Shoaling, labor shortage cited as reasons for ferry schedule adjustments

Published 3:44 pm Monday, June 6, 2022

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A labor shortage at Hatteras and severe shoaling issues in Pamlico Sound have forced the North Carolina Ferry System to adjust its summer schedules to and from Ocracoke Island, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“The Ferry Division has been working to address its labor needs with six job fairs across eastern North Carolina in 2022, but still needs to fill several temporary and permanent positions to be able to fully staff its summer operations at Hatteras,” stated the release. “Those interested in applying should go to the state jobs website and search the term ‘ferry’.” A seventh job fair is scheduled in Manteo on Thursday, June 9.

NCDOT stated that until staffing needs are met, the vehicle ferry schedule between Hatteras and Ocracoke will be:

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From Hatteras: 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and midnight.

From Ocracoke: 4:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Additionally, severe shoaling in Pamlico Sound’s Bigfoot Slough has created a safety issue for the largest of the sound class ferries. Those ferries have been pulled from the route and schedules have been adjusted to reflect the change, effective immediately:

Cedar Island to Ocracoke: 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Ocracoke to Cedar Island: 7:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Swan Quarter to Ocracoke: 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Ocracoke to Swan Quarter: 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

“The Ferry Division is working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have an emergency dredging operation conducted in Bigfoot Slough as soon as possible,” stated the release. “Once water levels in the ferry channel have been returned to a safe depth, the Pamlico Sound routes will resume their normal summer schedules.”

Travelers making short visits from Hatteras to Ocracoke are encouraged to use the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry to avoid wait times for the vehicle ferry. The passenger ferry makes three round trips daily, taking travelers directly into Ocracoke village, where a free tram operated by Hyde County will take them to shops, restaurants and attractions. Reservations are available online or by calling 1-800-BY-FERRY.