Ferry Adventure on a Sandbar

Some passengers took the really, really long route to Hatteras today.

Stephanie Lyons staying cheerful!
Stephanie Lyons staying cheerful!

This morning, when Stephanie Lyons, a seasonal National Park Service employee from Omaha, Nebraska, began the first day of her weekend, she had no idea what was in store. She slept in, but was up at Ocracoke's South Dock Terminal, located at the island's north end, ready to board the 10:30am ferry to Hatteras. Prepared with a list of food and other items to purchase in Avon, she was all set for a quick and productive trip.

Around 11:30, with the Hatteras ferry terminal in view, the M/V Roanoke stopped, stuck on a sandbar in the shallow water. It was around this time Stephanie spotted another Ocracoke resident. Tabitha Brooks, who works at the Ocracoke Visitor Center, was also out running errands. The two chatted and thought nothing of the minor hiccup.

After almost two hours of being stuck Stephanie said, "They began shifting our cars around. The ferry was kind of tilting because of a semi-truck. They wanted to shift the weight around to help get the ferry off the sandbar." She went on to say she felt like she was about to roll off the side of the ferry! "There were ferries coming and going all around us," Stephanie continued, "then Tabitha found out we were teeter-tottering on a sandbar!"

The Captain reportedly was able to free the Roanoke, but only briefly. The southeasterly wind, which was blowing between 20 and 25mph with gusts of 30mph, pushed the ferry back onto the sandbar. "We were told we'd have to wait until the water level rose, but then found out the Coast Guard was coming to pick us up!" Stephanie, while maintaining a positive attitude, exclaimed, "We were only ten minutes from Hatteras when we got stuck!"

Rescue boat!
Rescue boat!

Once the Coast Guard arrived with a rescue vessel, the 23 passengers took turns boarding the small boat. The ferry could not be towed until all passengers were safely on land, which was accomplished by the Coast Guard making multiple trips to and from the M/V Roanoke. No passengers were injured and no vehicles were damaged during the stranding. The passengers were reunited with their vehicles around 6pm once the ferry was safely docked at the Hatteras Ferry Terminal.

"This was definitely an adventure to be remembered!" Stephanie said before heading off to complete her errands, hoping to catch the 9pm ferry back to Ocracoke.

The ferry was able to get off of the shoal under its own power, and it will be inspected for any damage before being placed back in service.


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