Coast Guard and others come to the rescue
of Ocracokers struggling with ferry woes
By CONNIE LEINBACH
U.S. Coast Guard has come to the rescue of Ocracokers desperately in
need of medications from a pharmacy in Hatteras while the ferry between
the two islands is shut down by shoaling in the channel.
Wright, officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, said
that as of today the Coast Guard will transport medications from Beach
Pharmacy to the north end ferry dock where someone from the Ocracoke
Health Center will pick them up.
“As long as the weather holds
out, we’ll be making a daily run at 1 p.m.,” Wright said, adding that
he spoke with Steve Evans, owner of Beach Pharmacy on Tuesday. “We ran
it up the chain (of command) quickly and, yes, we can help.”
also said he will reach out to both Dare and Hyde County Emergency
Management so that these groups know the Coast Guard is there to help
if they can.
Evans explained that he had made a few runs himself
to deliver medications to the island, the most recent one being on
Tuesday when he recruited his friend Marshall Foster, who also works
for the North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division, to
take him to the Ocracoke ferry dock in one of Foster’s dad’s
boats. Dwight Burrus of Hatteras village, who has a private
plane, also has been pressed into service.
“We’ll get the medications to Ocracoke any way we can,” Evans said.
a four-person Coast Guard crew traversed the channel in 15 minutes to
hand off medications to Ocracoke Health Center manager Jamie Tunnell
Carter, who gave them a container for the courier on the Hatteras side.
Ferry Division suspended the ferry between the islands Jan. 18 after
high winds the night before caused the ferry channel at markers No. 9
and No.10 to shoal over and become impassable for the ferries, which
draft about four feet in the water. Boats with
of one or two feet, such as ones Foster and the Coast Guard can use,
have been able to get through the channel to Ocracoke.
The ferry Division added runs between both Cedar Island and Swan
Quarter and exempted residents and vendors from the tolls.
County commissioner Allen Burrus of Hatteras village said Tuesday night
in the board’s regular meeting that the Army Corps of Engineers has
identified another route farther into the sound that the ferries
possibly could use while the regular channel is being
Corps is surveying that area, said Jed Dixon, deputy director of the
Ferry Division, on Tuesday, but it may not be a feasible route as it
depends on several factors--particularly a viable depth. Then
Coast Guard has to certify a new channel and set channel markers, all
of which could take days to complete.
“My position is that this is all speculation,” Dixon said. “At this
point, I don’t know the likelihood of this happening.”
the pipeline dredge Richmond is pretty much on schedule and has worked
through two of the “hot spots,” said Roger Bullock, chief of navigation
for the Army Corps. It is heading toward the next hot spots in the
The dredge is about 65 percent through its
contracted area, Dixon said. After the dredge finishes at the
final hot spots at markers No. 9 and No.10, it will move back into the
Rollinson Channel area.
As for the suspended ferries, Dixon said they are assessing the channel
“A big portion of the channel is filled in below four feet,” he said.
“We can’t operate in that depth.”
the Hatteras ferry lane opens up, Ocracokers are finding other ways to
get their business and personal needs met, such as veterinary services.
Island Animal Clinic in Manteo has a standing
third-Wednesday-of-the-month clinic on Ocracoke but hasn’t been to the
island since November. The clinic hopes to get to the island
Reggie Mosser, a New Mexico resident who with her
husband, George Brown, resides in Ocracoke for the winter, had to find
a veterinarian Monday in Morehead City to get annual shots for her dog.
Others with doctors’ appointments are similarly scrambling.
son has some dentist appointments with Dr. Slagle in Frisco,” said
Merle Davis. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to get to them.”
a hardship beyond belief,” said Gail Hamilton, a village resident,
about having to use only the Swan Quarter ferry. “My mother was born
here, and I’ve never known them to shut down for more than a day or
Other residents have had to stay overnight in Dare County to keep
DeBarth, a physician’s assistant who works weekends at Urgent Care in
Nags Head, said having to take the Swan Quarter ferry has added several
extra hours to his commute each way, sometimes forcing him to stay
overnight either before or after his gig. Juggling his drive
has been tricky since October as he couldn’t catch the Hatteras ferry
at low tide then encountered difficulties at Highway 12 in northern
Rodanthe at high tide.
“But it’s great that they put the extra two boats on at Swan Quarter,”
Brian Samick, a local carpenter, noted that the building supply trucks
Death, manager of the Beachcomber Campground and Gas Station, said the
Sysco (food) truck has gotten here, and he has given the drivers
“Tommy’s (Hutcherson at the Variety Store) put some up overnight,”
Brooks, postmaster at Ocracoke, said the only time the mail hasn’t
gotten here was two days last week and that she asked the ferry to
modify its schedule to accommodate the post office’s turn-around.
the Ferry Division did just that and announced adjustments in the Swan
Quarter and Cedar Island ferry schedules to adjust for vendors, such as
the mail truck, for adequate turn-around times.
The adjusted departures will be:
the 7 a.m. departure to 6:30 a.m. and the 12:30 p.m. departure to 1
p.m. from Ocracoke; and
the 10 a.m. departure from Swan Quarter to 9:30 a.m.
The adjusted schedule will be:
addition, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles has announced that after
trying every way possible to get its mobile unit to Ocracoke that it
will be unable to make its Friday, Jan. 25, stop in Ocracoke. According
to a press release, the mobile unit has a strict schedule of stops
along the coast and will not be able to cross Hatteras Inlet due to the
suspended ferry operations.
from Swan Quarter at 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 and 10; and
from Ocracoke at 6:30 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 7.
NCDMV routinely sends a mobile
DMV unit via ferry to the Dare County Civic Center on Highway 12
quarterly. The next mobile unit visit to Ocracoke is scheduled for
April. However, the mobile unit will be visiting Swan Quarter at the
Hyde County government lot, 11 Main St., on Feb. 14, March 14 and April
ferry operations suspended after vessel runs aground
continues to shut down Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry
struggle to cope with sporadic ferry service at Hatteras Inlet