News Releases

5/12/2015: NC Ferry System Seeks Hatteras 'Early Birds' After Switch To Summer Schedule

NC Ferry System Seeks Hatteras 'Early Birds' After Switch To Summer Schedule

Posted 5/12/2015 3:55:21 PM

(Hatteras) - The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry System switched to its full summer schedule of 36 daily round-trip departures between Hatteras and Ocracoke Tuesday, calling on summer day trippers to strongly consider going as early in the day as possible to avoid wait times in the peak season. "We've always suggested visitors try to avoid the peak times of the day when traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke," said Ferry Division Communications Officer Tim Hass. "This year, we're coming right out and saying it: The best way to get out of ferry lines is to travel early, travel late, or travel between Friday and Monday. We have years of data to back that up." That data shows that in general, there are no waits at Hatteras before 9 a.m., with lines starting to form around 10. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. is the peak travel time, with lines generally dissipating by 4 p.m. On the Ocracoke side, there is usually no waiting before 2 p.m. Cars begin to stack up by 3 p.m. and lines are the longest between 6-7. By 9 p.m., those lines are usually gone. "People still want to go to Ocracoke, and they should go to Ocracoke," said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "By adjusting their schedule just a little, they can spend less time in a ferry line and more time on Ocracoke. And that's what vacation should be about." The Ferry System has created a web page at www.ncferry.org/earlybird with more information and will be encouraging off-peak travel all summer via advertising and social media.(NCDOT)
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5/4/2015: Faced With A Shifting Shoreline, North Carolina's Ferry System Charts A New Course

Faced With A Shifting Shoreline, North Carolina's Ferry System Charts A New Course

Posted 5/4/2015 3:56:08 PM

Hatteras-The people who live on the Outer Banks don't need anyone to tell them Hatteras Inlet's width is growing. Old timers here will tell you the distance between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands used to be the length of a good tee shot. Now, the inlet separating the two coastal enclaves is nearly two miles wide. Hurricane Isabel seemed to kickstart the process in 2003. Hurricane Irene in 2011 made it worse. For the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry System, the widening inlet created shoaling that clogged the channel its car ferries traditionally used to carry hundreds of thousands people and vehicles between the two islands every year. Despite repeated attempts by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the channel open, its dredging efforts weren't enough. In December 2013, the Ferry Division determined the route was no longer safe, and switched to a longer, more stable route that extended further into Pamlico Sound. Despite its safety and stability, the new route led to new problems. Significantly higher fuel costs. Fewer scheduled departures in the busy summer season. Longer lines. Frustrated residents and visitors. "Right now, we have a major congestion problem at Hatteras," says North Carolina Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "Day trippers are turning around rather than waiting for hours to board a ferry. Because of that, fewer people are visiting Ocracoke. We have to do something." That "something" could come in the form of the M/V Provincetown III, which arrived on the Outer Banks May 1 and was opened to the public for tours May 4-5. The ship, a 149-passenger catamaran-type ferry, is making several test runs between the islands, in what could be a prelude to supplementing the current fleet of car ferries with passenger-only ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke's Silver Lake Harbor, right in the heart of Ocracoke Village. "The idea is that passengers would be taken straight into the village, where they wouldn't necessarily need their cars," says Ferry Division Assistant Director Jed Dixon. "If we could bring more people to Ocracoke in fewer vehicles, it would be a win-win for the Ferry System and for the people and businesses of Ocracoke." The visit from the Provincetown III, which is on the way from its winter home in the Caribbean to its summer job ferrying passengers between Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts, is part of a feasibility study on passenger ferry service and other alternatives to alleviate the Hatteras congestion. The North Carolina Department of Transportation contracted with transportation consulting firm Volkert to conduct the study, which is set to be completed by the end of 2015. "We'll be asking all the tough questions," says Will Letchworth, a transportation engineer and Volkert's project manager. "Will day trippers be willing to part with their cars? Where can they park in Hatteras? How many passenger ferries would we need and what size should they be? Would there need to be transit options in Ocracoke? What kind of docks would need to be built? Would continuous dredging in Hatteras Inlet be feasible? There are a lot of differing opinions out there, and we will be listening to all of them." One thing everyone agrees on is that something needs to be done soon. Visitation to Ocracoke, accessible only by boat or private plane, dropped by 20 percent after the ferries started using the longer route. "Ocracoke's economy can't take any more hits," says Hyde County Manager Bill Rich. "Tourists are the lifeblood of this island, and ferries are the only way we have to get them here. One way or another, we need to get our visitors back." For now, the Ferry Division is strongly encouraging this summer's travelers to take their Ocracoke trips in off-peak hours, hoping to move the needle enough to alleviate the longest wait times. But everyone knows it's only a temporary fix. ***NCDOT***
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3/30/2015: NC Ferry Crew Rescues Boater Stranded On Neuse River

