By Connie Leinbach
Gale force winds today and into Monday until 8 p.m. are expected to continue suspending ferry operations between Hatteras and Ocracoke.
A tweet on @NCFerryHatteras Twitter said ferry runs were suspended this morning (April 17) around 10 a.m. and another tweet a few hours later that the suspension was continuing. Sunday’s action followed a several-hour suspension of service on Saturday when a dredge, a tug and a ferry grounded on shoals in the inlet.
“We will resume operations as soon as we are able to make safe passage,” the two tweets said.
Officials do not know when they will resume since the winds are expected to get worse tomorrow, a Hatteras ferry worker reached on the phone said Sunday afternoon. “Shoaling from the winds also is a part of the equation, he said, adding that the parking lot is pretty well cleared out.
Travelers can get the latest information by calling the Hatteras Ferry terminal, 252-996-6000, or following Twitter.
The National Weather Service reports on its website that Ocracoke and Hatteras can expect winds of 25 to 35 knots through 8 p.m. Monday with gusts up to 40 knots in the Pamlico Sound, which is what the ferries use to get to Ocracoke from Hatteras, Swan Quarter and Cedar Island.
To pile on, Monday is expected to bring thunderstorms and rain with up to one to two inches possible with a high of 71 degrees.
Unlike Hatteras, a check with the Swan Quarter office said those ferries are running.
The ferry reservation website on Sunday afternoon showed that although the 10 a.m. departure from Swan Quarter on Monday is sold out, there were a few spaces available for the later ferries at 1 and 4:30 p.m., and all runs on Tuesday have spaces available.
Departures on Monday to Cedar Island also have some spaces available.
The Hatteras ferry suspension has wreaked havoc with vacationers on Ocracoke on a busy Easter weekend.
Maddie Whitehead, a vacation specialist with Ocracoke Island Realty, said she has been fielding calls today from renters.
“We’ve gotten very many calls and they’re not taking it well,” she said.
Customers expect her to know when the Hatteras ferry will resume, but that’s up to Mother Nature.
She said some renters have been able to get extensions on their rental if the house is open, and others are having to get hotel rooms on the island.
A spot check with two island hoteliers show that they have been getting renters who can’t get off the island.
Both Blackbeard’s Lodge and the Pony Island Motel have rooms available. A spokeswoman at Blackbeard’s said they are out of pet friendly rooms, but a spokeswoman at Pony Island said their rooms are pet-friendly with additional fees.