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Shoaling Near Ocracoke Temporarily Alters Pamlico Sound Ferry Schedule
Bigfoot Slough Water Depths Too Shallow for Larger Ferries
March 26, 2021

isiting boaters know Ocracoke’s channel can be tricky, especially the final approach near Silver Lake. Recent shoaling has now caused a problem for the large ferries that visit the island.

The NC Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division will be running an alternate schedule on Pamlico Sound between Cedar Island, Swan Quarter and Ocracoke due to critical shoaling issues in the ferry channel just outside of Ocracoke’s Silver Lake Harbor.

The schedule for March 26 – 30:

  • Ocracoke to Cedar Island: 7:30a, 1p
  • Cedar Island to Ocracoke: 10:30a, 4:30p
  • Ocracoke to Swan Quarter: 7a, 1:30p
  • Swan Quarter to Ocracoke: 10a, 4:30p

Shoaling occurs when sand and sediment fill into a ferry channel, making water depths too shallow for safe operation of the ferry system’s largest vessels.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ Dredge Murden is working in the Bigfoot Slough channel to clear the shoaling.

Dredge Murden
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dredge Murden

Once the dredging work is complete and water depths in the ferry channel return to acceptable levels, the Ferry Division will resume its regular schedule on both routes.

Murden is unlike dredging vessels seen locally – it is 150 ft long and weighs 550 tons. The Murden is able to carry dredge spoils directly onboard. It can carry the equivalent of up to 50 dump truck loads of dredged material – releasing that material by splitting its hull at a disposal area.

Dredge Murden
Dredge Murden holding spoils directly onboard.

Here’s a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers video of the Murden at work clearing Oregon Inlet.

Posted Friday March 26, 2021 by Keith N. Smith

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