For visitors, this tacks on three or four hours—sometimes many more—to
an already time-consuming trip, and for residents, it made off-island
travel for doctor appointments, work, school, or other errands
But on Nov. 10, two-wheel drivers caught a break.
Jarvis Williams, who owns Cape Point Exxon in Buxton and who was
contracted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to remove
any vehicles that got stuck on the newly opened four-wheel-drive only
access route, got the idea to start trailering two-wheel-drive cars and
trucks across the sand road.
It's a simple
idea, really, and not surprisingly, it has been quite well received.
When you're in a hurry, a 15-minute ride over land beats a three-hour
trip across the sound, and an on-demand sand taxi beats an hours-long
ferry line any day of the week—even if you have to pay for the
In fact, the service has been
so popular, that on a single day during the Thanksgiving holiday
weekend, Williams and his crew towed 86 cars across the quarter-mile
long sand road.
It wasn't long before that kind of demand necessitated an increase in supply.
Scott Caldwell, who owns Island Convenience in Rodanthe, started towing
cars over Thanksgiving weekend when he saw how many people wanted—and
needed—to use the service.
"There were cars lined up from Hot
Tuna to the [emergency] ferry dock," he said, all of which were waiting
to be towed across the sand.
Eric Stump, who owns Island Cruisers, a four-by-four rentals operation
in Rodanthe, also got in on the action, spurred on by phone calls from
people who wanted to rent his four-wheel drive vehicles in order to
cross the sand road.
All three have
reputable, established, and fully-insured towing businesses that have
long operated on the island. And though traffic has decreased
considerably since the holiday weekend, Williams, Caldwell, and Stump
are still plenty busy.
And since Highway 12 will not be repaired until at least Christmas, it seems likely that they will remain so.
All three charge $25 per trip, and all three operate seven days a week,
from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. --the only times during which the sand road
In addition, all three offer both on-demand and reservation-style services.
So, you can give one of them a call when you're ready to cross the
road, or, if you know in advance when you'll need to cross, you can
arrange for someone to meet you on a specific date at a specific time.
All southbound travelers will be picked up at the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service parking lot, which is just south of the checkpoint and
the temporary bridge over Pea Island Inlet.
Northbound travelers will be picked up at different places depending on which company is providing the service.
Caldwell will meet customers at Island Convenience, and Stump will pick
up his customers at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building.
Williams will meet his customers near the Midgett Realty building in
Rodanthe, just south of the checkpoint station.
Caldwell can be reached at either 252- 216-5733 or 252- 987-2239. Stump
can be reached at 252-987-2097 or 252-202-8399. Williams can be reached