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INDIAN RIVER INLET:
THEN AND NOW

By Eric Burnley

  Delaware’s Indian River Inlet lies in the southeast corner of Sussex County, the area native Delawareans call lower, slower Sussex County. While that remains true for most of the county west of the coast, the area around Rehoboth, Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach comes alive in the summer.
  For fishermen, the two marinas on either side of Indian River Inlet hold their boats at the ready for adventures that vary from flounder action right off the coast to billfish in the canyons. Both offer short runs to the ocean without any obstructions like bridges or sandbars to implead their progress.
  There have been a series of bridges over the inlet that suffered from the tidal currents, storms and bad planning. The current bridge is a marvel of engineering that has no supports in the water and is high enough to clear any sportfishing boat.
  The Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware, recently published a look at the history of the inlet and the yacht basin:
  “Beginning in the 1940s, the northside was the place for people to gather and catch a boat to go fishing. There were both charter and head boats running from the marina,” the Cape Gazette report said.
  “According to a 1939 edition of the Wilmington News Journal, the Indian River Yacht Basin was part of the plans by the Delaware State Parks Commission to turn Delaware’s coastal lands into a large recreational center for bathing, fishing, picnics, and yachting. This effort came just one year after the Indian River Inlet became navigable from the Indian River Bay to the ocean.
  “The next mention of the basin came from the Wilmington Morning News in 1946 when the paper mentioned the basin was capable of servicing boats up to 75 feet with all classes of marine supplies, repairs and wharf facilities.
  “A Wilmington News Journal article that same year credits John J. Marsh of Rehoboth Beach as the person who spearheaded the effort to open the basin. Marsh formed the Indian River Yacht Basin Corp. and rushed into action to dredge a harbor deep enough by July 1 to accommodate 50 deep sea fishing boats. Party boat owners took advantage of the new yacht basin along the Delaware coastline where the Indian River Bay and the Rehoboth Bay could find access to the sea. Marsh died in 2008 at the age of 95,” the Cape Gazette reported. (Read it here: https://www.capegazette.com/article/indian-river-yacht-basin-1940s/275849)
  The marinas today are a far cry from what they were when I first arrived on the scene in the late 1950s.

This is a very well-equipped tackle shop run by Burt Adams and his family.
This is a very well-equipped tackle shop run by Burt Adams and his family.
The half-day head boat Judy V to take customers out to the fishing grounds in the ocean.
The half-day head boat Judy V to take customers out to the fishing grounds in the ocean.

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