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Low pressure system to bring high winds on Tuesday, possible ferry disruptions–updated


All ferries arriving and departing Ocracoke are currently suspended due to high winds, per NC Ferry Division, Nov. 8, 8:30 a.m.

Updated Nov. 7, 2022. 8 p.m.

Beginning tomorrow morning, the National Weather Service’s Newport/Morehead City Weather Forecast Office expects strong northeast to east winds to develop due to high pressure anchored over New England and Subtropical Storm Nicole which is forecast to impact the east coast of Florida before traveling up the southeast coast later this week.

Potential impacts from tomorrow through Wednesday include 25-35 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 50 mph, minor to moderate flooding along all ocean-side Seashore beaches and significant beach erosion.

Ferry service could be disrupted due to the high winds and the NC Ferry Division gave a heads-up that routes could be temporarily suspended later this week, due to the Subtropical Storm Nicole forecast to impact North Carolina from Thursday into Saturday. Updates on suspensions and schedule changes can be found on Twitter :@NCDOT_Ferry and its Facebook page.

Travel along N.C. Highway 12 may be challenging due to ocean overwash and beach erosion. Additional impacts associated with Subtropical Storm Nicole will become clearer in the coming days as forecast confidence grows.

Visitors to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore should use caution this week on all ocean-side Seashore beaches.

Ocracoke events March 20 to 26

The Ocracoke School is promoting kindness and students created this Kindness Tree on view in the Ocracoke post office. Photo: C. Leinbach

Tuesday, March 21
Ocracoke Civic & Business Association meeting 6 p.m. Ocracoke Community Center.

Agenda items include:
Old business:

  1. OCBA reps to other meetings
  2. Contributor levels
  3. Website

New Business:

  1. Form a committee to work on priority pass issues with the Hatteras ferry
  2. Randal Mathews
  3. NPS report

Wednesday, March 22
The Hyde County Board of Commissioners will conduct the March Budget Retreat starting at 9 a.m. in the Hyde County Government Center, Multi-Use Room, Swan Quarter, and the Ocracoke Community Center. 

The agenda includes discussions and presentations by all Hyde County department heads and vital community partners. A Facebook Live video stream of the meeting will begin at  9 a.m. when items will be considered and will be available to watch on the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page. 

The purpose of the meeting is outlined in the agenda, click here to view.

Friday, March 24
Ocracoke Tourism Development Authority meets 9 a.m. Ocracoke Community Center.
Public viewing will be available via the Hyde County Facebook Live page.   
Note: Hard Copies are posted on the bulletin boards at the Ocracoke Post Office and Ocracoke Variety Store.
A Dropbox link to the packet contents can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/t/6nha3abRdyB5mHqO and includes the following:

  • March 24, 2023 BOD Meeting Agenda
  • February 24, 2023, BOD Draft Meeting minutes
  • FY 2023/2024 OTTDA Draft Budget
  • Ocracoke Safety Flyer (Revised)
  • VisitOcracokeNC.com SEO Report –FEB 1, 2023 – FEB 28, 2023
  • Executive Director Report – March 2023

N.C. Shell Club meets at Community Center, 6:30 p.m.
All are welcome. See story here.

Saturday, March 25
N.C. Shell Club meets at Community Center, 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.

N.C. Shell Club spring meeting March 24 & 25 open to all

The N.C. Shell Club will meet Friday and Saturday evenings, March 24 & 25, in the Ocracoke Community Center. Photo: C. Leinbach

The N.C. Shell Club will hold its spring meeting Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25, on Ocracoke.

Evening meetings are held in the Community Center and are open to all.

Activities include a field trip to Portsmouth Island, a Celebration of Life for long-time club leader Everett Long, and silent and oral auctions composed of shells from Long’s

The following is the schedule of events:

Friday night March 24:
6:30 p.m. Registration, social, silent auction

7 p.m.  Greetings, introductions, announcements, door prizes

7:15 p.m. Stories about Everett Long

8 p.m.  Old business and new business

8:30 p.m.  Field trip announcements and waiver completion

8:40 p.m.  Silent Auction: Everett Long Memorial Auction

9 p.m.  Auction Ends. check out; clean up.

Saturday shelling trip to Portsmouth Island. Cost $20 per person. Boat departure time from the Park Service dock next to the ferry landing will be announced at the Friday meeting. Do not have to sign up; first-come, first-served. Will collect fees at the dock when loading.

Saturday night March 25:
6:30 p.m.  Registration, social, find of the day setup.

