Local News

Hatteras Ferry Runs into Sandy Problems

Posted July 27, 1999

— The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is settling well into its new home. The last beam used to move the lighthouse was removed Tuesday. Wednesday, crews started laying bricks for the new foundation.

However, the ferry ride to see the lighthouse has been less than smooth for many visitors because several ferries have run aground in the Hatteras Inlet.

"Those shoalings can normally be ... 3, 4, 5 feet deep, can build up just to where its just 1 foot clearance," says district supervisor Jack Cahoon.

The sand makes it hard for people like Captain R.V. O'Neill to navigate.

"It makes it a lot more difficult because you always have to worry about slowing down or tearing the ferry up if you hit bottom," he said.

For nearly a half-century, the Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry has been the only efficient route for tourists, commercial vehicles, and people trying to leave Ocracoke in emergencies. Recently though, boats have been grounded.

Back in March a ferry was stuck for three hours.

The state says it has temporarily cleared the channel for ferries and other boats with its own light-duty dredging machine. But the state stresses that this is by no means a permanent solution.

The state wants the Army Corps of Engineers to help out. The Corps already maintains several channels in North Carolina.

The work could take several years. Until then, people can only hope the state can keep the channel deep enough so their ship can keep coming in. -->

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