Just got a PM from someone who no longer posts saying the Oregon Inlet has really shoaled in beneath the bridge, possibly as little as 3 feet of water in the channel now. He asked that I post this information so that sailboaters didn't try to navigate the inlet and get into trouble.
The next thing I did was made a telephone call to a friend who runs a charter fishing boat out of Oregon Inlet. He said yes, the channel beneath the bridge has not been maintained, it has been shoaling in for years, but he still managed to get his 55-foot Hatteras through at high tide without touching bottom. I haven't been through the inlet in the past 4 years because every time I'm in that area the wind's howling, the surf's crashing in the inlet, and no one can run the inlet, which is nothing more than a ditch through the surf.
I DO NOT recommend anyone trying to run their sailboat through Oregon or Hatteras inlets--both are real nasty, even during the best weather. And, as I posted earlier, unless you really know what you are doing, stick with the protected waters of the ICW if you're serious about going south. Yes, you'll be motoring most of the time, and yes, you will be going slow, but if you want fast you shouldn't have become a sailor.