7 p.m.  Greetings, introductions

7:05 p.m.  Oral Auction: Treasures of the Long Collection

8:15 p.m.  Find of the Day Announcement

9:15 p.m.  Auction ends, check out; clean up.

To learn more about the NC Shell Club’s visits to Ocracoke and Portsmouth islands:

N.C. Shell Club member finds record-breaking scotch bonnet

NC Shell Club members seek the extraordinary on Ocracoke

Shell club member discovers ‘super find’ on Portsmouth

The road to Devil Shoals is paved with…

Blood drive to return at end of March


The Ocracoke School Beta Club and the American Red Cross will host a blood drive Wednesday and Thursday, March 29 and 30 in the Ocracoke Community Center.

The drive on Thursday will be from noon to 6 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To schedule an appointment, go online to http://www.redcrossblood.org and type in Ocracoke or the zip code 27960 to find this blood drive, or text BLOODAPP to 90999. You may also call the Red Cross rep Bryson Schmidt at 252-343-7297.

Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are recommended.

The need for blood is constant and only volunteer donors can fulfill that need for patients in our community, according to Red Cross information.  

Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every two to three seconds and most of us will need blood in our lifetime.

The Red Cross Blood Donor App can also be download from Google Play or the App Store.

Various Marine Fisheries rules now in effect


MOREHEAD CITY – As of Wednesday (March 15), 69 Marine Fisheries Commission rules went into effect, including rules pertaining to marking requirements for commercial pots and trotlines; license and permit suspensions and revocations; shellfish and crustacea management and processing; recordkeeping requirements and tournament licenses; and importation permits. The rules were amended and/or readopted under a state mandated periodic review schedule.

Marking commercial pots and trotlines – A change to marking requirements for the commercial use of pots (15A NCAC 03J .0301) and commercial trotlines (15A NCAC 03J .0305) will require the gear owner’s last name and initials be identified on each buoy as a baseline. Previously, it was not specified how the owner was to be identified unless a vessel was used, and the markings were only required for trotlines when used for recreational purposes.
License and permit suspensions and revocations:

  • Changes to 15A NCAC 03P .0101 provide the ability for a statement about license suspension and revocation to be sent to the Division of Marine Fisheries by electronic mail, not just via U.S. mail. Subsequent changes shorten the time period from 15 days to 10 days to reflect the flexibility electronic mail provides and to ensure timely protection of the resources under the authority of the Marine Fisheries Commission. For the protection of endangered or threatened species or a species managed by a quota, the time period is further shortened to five days, consistent with the severity of a possible violation leading to permit or license suspension or revocation.
  • Changes to 15A NCAC 03O .0111 address the rare situation if the Division of Marine Fisheries issues a license in error. Proposed changes establish the authority in rule for such a license to be required to be surrendered immediately upon service by an agent of the Fisheries Director to the stakeholder to surrender the license. Existing rule 15A NCAC 03O .0110 addresses refund of any license fees in such an instance.

Shellfish and Crustacea – Changes to shellfish management areas and for protection of public health:

  • Define Shellfish Management Areas, Seed Oyster Management Areas, and Oyster Sanctuaries, to assist stakeholders and Division of Marine Fisheries resource managers in differentiating between management tools and understanding the intended management strategies for each.
  • Broaden the Fisheries Director’s proclamation authority to address variable conditions for the management of the different types of shellfish management areas:
    • Changes to 15A NCAC 03K .0103 and .0209 allow the Fisheries Director to designate or modify boundaries of Shellfish Management Areas and Oyster Sanctuaries to address variable conditions of biological impacts or variable spatial distribution, such as shifting reef materials, and to specify marking requirements. Additional changes allow the Fisheries Director to restrict the use of fishing gears on Oyster Sanctuaries.
    • Changes to 15A NCAC 03K .0208 allow the Fisheries Director to modify or close Seed Oyster Management Areas for the protection of public health or because the areas are no longer productive.
  • Make it unlawful to engage in shellfish and crustacea processing without the required permits and shellfish tags.

Recordkeeping requirements and tournament licenses – Changes to 15A NCAC 03O .0101 and .0102 and to 15A NCAC 03I .0114 remove the time requirement for obtaining a tournament license and broaden the types of record keeping permissible for inspection by Marine Patrol at fish dealer locations by including electronic trip tickets.

Importation permits – Changes to 15A NCAC 03I .0104 require the sizes and quantities of species to be included in the disease-free certificate for a “Permit to Introduce, Transfer, or Hold Imported Marine and Estuarine Organisms”, not just the type of species. These changes help provide better protection of the resources.

