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Posted by Jeb Brinkley | 11.28.2023 | Uncategorized

Wrightsville Beach Re-nourishment: What to Expect as a Surfer

Wrightsville Beach is gearing up for an eagerly awaited federally funded beach re-nourishment project scheduled to kick off in December 2023. Re-nourishment involves pumping sand from the seafloor back onto the beach to replenish what has eroded due to natural forces and human activity. With Wrightsville Beach long overdue for this restoration, surfers are anticipating positive changes to their local waves.

Wrightsville Beach 2018 – this picture was taken after the completion of the last Wrightsville Beach re-nourishment project. Notice how much beach there is between the dunes and the ocean!

If you’re new to the area or unfamiliar with the re-nourishment process, here’s a concise rundown:

  1. Dredging: The US Army Engineering Corps will deploy a dredge to a sandy-bottomed body of water, typically Masonboro Inlet for Wrightsville Beach projects. Ensuring the sand’s chemical and mineral composition matches that of the eroded beach is crucial.
  2. Pipe Installation: Massive sections of metal pipe are laid along the beach strand, connecting to the dredge in the inlet. This pipe is used to transport sand from the dredge to the beach, where it is deposited on eroded sections.
  3. Sand Placement: Workers utilize bulldozers to distribute and shape the deposited sand, aiming to recreate a natural beach appearance.
  4. Adjustments: Throughout the project, the re-nourishment team modifies the length of the pipe, adding or removing sections to deposit sand in different areas until completion.

The impact on the beach town will be noticeable for about a month or longer, with a pipe running between dunes and water’s edge. However, the re-nourishment team will construct sand bridges for safe passage over the pipe.

In the inlet, boaters should expect restrictions on speed due to the large dredge, and occasional closures as the dredge maneuvers. Surf enthusiasts crossing the inlet to reach Masonboro are advised to find alternative transportation or explore Wrightsville Beach during this period.

The inconvenience is outweighed by the prospect of improved surf conditions. Re-nourishment typically rebuilds sandbars, enhancing the surfing experience. While familiar sandbars may shift or disappear temporarily, the excitement of discovering new spots adds to the adventure.

This image is from November 2023. Notice that, compared to the earlier image, there is significantly less beach here. Especially when you consider that this image was taken during the low tide, a few hours later there was only about 15 feet of dry sand.

In summary, Wrightsville Beach’s winter will see the arrival of fresh sand, a temporarily altered coastline, and the promise of excellent waves. Keep an eye on local surf reports for updates on evolving sandbars and embrace the opportunity to explore new surf spots. Get ready for some fun in the waves!