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Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry runs to increase March 21 to April 13

Photo by C. Leinbach

In preparation for holiday travel over the upcoming Easter and Spring breaks, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division will enhance the schedule on its Hatteras-Ocracoke route between March 31 and April 13.

The temporary Spring schedule will increase the number of daily round-trip runs between Hatteras and Ocracoke from 18 to 26, with half-hour departures for most of the morning and afternoon hours.

“Our ridership data shows a distinct spike in the weeks surrounding Easter,” said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. “We’re confident this enhanced schedule will accommodate those travelers.”

The Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule will be as follows between March 31 to April 13:

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

Departures from Ocracoke: 4:30 a.m., 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10, 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12:30 p.m., 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3:30, 4, 4:30, 5, 5:30, 6:30, 7, 7:30, 8, 9:30, 10:30, and 12:30 a.m.

After April 13, the Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule will return to its off-season schedule for three weeks before switching to a full summer schedule on May 6.

First Game at the Community Park


Take me out to the ball game 
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks
I don’t care if I never get back

Macky Kalna IMG_8381
Mac Kalna takes a swing.

The first official baseball game took place on Tuesday (March 24). The varsity Ocracoke Dolphins lost to the Cape Hatteras Hurricanes 14-6. It didn’t seem to matter to the approximately 300 fans that showed up and braved a cool, windy day to cheer on the Dolphins.

Brian Carter took these photos of the game, unless noted otherwise.


Spencer Gaskins, the Dolphins catcher and big hitter.
Spencer Gaskins, the Dolphins catcher and big hitter.


Carson O'Neal delivers.
Carson O’Neal delivers.
The bleachers filled to cheer on the Dolphins. Photo  by P. Vankevich
The bleachers filled to cheer on the Dolphins. Photo by P. Vankevich
Macky  Kalna with ball Carson O'Neal at backup
Macky Kalna with ball, Carson O’Neal at backup

Katharine, the great white shark, is back in the area

Katherine location
The orange dot illustrates Katherine’s at 10:09 a.m. Saturday.

By Stacey Sutton

Katharine, a 14-foot-2-inch great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), was tracked off the coast of the Ocracoke on Saturday.

She is one of the many apex predator sharks being tracked by OCEARCH, an organization that catches sharks all over the world in order to take various measurements and attach data recording devices to their fins before releasing them.

According to their website, www.ocreach.org, the organization collects “data on the movement, biology and health of sharks to protect their future while enhancing public safety and education.”

Katharine was tagged off the coast of Cape Cod, on August 20, 2013. Searching the name “Katharine” in the drop-down list titled ‘SHARKS’ will provide the viewer with a single dot on the detailed world map.

One can also look at the path each shark has taken over a varying length of time. Selecting the option of “PAST YEAR” will show Katharine’s path into Pamlico Sound and her perusal of Swan Quarter on Jan. 10. 

Information can be gained by clicking on each dot, which represents the location of the shark’s latest ping from their Smart Position and Temperature (SPOT) tag.  A ping is determined when the tagged shark’s dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water and transmits a signal to a satellite overhead.

Katharine’s dot is orange which indicates that her tag transmitted a signal within the past 30 days. Blue dots represent tag transmissions older than 30 days.  An informational bubble will appear by clicking on one of the dots that states the shark’s name, date of tagging, gender and general age range. More information, often with more photos, will appear by clicking the ‘View More’ button located inside the pop-up bubble.

According to the website, “Smart Position and Temperature (SPOT) tags are the only devices capable of real-time tracking of fine and broad scale movements. The data can be collected from anywhere in the world where the transmitter breaks the surface long enough to lock in with satellites. SPOT tag data enables the identification of critical areas for highly migratory species such as white sharks including feeding, breeding and nursery areas, migratory pathways and coastal areas where human/shark interaction is possible.”

Research expeditions are conducted worldwide aboard the M/V OCEARCH, which serves as both a mother-ship and at-sea laboratory. Utilizing a custom 75,000-pound capacity hydraulic platform designed to safely lift mature sharks for access by a multi-disciplined research team, up to 12 studies are conducted in approximately 15 minutes on a live mature shark.

