The ferry dock at the north end of Ocracoke. Photo: P. Vankevich

From Hyde County, 3 p.m. Aug. 4, 2020. Updated at 9:15 p.m. with the addition of Pamlico Sound routes

The Hyde County Board of Commissioners has lifted the evacuation order from Tropical Storm Isaias for Ocracoke residents, property owners and vendors effective immediately, but service is available only via Hatteras at the moment.

The first run from Hatteras departed at 3 p.m. today and other departures from Hatteras will be at 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight. Departures today from Ocracoke will be at 4:30 p.m., 7:30 and 10:30.

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, the temporary schedule will be as follows:

  • From Hatteras: 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight
  • From Ocracoke: 4:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

The route will return to its full published schedule on Thursday, Aug. 6 with the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry also returning to service that day pending channel assessment.

Visitors will be allowed back on the island starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday. Service with one boat, the M/V Carteret, on the Pamlico Sound will be as follows on Wednesday:

Ocracoke to Cedar Island 7:30 a.m.; Cedar Island to Ocracoke 10:30 a.m.

Ocracoke to Swan Quarter: 1:30 p.m.; Swan Quarter to Ocracoke: 4:30 p.m.

The Ferry Division said it will continue to work on getting the Big Foot Slough channel dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so that they can run the Sea Level and the Swan Quarter.

In order to safely run additional ferries, water levels in the channel must be at least nine feet deep. Currently, depths in some areas are less than eight feet. Big Foot Slough is a federal channel maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Following the passage of Tropical Storm Isaias, the Ferry Division had to assess the long routes and receive Coast Guard approval.

Ocracoke’s county commissioner, Tom Pahl, said in an interview that the question about the long-route ferries is that the Big Foot Slough channel is in need of dredging and may have received more shoaling from the passing of Tropical Storm Isaias Monday night. Both ferry routes must go past this slough to get to their destinations.

Several days ago, the Ferry Division reduced the number of Pamlico Sound runs because the two larger ferries, the Sea Level and the Swan Quarter, cannot navigate the slough until it is dredged.

Pahl said the route past Big Foot Slough is being tested today and an announcement will be pending.

The ferry from Swan Quarter navigates the Big Foot Slough channel, which passes by Big Foot Island, a dredge spoil island that is a bird habitat. Ocracoke can be seen in the distance. Photo: C. Leinbach

According to a press release issued at 2:30 p.m. today, the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry schedule will be limited until additional vessels have returned from mooring in Mann’s Harbor. Travelers may experience delays accordingly.

NCDOT reported that Hwy 12 did not suffer any significant damage and is passable. 

The NCDOT Ferry Division’s Twitter Page, will have the latest route schedules and updates.

There are currently no obstructions on the major highways in Hyde County. However, if you are traveling from out of the area, check for road conditions between you and your destination.

The Ocracoke ponies munch happily today following the passage of Isaias. Photo: P. Vankevich

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