Sundae Horn

Communication is good.

NCDOT Ferry Division staff will hold a meeting on Monday, October 20th at 1pm at the Methodist Church Rec Hall. The discussion is sure to include the possibility of passenger ferries. Ocracoke residents are also expected to air their grievances about some Hatteras ferry crewmembers' rudeness and bad attitudes.

Ocracoke Civic and Business Association has asked people to document their "comments/concerns/complaints about the operations, workers, etc.," with specific reference to dates and times. Everybody's got an anecdote. Write it down!

In the minutes from the September 10th OCBA meeting, secretary Connie Lenibach reported, "As for the Hatteras Ferry, [OCBA president Rudy Austin] said we need residents to notate the dates and times of specific ferry service 'horror stories.' Every day this summer that he has taken customers to Portsmouth some have complained about the ferries at Hatteras. He’s not sure the ferry division is receiving these complaints, but they need to hear them."

The issue came up again at the October 8th OCBA meeting. 

County manager Bill Rich advised OCBA members to communicate openly about the problems they've encountered. That means no hiding behind anonymity. Put your name on it!

"I've worked at developing a good relationship with the ferry division," he said. "And they are willing to listen to us. [Ferry division director] Ed Goodwin means what he says about accountability and respect. But we have to document our complaints. They need to be verified."

Bill Rich recently rode a ferry with NC Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata, as well as ferry director Ed Goodwin and deputy director Jed Dixon. (Tata's cruise didn't make it all the way to Ocracoke; he hung out at the shipyard in Manns Harbor and took a short photo op ride on the newly-refurbished M/V Silver Lake.

"They are really big on passenger ferries," Bill said about his NCDOT shipmates. "The state is behind this idea. But it won't happen if we don't have business support from Ocracoke." 

He recommends that Ocracokers keep an open mind (what an optimist!) about passenger ferries and find out more before making a decision yay or nay. 

One appeal of passenger ferries is their relatively cheap pricetag. 

"We can get three for the price of one car ferry," Bill said. 

OCBA members expressed worries that visitors are too attached to their cars to leave them behind, that we need the visitors to drive down Hwy. 12 and see the fourteen miles of pristine beach, and that we don't want NCDOT to give up on the old "short route" for good.

"They're not going to replace vehicle ferries," Bill said reassuringly. "If you have concerns, come to the meeting on the 20th."