The following photos are from the OCREACH website:

ocearch techs
Every female undergoes an ultrasound. The special goggles allow the technician to see inside the shark even on the brightest days. The blood taken will be analyzed for reproductive and stress hormone levels as well as contaminants.
Sharks are hooked using a long-line and then pulled into position over the platform.
Sharks are hooked using a long-line and then pulled into position over the platform.
Team members try to keep the sharks as calm as possible by placing wet black towels over their eyes.

katherine week of 031515 with info

Hatteras ferry on abbreviate schedule today

Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry schedule March 22. Photo by P. Vankevich


The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry is only running the following ferries for the rest of today (March 22):

4:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

According to Timothy Hass, NC DOT Ferry Division spokesman, the reason for the abbreviated schedule is because a ferry had to be taken from the Hatteras fleet to substitute for another ferry having mechanical problems.

“The replacement boat for the one we sent to Currituck arrived Friday night,” he said in an email, “but on Saturday, the Croatoan developed a mechanical issue and had to be taken off the run.

“We sent a crew to get a boat from the Pamlico River route this afternoon, and they should be back by tonight.

“So Hatteras should be back on its normal winter schedule by tomorrow morning, if not sooner.”

Since December, Hatteras is on a winter, three-boat schedule until March 31.

After that, it will go to an expanded Easter schedule for two weeks, then back to a winter schedule until May 6, at which point the full summer schedule begins.

“All of that is based on historical seasonal ridership levels,” Hass said. “When you run boats 365 days a year, they will occasionally develop mechanical issues. Always have, always will.”

The winter schedule is as follows:

Departing  Hatteras:  5 a.m., 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, Noon,   1 p.m., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, midnight.

Departing Ocracoke:  4:30 a.m., 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30 p.m., 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 9:30, 10:30, 12:30 a.m.

Photo by P. Vankevich


Heard on Ocracoke: Desirée Christa Ricker



Desiree Ricker PS

To listen to Desirée’s Song for Eliza and Ghost in the Water, click below.

When Desirée Christa Ricker was 13 her parents gave her a guitar. As soon as she had learned three chords, she began writing music using popular themes of love, home and self-discovery.

But music was not her first passion in the creative arts. It was the theater. At three she started dance lessons and at five, acting classes. She began performing at a professional summer theater at the ripe old age of six.

Desirée graduated from Appalachian State University with bachelor’s degree in philosophy, religion, and dance,  and a theater minor. She has worked for several theater companies including the Flat Rock Playhouse  and earned her membership with the Actor’s Equity Association at only 22.

Though she loved theater, after college it was no longer the source of passion and inspiration that it had once been. So, she began a journey working various jobs (barista, promotion, waitress, rider for injured race horses) in search of her own sense of peace.

In 2010, Desirée moved to New York City to watch, listen, learn and be inspired by the many talented musicians and singers and started writing songs in earnest.  Influenced by the roots music of Western North Carolina, her style is a fusion of folk, blues, bluegrass and rock.

A natural lyricist, she easily conveys universal themes in a way that tugs at the heart strings and leaves the audience wondering whether it was her secrets or theirs that had been told.

Originally from Hendersonville, North Carolina, she has made Ocracoke home since 2012 where teaches dance and acting classes, as well as Sunday school and voice lessons.

Desirée is looking forward to performing again at the Ocrachicks concert the Saturday evening of the  Ocrafolk Festival, June 5 to 7.

Song for Eliza:  

Ghost in the Water:  

Clam Chowder Cook-Off and dance coming soon

Clammy traditional
“The Clammy” award, designed by island artist Susan Dodd, for the traditional clam chowder winner at the Clam Chowder Cook-Off Saturday, April 4, in the Ocracoke Community Center.

In what organizers hope to be an annual event, to benefit Ocracoke Child Care, a Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Dance will be held April 4 in the Community Center, 999 Irvin Garrish Highway.

The cook-off will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the dance will be from 7 to 11 p.m., featuring the Ocracoke Rockers.

All–individuals, businesses, restaurants and professional chefs–are invited to create their best version of “traditional” Ocracoke Clam Chowder and/or non-traditional.

Traditional means the only ingredients allowed are clams and their juice, water, potatoes, onions, salt pork or bacon, salt and pepper. Pepper vinegar and hot sauce may be used as condiments.

“The inclusion of any other ingredients is considered non-traditional,” said Ruth Toth, who is organizing the cook-off.

Top vote-getters in the “peoples’ choice” judging in the two categories will receive a unique Golden Clamshell Trophy, “The Clammy,” created by island artist Susan Dodd. Runners-up will receive recognition as well.

To order clams–at least one week before the event–contact James Barrie Gaskill at 252-921-0134, or Native Seafood at 252-921-0011.

