News Releases

8/25/2015: Ferry Division To Host Public Meetings On Passenger Ferry Study

Ferry Division To Host Public Meetings On Passenger Ferry Study

Posted 8/25/2015 1:35:29 PM

(MANNS HARBOR) - Midway through a study on the possibility of passenger-only ferry service directly between Hatteras and Ocracoke Village, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division will host two public meetings on the topic August 31 and September 1. The meetings will be an open forum, where members of the public can stop by at their convenience and offer questions and comments about the Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study and its findings to Ferry Division Officials and representatives from Volkert, the firm conducting the study. “We’ll be presenting the public with the study’s findings to this point,” said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. “We have several options for the number and types of boats we could start out with, as well as ideas on parking and dock improvements on both sides. We definitely want to get the public’s feedback before we proceed with a plan.” The scheduled meetings are: August 31, 5-7 p.m. at the Ocracoke Community Center, 999 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke. September 1, 5-7 p.m. at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, 59200 Museum Drive, Hatteras. The Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study began earlier this year and has included meetings with the public and local stakeholders, as well as a ferry passenger survey and test runs by the Provincetown III, a catamaran-style passenger ferry based out of Boston. The survey is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. (NCDOT)
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Caption: The Provincetown III visited Ocracoke May 4
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7/6/2015: NC Ferry Crew Rescues Neuse River Sailor In Distress

NC Ferry Crew Rescues Neuse River Sailor In Distress

Posted 7/6/2015 10:21:27 AM

Cherry Branch - As the crew of the North Carolina Ferry M/V Chicamacomico was loading cars for its last departure of the day from Minnesott Beach Saturday afternoon, security watch stander John Brann noticed something amiss on the Neuse River in Pamlico County. A sailboat had tipped and rolled over just outside of the ferry basin and was rapidly drifting into the river channel. Brann immediately informed crew members Paul Abare and Stevenson Lee Weeks, who notified Captain Wendell Hunnings of the boater in distress. Hunnings then ordered Abare and Weeks to launch the Chicamacomico's rescue boat. Upon reaching the boater, Abare and Weeks determined the sailor, Sean Pollin of Linden, Va., did not need medical assistance but did need help in righting his boat. Working together, Pollin, Abare and Weeks pulled the sailboat out of the current and into shallow water where Pollin was able to pull it ashore. Pollin said he had underestimated the winds on the Neuse and was overcome by them. The rescue was the third of boaters in distress by ferry crews in the past 22 months. On Sept. 26, 2013, the crew of the M/V Cedar Island rescued two sailors in rough seas just off of Ocracoke. On March 29, 2015, the crew of the M/V Thomas A. Baum came to the aid of a New Bern man whose sailboat had also overturned on the Neuse. "Once again, a ferry crew used its skill and training to help a boater in distress", said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "Safety has always been our top priority, and our crews are well prepared to deal with emergencies not only on our vessels but elsewhere in the water as well. We are proud of the service our crews provide to all the residents and visitors of eastern North Carolina." After the rescue boat and crew returned to the ferry, the Chicamacomico completed its scheduled run to Cherry Branch. ***NCDOT***
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A North Carolina ferry crew comes to the aid of a sailor whose boat overturned in the Neuse River on July 4, 2015.
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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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