Other rule changes are minor in that they codify regulations already in effect by proclamation or law, or correct grammar and punctuation, update agency names and make other minor technical changes.
Read the text of the rules in the March 15, 2023, Supplement to North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rules April 1, 2020, at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/marine-fisheries/rules-proclamations-and-size-and-bag-limits/rules.

Fiber optic cable damage causes cell phone, internet outage on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands

Hyde County EMS is located above Blue Heron Realty on Irvin Garrish Highway, across from the Variety Store. Photo: C. Leinbach

Observer staff report

Cell phone and internet services on Ocracoke were down on Tuesday (March 14) from around 9:30 a.m. until around 2 p.m. after a fiber optic cable was damaged up the beach in Dare County.

The exact location of the cable cut was not released, but one source indicated it happened on Pea Island where crews from NCDOT have been shoring up dunes to protect N.C. 12 from high surf the last several days, according to a report by WOBX.

The cut also affected Hatteras Island.

Crews from Brightspeed, formerly known as CenturyLink, were dispatched to repair the fiber optic cable.

The satellite-based service, Starlink, was not affected.

Ernie Doshier, Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department assistant fire chief, said Wednesday that land phone lines and radios were not affected since they’re not internet based.

Hyde County Emergency Management Director Joey Williams said Wednesday that he did not know of any 911 calls during the time the cable was down.

When these outages occur, people may go to the EMS station if they have an emergency, he said. Currently, the EMS station is above Blue Heron Realty, across from the Variety Store.

He also said he ordered Hyde County Sheriff deputies to drive around the village more.

Hyde and Dare counties are working on a grant to get a continuous loop reconnected with the cables on Cedar Island, he said. Now, service comes down through Hatteras and goes across the Hatteras Inlet to feed Ocracoke.

“We’re trying to get it so there’s another fiber optic cable that comes from Cedar Island,” he said. “That way if there’s a cut up the beach we would still have service from Cedar Island.”

The State Emergency Management office knows about Tuesday’s situation, he said.

“They’re trying to push it through in the legislature and I do know that it’s on the governor’s radar,” Williams said. “So, hopefully, he can push it and we can get that grant. It’s a priority but it takes time.”

Last year two similar outages, in March and May, occurred due to digging accidents.

Wireless service from Tekniam, based in Lenexa, Kansas, is now in a trial stage in a small area of Ocracoke village.  If the first-phase trials are successful, Tekniam will be available in selected areas so that if fiber cables are accidentally severed, the island isn’t entirely without communication.

Ocracoke events March 13 to 19

StoryWalk on Robbies Way, along Silver Lake Drive, features a new book, “An Island in the Sun.” There’s no parking available at the narrow walk that’s open to the public. Photo: C. Leinbach

Tuesday, March 14
Ocracoke Preservation Society spring membership meeting. 7 p.m. Ocracoke Community Center.

Wednesday, March 15
Ocracoke Waterways Commission meeting to address general updates regarding dredging from waterways partners and discuss the use of the “Miss Katie” dredge in Hyde County, as well as any other updates since the last meeting. 6:30 p.m. Ocracoke Community Center.

Friday, March 17
Ocracoke Tourism Development meeting. 9 a.m. Ocracoke Community Center.

Saturday, March 18
Ocracoke Preservation Society “Ocracoke Through Your Eyes” fundraising art auction, 7 p.m. Ocracoke Community Center.

NPS to celebrate Ocracoke light station 200th anniversary

The Ocracoke Light Station. Photo: C. Leinbach

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Ocracoke Light Station this year with a series of events this year starting with a kickoff event from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 18.

The event will feature several speeches, activities, a birthday cake and more. Outer Banks Forever, the Seashore’s official philanthropic partner, plans to livestream the event for those who cannot attend.

Educational Programs
Educational programs will be conducted from May to September at the Ocracoke Light Station and on social media. Once program details are finalized, they will be added to the Seashore’s special Ocracoke Light Station 200th anniversary webpage at http://go.nps.gov/ocracoke.

Text Alerts
A new text alert service has been created for the 200th anniversary of the Ocracoke Light Station. To receive text alerts about the special event and educational programs,text Ocracoke to 333111.

The Ocracoke Light Station’s 200th anniversary planning committee includes Seashore staff, Outer Banks ForeverHyde CountyOcracoke Preservation SocietyOcracoke Township Tourism Development AuthorityOuter Banks Lighthouse Society and members of the local community.