Chowder entry fee is $25 each and attendees will be charged $10 to taste all of the chowder entrees.  Cook-off contestants are asked to submit their registration forms by March 30.

During the Cook-off, there will be a bake sale, music and a performance by some of the students of “The Little School,” as the Child Care Center is called.  Ocracoke community radio WOVV 90.1 FM will broadcast during the cook-off.

Sponsorships of $50 each are also being sought for which entry into the cook-off will be included.

The dance that night from 7 to 11 p.m. will feature the Ocracoke Rockers. Along with the music, the OCC is asking people to bring heavy hors d’oeuvres. The OCC will provide beer and three cakes to raffle: a Hummingbird, chocolate layer and award-winning fig cake.

Admission to the dance is by donation as well as for the beer and hors d’oeuvres.

All proceeds will benefit the Child Care Center, which re-opened March 2 after a three-month hiatus in which the center was renovated and administration reorganized.

Details of the two events are on flyers circulated throughout the island and via the Center.

Clammy nontraditional
“The Clammy” trophy for the non-traditional clam chowder winner.
The Ocracoke Rockers will play at a benefit dance, 8 to 11 p.m., and Clam Chowder Cook-Off 11:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m., all on Saturday, April 4, in the Community Center. Photo by C. Leinbach

NC Catch Summit ‘Grow Your Seafood Business’ to be held on Ocracoke


The 4th annual North Carolina Catch Summit is slated for March 23 to 24 on Ocracoke Island.

Fishermen, seafood dealers, seafood restaurateurs, marketers and other involved in catching, growing, buying and selling North Carolina seafood are encouraged to register now to join NC Catch and this year’s host, the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association at the Summit.

Registration is free and open to anyone working in or interested in North Carolina’s local seafood industry. Learn from the success of other Catch groups and hear the latest updates on marketing opportunities related to NC seafood.

With presentations focused on business resources, new product development, expanding distribution networks, and consumer trends, the March Summit will be a great opportunity to learn about ways to grow or improve your local seafood business whether you are new to the North Carolina seafood industry or an experienced old salt.

The summit opens at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 23 with a fresh, local seafood dinner at the Berkley Manor on Water Plant Road, sponsored by the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association. Dinner is included with registration for the summit.

Tuesday’s events will take place in the Ocracoke Community Center, 999 Irvin Garrish Hwy, beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding at 3:15 p.m. Discussion will focus on growing North Carolina’s local seafood industry with presentations from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, statewide seafood distributors Pate-Dawson/Southern Foods and Locals Seafood, and seafood processors pioneering the market of value-added products.

There will also be a forum for hearing from summit participants about ideas and needs related to NC seafood. A box lunch from Eduardo’s Taco Stand will be provided to all participants courtesy of Tideland Electric Membership Corporation.

For more information and to register for the summit and dinner, call or email Rosemary Johnson (252-926-4474), or rjohnson@hydecountync.gov. Registration closes at 5 p.m. on March 17. Preview the complete 2015 NC Catch Summit agenda online at: www.nccatch.org.

NCDA-Seafood, Sea Grant, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuarine Program, Tideland EMC, NC Farm Bureau, Dare to Hyde Adventures and the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association are sponsors.

catch group logos together

Senior girls finish successful basketball careers

Katie Lucy ONeal Abigail 2015-02-17 17.50 (7)
Lady Dolphin seniors Katie O’Neal, Lucy O’Neal and Abigail Morris. Photo by P. Vankevich


By Peter Vankevich

Prior to Ocracoke School seniors Lucy O’Neal, Katie O’Neal and Abigail Morris joining the varsity basketball team, the Lady Dolphins in the previous four seasons had won a total of just nine games.

During their playing time, the team, coached by Adam Burleson, has won more than 65 games, captured two confer­ence championships and quali­fied for the state playoffs four times.

As a sophomore, Lucy won the Conference Player of the Year award and holds school

Lucy O'Neal. Photo by P.Vankevich
Lucy O’Neal. Photo by P.Vankevich

records for scoring, rebounding and blocking.

“We’ve been playing basket­ball all our lives,” Lucy said about the reason for their im­provement. A middle-school team began when they were in the seventh grade which greatly prepared them to compete at the varsity level, she said.

Abigail Morris (15). Photo by P. Vankevich
Abigail Morris (15). Photo by P. Vankevich

Abigail’s first love is cross-country where she excelled in helping the girls win the Re­gion 1 Cross Country Cham­pionship and she placed third overall.

