 9,000-foot channel that is 100 feet wide and 8 feet deep. It also calls for dredging a 1,900-foot section of the harbor to 8 feet.  Approximately 130,000 cubic yards of dredge material will be removed then deposited on Craney Island in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

“We are very excited about the dredging improvements,” said Jessica Godfrey, Owner of Deep Creek Landing Marina. “As an active marina and boater, having a navigable channel is essential to our boating community.” Godfrey noted that while the dredging is a great start, the creek has additional areas that need to be dredged to support recreational and commercial boaters.  

Danny Dangerfield, who just finished a two-year term as Commodore of the Warwick Yacht and Country Club, had similar comments. He was very thankful for the dredging.

“This was necessary. The channel silts in. There has been a reduction in large vessels and sailboats using the harbor as a result.” He added, “This is maintenance dredging. They are only dredging the existing channel. More work needs to be done.” Like Godfrey, he said additional parts of Deep Creek need to be deepened.        

The dredging will impact boaters from February to the middle of June.