Shoaling Prompts Navigation Changes in Virginia Inside Passage

From June to August, dozens of aids to navigation will be removed in the Virginia Inside Passage on the state’s Eastern Shore.

The dayboards once warned boaters where shoaling caused shallow spots, but as shoaling has continued, the markers’ locations have become misleading. Captains that use the markers to navigate may still run aground, because they’re no longer accurate. The Coast Guard says it’s not able to safely access the aids anymore to maintain them.

USCG will oversee contractors removing 56 dayboards located in shallow portions of the waterways from Gargathy Inlet to north of the Great Machipongo Inlet. 

The Coast Guard consulted with the Army Corps of Engineers and local partners several years ago to identify “aids most likely to lead boaters into dangerous situations,” as the Coast Guard puts it. The agencies identified 166 of these aids, and after trying out removal methods, the contractor began removing the first 56 markers on June 1. The remainder will be taken out next year.

Captain Rick Wester, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, says the Coast Guard will keep the public informed as the project progresses. “When aids to navigation become a potential hazard to navigation, it is our responsibility to remove them,” he says. “We appreciate all of the public input we have received on this project, and we’ll continue to fully advertise the timeline for removal of specific aids via the Local Notice to Mariners.” 

Along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Eastern Shore Regional Waterways Committee, the Coast Guard will continue to target areas for dredging in the future. They may re-mark the areas in the future, if money becomes available to dredge those areas to at least six feet.

-Laura Boycourt