Town wants boaters to slow down along Deep Creek

PENDER COUNTY -- Boaters may have to pull back the throttle through a popular Surf City channel.

The town this month is submitting a “No Wake Zone” state application for Deep Creek, a waterway that connects to the Intracoastal Waterway just east of the Surf City swing bridge.

“It’s a section of the waterway that’s narrow and there’s a whole lot of traffic in the summer in particular,” Surf City Town Manager Larry Bergman said.

The town is applying through the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for the wake-free designation through the channel.

Last month, following its evaluation of traffic in Deep Creek, the commission concluded that unregulated speeds in the channel “create a lot of dangers,” according to an Aug. 12 email to the town.

“There are multiple hazards to boater safety that exist within that channel, including its narrow size, the presence of fueling docks, commercial fish house, storage marina and public vessel access for commercial and residential boaters,” wrote Betsy Haywood, the No Wake Zone coordinator and commission liaison.

Hunter Tayloe, manager of the Topsail Island Yacht Club, sees firsthand the dangers boaters scooting through the channel create for the waterfront businesses along Deep Creek.

“The activity here in the channel has increased over the past three or four years,” he said. “We’ve got more boats in our facility than we’ve had in the past.”

Other businesses along the channel, including personal watercraft and boat rentals, tour boats and a fueling dock, have helped with the uptick in water vessel traffic.

“I’ve been here since 2001 and there have been several boats that come through with wakes and any boats that tie up where the wholesale fishing market is, they’re getting rocked around,” Tayloe said. “We’ve had a couple of shouting matches with boaters and people on the docks. Everybody agrees on the channel that it should be a ‘No Wake Zone.’ Unless you have a sign up people don’t really understand it.”

It may be upwards of six months before the state makes a final ruling on the application. A 60-day public comment period will be held during that time.

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