Outer Banks summer ferry service reduced due to shoals and labor shortages – The Virginian-Pilot

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A labor shortage in Hatteras and severe shoaling problems in Pamlico Sound forced the North Carolina ferry system to adjust its summer schedules to and from Ocracoke Island.

The division has held seven job fairs in eastern North Carolina so far this year, but still needs to fill several positions to fully staff ferry operations to and from the Hatteras Islands. and Ocracoke.

Ocracoke ferry routes are also complicated by shoaling, which is the shifting of sandbars and sediment due to waves and wind that can lead to dangerously shallow water.

The division says severe shoaling in Pamlico Sound’s Bigfoot Slough has created a safety issue for larger ferries, causing those boats to be taken off the road. Schedules are changing for the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter routes accordingly. See www.ncferry.org for new timetables.

The shoal has long been a problem on ferry routes to and from Ocracoke, but it has become severe enough to smother the island from Hatteras Island and the mainland several times this year.

Emergency dredging is underway along the route which transport officials say will cause larger ferries to return. Bigger ferries carry more people and cars, helping to ease the congestion the road has faced in recent weeks, the NCDOT said.

In the meantime, travelers making short visits from Hatteras to Ocracoke are encouraged to use the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry to avoid wait times for the vehicle ferry.

This year, passengers travel on a newly built Ocracoke Express carrying up to 129 passengers on three daily round trips until September 5. Reservations are available online or by calling 1-800-BY-FERRY or online at www.ncferry.org.

Kari Pugh, [email protected]a.com

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