“Ocracoke is lucky to be able to celebrate the entirety of the light station, rather than just the lighthouse as is the case at Hatteras and Bodie where everything was built at different times,” said Scott Babinowich, chief of interpretation, education and visitor services for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, who is chairing the events.

“Very unique.”

The Park Service received a $2 million appropriation to renovate the Ocracoke Light Station complex because these structures were damaged from recent storms and if left as they are it is expected they will be damaged further by future storms, climate change and sea level rise.

The NPS hopes to hire a design contractor in September and, if all goes well, to award a construction contract by the end of this year.

In 1822, the federal government purchased two acres at the south end of Ocracoke Island for $50 as the site for a new lighthouse and support structures.

Constructed by Massachusetts builder Noah Porter, the 75-foot-tall Ocracoke Lighthouse and surrounding buildings were completed in 1823.

The Seashore protects and preserves the lighthouse, Double Keepers’ Quarters, oil house and the other support structures that make up the 200-year-old Ocracoke Light Station. The light continues to serve as an active aid-to-navigation thanks to support from the United States Coast Guard.

Ocracoke nature: Avian Triptych


Vultures and gulls are scavengers and have a role in removing carrion from the ecosystem. 

A Turkey Vulture is eating what appears to be a dead Herring Gull on the Ocracoke beach.

Photo: P. Vankevich

An immature Great Black-backed Gull watches and waits patiently.

Photo: P. Vankevich

When the vulture flew off, the gull took over.

Photographed Feb. 19 by Peter Vankevich.

NC Catch Summit aims to bust seafood myths

Down East commercial fisherman and NC Catch board member Mark Hooper shows off sunray venus
clams he harvests in Carteret County. During the NC Catch Summit 2023, Hooper will lead Fish Tales,
storytelling moments featuring commercial fishers sprinkled throughout the summit. Photo by NC Catch

Premier panels, insightful guest speakers and unmatched opportunities demonstrating how to advocate for local seafood are on the agenda at the NC Catch Summit 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, March 20, at Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café in Nags Head.

The nonprofit NC Catch is the state’s leading cooperative for local seafood, and the summit will feature keynote speakers David Senter, the seminal farmers rights advocate whose movement inspired Farm Aid, and N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries director Kathy Rawls.

They will share how both consumers and commercial fishers can get their concerns heard by regulators and the public, building unrelenting support for a seafood industry that feeds North Carolina and is a cornerstone of the state’s multimillion-dollar tourist industry.

Misinformation about commercial fishing in North Carolina keeps growing, and confusion persists over whether seafood is sustainably harvested, according to press materials about the summit. 

Panels will dig deep into major myths, real seafood trends and innovative efforts of young people entering all aspects of the state’s seafood industry.

This day of education and real-life stories of commercial fishing families will teach attendees, both consumers and those in the commercial fishing industry, how to stand up for local seafood.

The NC Catch Summit culminates in a delicious evening at the Outer Banks Seafood Feast. Guests will savor a selection of dishes passed down through generations of fishing families. 

The menu includes stewed crab, steamed shrimp, homemade desserts and more.

All proceeds benefit NC Catch, a volunteer organization of commercial fishers, scientists, seafood market owners and others in the seafood industry working to ensure everyone has access to safe, reliable and sustainable North Carolina seafood.

Lunch is not included but may be added during registration.

Register for the NC Catch Summit athttps://NCCatchSummit2023.eventbrite.com.

The Outer Banks Seafood Feast costs $75 per person.

Get Outer Banks Seafood Feast tickets athttps://NCCatchOuterBanksSeafoodFeast.eventbrite.com

Learn more at nccatch.org

The agenda is below:

Ocracoke Preservation Society to hold art auction March 18


The Ocracoke Preservation Society (OPS) will hold its annual art auction at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 18, in the Ocracoke Community Center.

The event features submissions from amateur artists from Ocracoke and across the country and is one of the organization’s top fundraisers.

The theme is “Ocracoke Through Your Eyes,” urging artists to interpret their memories, experiences and connections to the island through artistic media.

Online bidding will begin March 5, and entries will be accepted until March 17. The winning bids will be live streamed on OPS’ Facebook page.

“The art auction is always a big draw for locals and visitors alike and raises much-needed funds for our mission,” said OPS Administrator Andrea Powers. “Each piece is inspired by deeply personal memories and experiences here on Ocracoke, from nature to nostalgia. The island means something different to everyone.” 

OPS provides mini canvases for interested artists at every level and encourages a broad range of submissions, not limited to paintings.

For more information about the event and obtaining a canvas, contact OPS at 252-928-7375 or info@ocracokepreservation.org.

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