Currituck-Knotts Island ferry crews shift to cover Hatteras Inlet rest of week

The M/V Gov. James Baxter Hunt, Jr. is the primary vessel for the Currituck Sound route. [NCDOT photo]

The N.C. Ferry Division announced Tuesday it will not be operating the Currituck-Knotts Island route through Friday, which has left some residents of Knotts Island fuming.

The crews that operate the M/V Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., are being called to Hatteras Inlet to cover operations on the state’s busiest ferry route ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend.

The ferry division has not been immune to the labor shortage along the Outer Banks, or the impacts of the record number of visitors.

“Due to demand, the Ferry Division needed to move the crew from Currituck to Hatteras for a few days to put our resources where they are needed most,” said NCDOT Ferry Division Communications Office Tim Hass.

With 30 departures scheduled between 4:30 a.m. and midnight from each side, and Coast Guard mandated maximums on duty hours have stretched thin the human resources available at Hatteras Inlet.

The Currituck Sound ferry route has just five departures daily from each side between 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Hass said the Currituck-Knotts Island route carried a total of 4,211 passengers last month, while Hatteras-Ocracoke carried 69,279. In the June 2019, Currituck-Knotts Island had 3,879 passengers while Hatteras had 89,898.

The Currituck-Knotts Island ferry was established in 1962 at the order of Gov. Terry Sanford to transport children that lived on the island to the lone high school on the mainland and give the island its only direct connection to the rest of North Carolina.

Winds, low water, other weather prevents the ferry from running on a regular basis, especially in winter, which means a 45 to 60 minute drive on narrow two-lane roads through Virginia Beach and Chesapeake to reach jobs in North Carolina and access most county and state services.

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