“We’ve never had a group of athletes at Ocracoke who have had the experience of success that these seniors have had,” said Athletic Director Charles Temple. “Lucy has always been one of the tallest and strongest players on the court, but she has also worked on her game more than almost any player I’ve seen.”

Katie, in her junior year she became a potent scoring threat.

Katie O'Neal, Samantha Styron,, Abigail Morris and Lucy O'Neal helping with school fundraiser at Jason's Restaurant.
Katie O’Neal, Samantha Styron,, Abigail Morris and Lucy O’Neal helping with school fundraiser at Jason’s Restaurant.

“Abby epitomizes the kind of hustle and intensity that coach­es absolutely love,” Temple said. “It’s the kind of thing that you can’t easily teach but that makes a difference on every possession.”

“This group of seniors have shared the leadership respon­sibility, team goals, vision and commitment that turned our girls’ sports into cohesive and successful teams,” added Prin­cipal Walt Padgett.

The young women who were honored at the last home game will move on to higher educa­tion. Abigail plans to enter into a dental hygiene program, Lucy in nursing and Katie in becom­ing a teacher.

They plan to listen to the Dolphins games next season online with wovv.org and at­tend games.

Katie O'Neal rebounds.Photo by P. Vankevich
Katie O’Neal rebounds.Photo by P. Vankevich

Hundreds of activists challenge plans for offshore oil and gas drilling



Islanders head to the BOEM meeting Monday up the beach. Photo by Rachel ONeal.


March 17,2015
By David Mickey

An hour after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Open House Scoping Meeting for offshore oil and gas drilling began, more than 200 people had signed in.  By 7 p.m. when the meeting ended, 670 had registered.

The Outer Banks meeting in the Ramada Inn, Kill Devil Hills, regarding their 5-year plan (2017-2022) for off shore oil and gas development in the Atlantic Ocean, was added to BOEM’s schedule after a request from U.S. Congressman Walter Jones. The number exceeded the 400 people who showed up at BOEM’s meeting in Wilmington last month.

Next door to the Ramada at the Comfort Inn, activists filled the conference room to hear local speakers ranging from students to local mayors voice their objections to the federal government’s program that could allow offshore oil and gas development.  Ocracoke was well represented with a large banner and received a loud cheer from the audience.  At least a dozen islanders from Ocracoke made the trip.

offshore drilling 3 PS
At the BOEM meeting. Photo courtesy of David Mickey.

Several environmental groups including Oceana, the NC Coastal Federation, Sierra Club and the NC League of Conservation Voters were there to collect signatures on petitions and encourage people to comment on the Bureau’s proposal.

Following the speeches, the crowd moved to the beach for a large group photo next to the ocean.  As they posed on the beach with the ocean in the background, a small plane towing a banner that read “OIL DRILLING IS BAD FOR BUSINESS NOTTHEANSWERNC.ORG” circled overhead.

Offshore drilling meeting 2 PS
Activists at the BOEM meeting Monday gather on the beach for a group photo. Photo courtesy of David Mickey.

The scoping meeting served as an opportunity for citizens to ask questions of BOEM officials and to provide comments either in writing or online.

BOEM suggests that comments focus on specific local environmental impacts and include supporting evidence.  Economic impacts, as well as social and cultural issues, are also considered in the formal Environmental Impact Statement.  In the meeting room, a video on the scoping process ran continuously.  Tables with information handouts where BOEM representatives explained the draft program were arranged around the room.

This is the first of two opportunities for public comment and it ends on March 30.

The first document is officially titled the “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2017-2022 Oil & Gas Leasing Program.”  After revisions based on additional data and comments received, a “Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” will be published sometime in the spring of 2016.

At that time another 45-day comment will allow for additional comments.  As of now, no public hearing is planned.  Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), public comment opportunity is required; public hearings are not.  At a public hearing, all interested parties are given the opportunity to make a public statement in addition to their written comments.  Hearings generate much more media interest and public awareness of the issues.  Spokesmen for NEPA and BOEM indicated at yesterday’s meeting that they would consider the option of a public hearing when the final draft is released next year.

Meanwhile, applications for permits to conduct seismic testing are being processed at the state and federal level now.  The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management is currently reviewing three applications for consistency with the state’s rules.   BOEM’s final decision to move forward with seismic testing in the Atlantic was made in July 2014.  Testing will begin before any decisions on oil and gas leases are made.

Information about BOEM, their energy development programs and how to comment can be found on their website at:  http://boemoceaninfo.com/


















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