Tropical Storm Isaias causes sand to fill crucial Ocracoke channel

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The Carteret will be the only ferry running routes to Cedar Island and Swan Quarter after Hurricane Isaias caused the channel leading into the harbor to shoal up to less than eight feet in places. (File photo by Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot) (Steve Ea

Posted August 6, 2020

OCRACOKE, N.C. — Ferry routes between Ocracoke and the mainland are down to one vessel after severe shoaling from Tropical Storm Isaias.

A smaller ferry named the Carteret will make one round trip to Cedar Island in the morning and another round trip to Swan Quarter in the afternoon, said Tim Hass, spokesman for the North Carolina Ferry Division.

“The biggest ferries were bumping the bottom,” he said.

The state ferry division has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do emergency dredging in the channel near the Ocracoke harbor, he said.

The Corps of Engineers is responsible for keeping the channel clear, but strong currents and storms continually cause the bottom to fill.

Normally three ferries run across the Pamlico Sound from Ocracoke island to Swan Quarter and from Ocracoke to Cedar Island.

Swan Quarter is the seat of Hyde County and is where people on Ocracoke often go for county business. It is also the route taken by tourists coming from metropolitan areas of North Carolina such as Raleigh.

Cedar Island in Carteret County is the route to Ocracoke and Hatteras Island typically taken by visitors from southern states and parts of western North Carolina, including Charlotte.

The channel that leads into the ferry docks at Ocracoke’s Silver Lake harbor should be at least nine feet deep for the larger boats. The channel, called Bigfoot Slough, is currently less than eight feet deep in places, Hass said.

Source: pilotonline