NC Ferry Crew Rescues Boater Stranded On Neuse River

Posted 3/30/2015 4:29:27 PM

(HAVELOCK, NC) - The crew of the NCDOT Ferry Divison's M/V Thomas A. Baum added some rescue duty to its 2 p.m. run between Cherry Branch and Minnesott Beach Sunday, coming to the aid of a New Bern man whose sailboat had overturned in the Neuse River. The crew of the Baum overheard a radio call from the boater to the U.S. Coast Guard station at Fort Macon requesting immediate assistance. From the bridge of the Baum, Captain Wendell Hunnings and Mate Hal Gray were able to see the upturned hull of the sailboat approximately a half-mile away. After the captain turned the Baum toward the disabled boat, crew members Jeremy Dixon and Shawn Lewis launched the ferry's small rescue boat and sped toward the scene. Upon arriving, Dixon and Lewis pulled the boater, Daniel Roe of New Bern, North Carolina into the rescue boat, then attached a line onto the rigging of the sailboat and righted it. After determining that Roe was uninjured, they allowed him to climb back on board his boat. "I'm very grateful to the crew of the ferry," said Roe. "They really got me out of an extremely tough predicament." After the rescue boat returned to the M/V Baum, the ferry completed its scheduled run to Minnesott Beach. (NCDOT)
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11/18/2014: NC Ferry Crew Receives Governor's Award For Excellence In Safety And Heroism

NC Ferry Crew Receives Governor's Award For Excellence In Safety And Heroism

Posted 11/18/2014 9:36:46 AM

(RALEIGH) - A North Carolina ferry crew was honored on Tuesday, Nov. 18, with the Governor's Award for Excellence in Safety and Heroism for the September 2013 rescue of two people in rough seas off of Ocracoke Island. The crew received the award in an afternoon ceremony at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The rescue occurred on the evening of September 26, 2013 when John and Renee Hoffman of Black Mountain, NC were sailing in the waters of Big Foot Slough. Suddenly, deteriorating weather conditions caused their sailboat to capsize. "It all happened so fast", said John Hoffman. "The boat flipped and we were thrown into the water." Fortunately, the M/V Cedar Island was nearby, having just departed Ocracoke on its 8 p.m. run across Pamlico Sound. Captain Steven Goodwin maneuvered the Cedar Island into position and launched the ferry's 16-foot rescue boat, which crew members Glenn Salter and Daniel Smith piloted through 4-5 foot seas and 30 knot winds in the dark. Salter and Smith were able to pull the Hoffmans out of the water, and the rest of the crew brought them all back onto the ferry, where passengers already onboard the Cedar Island erupted into cheers. "We could not be more proud of this ferry crew," said North Carolina Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "Our crews are well trained to respond to emergency situations on the open water, and in this case that training and this crew's bravery saved two lives. These people deserve every bit of recognition they're getting today." Receiving the award are: Captain Steven Goodwin; Chief Engineer Gerry Gilliken; Oiler David Paul Styron; Crew Members Glenn Salter, Daniel Smith, and Randy Willis; and Mate Paul Morris.***NCDOT***
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[The crew of the M/V Cedar Island: From left to right: Ferry Crew Member Glenn Salter, Ferry Crew Member Daniel Smith, Oiler David Paul Styron, Ferry Crew Member Randy Willis, Captain Steven Goodwin, Chief Engineer Gerry Gilliken, Mate Paul Morris.] 
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6/9/2013: Two Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry Trips Canceled due to Mechanical Issues with MV Cedar Island

Two Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry Trips Canceled due to Mechanical Issues with MV Cedar Island

Posted 6/9/2013 8:59:55 AM

  MANNS HARBOR – The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division has canceled two Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry routes this afternoon due to mechanical issues with the MV Cedar Island. The 1 p.m. Ocracoke-to-Cedar Island and 4 p.m. Cedar Island-to-Ocracoke trips will not take place because there is not a ferry available. Travelers are encouraged to call the ferry terminal directly with questions about specific ferry routes or schedules.  Travelers can also call 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and Press 1 for up-to-date ferry information, or sign up to receive Tweets on their personal cell phones by going to www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry.   ***NCDOT***
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