Ferries running different route between Hatteras and Ocracoke

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

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On Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, North Carolina ferries running between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands started used a different route.

The new route adds about 20 minutes to crossing time for Hatteras Inlet. A media release states “shoaling no longer allows the Ferry Division’s vessels to safely navigate the current channel.”

The change comes as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to begin emergency dredging efforts in the ferry channel known as Barney Slough. The channel has become dangerously shallow. In several instances, ferries bumped the bottom of the channel and needed costly repairs to fix damage to the vessels, states the media release.

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Barney Slough is a federal channel and the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain. NCDOT ferry division has drawn down close to $3 million for Army Corps dredging Barney Slough. Those funds were intended to address all Rollinson Channel projects.

Permits for Dare County’s Miss Katie to dredge federal channels in Hatteras Inlet are anticipated by the end of the year. The only channel the Miss Katie can dredge now is the Connector Channel.

Ferries will use the deeper and safer Rollinson Channel, which is 1.5 miles longer and will add roughly 20 minutes to each one-way trip.

The Rollinson Channel is used by the charter and commercial fishing fleets and U.S. Coast Guard in Hatteras village to access Hatteras Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean.

Because of the longer crossing times, NCDOT will reduce the number of ferry departures. The new schedule, which started Dec. 7, is as follows:

From Hatteras: 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight.

From Ocracoke: 4 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said dredging will go forward for seven days, weather permitting. When the Army Corps leaves the channel, the Ferry Division will revisit conditions in Barney Slough to determine whether it can safely resume operations there, says the media release.

Travelers seeking alternate routes to and from Ocracoke Island can use the Cedar Island or Swan Quarter routes, which both operate three round trips daily and accept reservations.