They danced a jig and jumped through some hoops, but somehow the Ferry Division of NCDOT managed to get a high speed passenger ferry for the Hatteras/Ocracoke run.
When construction began on the Ocracoke Express at US Boatworks in Swansboro in 2017 service was supposed to begin last summer, then in the fall, then this summer. Construction delays and the failure to pass Coast Guard welding standards have pushed the launch of the 98 passenger catamaran back to fall of this year.
But NCDOT had promised there would be a high speed passenger ferry this year and they’ve delivered, leasing the Martha’s Vineyard Express from Seastreak, a company that operates ferry service in a number of northeastern states.
The Martha’s Vineyard has been renamed the Ocracoke Express for the summer.
The high speed service is great news. Ocracoke is one of our favorite places to visit for a day trip, but when shoaling at Hatteras Inlet forced ferries to take a longer route between Hatteras and Ocracoke, long lines at the docks waiting to board the ferries have become frequent.
The old water route to Ocracoke was a 40 minute ferry ride. The new route is an hour, forcing NCDOT to schedule fewer runs to the island that is only accessible by boat.
The new route is a 70 minute run, but the ferry docks at Silver Lake. Ocracoke Village surrounds the bay.
Ocracoke is part of Hyde County and the county is providing a free tram service to the outlying areas of the village, including the ever-popular Howard’s Pub.
Right now there are three runs daily—leaving Hatteras at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and departing Ocracoke at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
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