North Carolina ferries traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke will begin using a different route on Dec. 7 that will add approximately 20 minutes to crossing times as 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 traditional ferry channel known as Barney Slough. The channel has become dangerously shallow, leading to several instances in which ferries bumped the bottom of the channel and needed costly repairs to fix damage to the vessels.
Instead, ferries will begin using the deeper and safer Rollinson Channel, which is 1.5 miles longer and will add roughly 20 minutes to each one-way trip.
Because of the longer crossing times, the number of ferry departures will be reduced. The schedule, beginning Dec. 7, will be 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.
“This is not something we take lightly,’ said Interim Ferry Division Director Jed Dixon. “But the safety of our passengers and crews is our top priority, and conditions in Barney Slough have deteriorated such that it is no longer possible to continue operating there.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said they will dredge 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.
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.