AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

New rules for political content in signatures and user profiles. See this thread for details.

Author Topic: Outer Banks NC ferries  (Read 1285 times)

A.J. Bertin

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 840
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Last Login: January 24, 2021, 02:40:08 PM
Outer Banks NC ferries
« on: September 19, 2019, 10:36:05 PM »

As some folks know, I'm hosting what I call a "city meet" in the Outer Banks of North Carolina next April. The route I'm planning to take entails a clinch of most of NC 12. Here's my tentative plan:

Wednesday, April 22 - Drive from Grand Rapids MI to Pikeville KY
Thursday, April 23 - Drive from Pikeville KY to Morehead City NC
Friday, April 24 - Drive from Morehead City NC to Nags Head NC via the Cedar Island-to-Ocracoke ferry and the Ocracoke-to-Hatteras ferry, then up NC 12
Saturday, April 25 - The "city meet" which will entail lunch in Nags Head and dinner in Elizabeth City
Sunday, April 26 - Start my drive home from Elizabeth City (route TBD)
Monday, April 27 - Finish my drive home (route TBD)

I've been doing a bit of research online on the ferries and am trying to figure out whether I need to purchase ferry tickets in advance of my trip or if there's usually plenty of room on the ferry boat for cars to leave at their desired time without having to worry about purchasing tickets in advance. Can anyone provide any suggestions on that?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 09:19:04 PM by A.J. Bertin »
Logged
-A.J. from Michigan

kevinb1994

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1352
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Near Fort Caroline
  • Last Login: Today at 07:04:58 AM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2019, 11:32:48 PM »

As some folks know, I'm hosting what I call a "city meet" in the Outer Banks of North Carolina next April. The route I'm planning to take entails a clinch of most of NC 12. Here's my tentative plan:

Wednesday, April 22 - Drive from Grand Rapids MI to Pikeville KY
Thursday, April 23 - Drive from Pikeville KY to Morehead City NC
Friday, April 24 - Drive from Morehead City NC to Nags Head NC via the Cedar Island-to-Ocracoke ferry and the Ocracoke-to-Hatteras ferry, then up NC 12
Saturday, April 25 - The "city meet" which will entail lunch in Nags Head and dinner in Elizabeth City
Sunday, April 26 - Start my drive home from Elizabeth City (route TBD)
Monday, April 28 - Finish my drive home (route TBD)

I've been doing a bit of research online on the ferries and am trying to figure out whether I need to purchase ferry tickets in advance of my trip or if there's usually plenty of room on the ferry boat for cars to leave at their desired time without having to worry about purchasing tickets in advance. Can anyone provide any suggestions on that?
I just looked and it is recommended, but not required, that you reserve your ferry tickets in advance.
Logged

sprjus4

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5111
  • Location: Hampton Roads, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 07:41:05 AM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2019, 11:50:07 PM »

Wednesday, April 22 - Drive from Grand Rapids MI to Pikeville KY
Thursday, April 23 - Drive from Pikeville KY to Morehead City NC
Unless there's something specific you're after by going via Pikeville, I wouldn't advise taking that routing.

Fastest routing (directly) would be I-96, US-23, US-33, I-77, I-74, I-40, and US-70 - about 15 hours, 954 miles.

A routing through Pikeville would be 17 hours, 1,036 miles.

If you're not time rushed though, and have something specific to see, could be a more interesting drive over the interstate.
Logged

oscar

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8349
  • Age: 64
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 05:07:45 AM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2019, 12:20:34 AM »

Wednesday, April 22 - Drive from Grand Rapids MI to Pikeville KY
Thursday, April 23 - Drive from Pikeville KY to Morehead City NC
Unless there's something specific you're after by going via Pikeville, I wouldn't advise taking that routing.

Fastest routing (directly) would be I-96, US-23, US-33, I-77, I-74, I-40, and US-70 - about 15 hours, 954 miles.

A routing through Pikeville would be 17 hours, 1,036 miles.

You should know better than to assume that people on this forum generally want to take the fastest or shortest route. For example, A.J. might want to snag some more counties in eastern Kentucky and elsewhere along the way. I've taken even longer detours on my way to road meets (for example, from northern Virginia to a Toronto meet via southeastern Alaska).

The slogan of the county-counters club to which I belong is "The shortest distance between two points is NO FUN!"
Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

sprjus4

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5111
  • Location: Hampton Roads, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 07:41:05 AM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2019, 12:36:42 AM »

Wednesday, April 22 - Drive from Grand Rapids MI to Pikeville KY
Thursday, April 23 - Drive from Pikeville KY to Morehead City NC
Unless there's something specific you're after by going via Pikeville, I wouldn't advise taking that routing.

Fastest routing (directly) would be I-96, US-23, US-33, I-77, I-74, I-40, and US-70 - about 15 hours, 954 miles.

A routing through Pikeville would be 17 hours, 1,036 miles.

You should know better than to assume that people on this forum generally want to take the fastest or shortest route. For example, A.J. might want to snag some more counties in eastern Kentucky and elsewhere along the way. I've taken even longer detours on my way to road meets (for example, from northern Virginia to a Toronto meet via southeastern Alaska).

The slogan of the county-counters club to which I belong is "The shortest distance between two points is NO FUN!"
I’m aware, just trying to make some pointers, things to consider, etc.

Myself, I generally will just take the fastest route, though I have gone out of the way to clinch roads, etc.

On the way back from southern Texas this past summer, instead of the usual I-10 to I-65 to I-85, I took I-10, I-55, I-20, I-59, I-24, I-75, I-81 and I-64 to clinch parts of I-55, I-59, I-24, and I-75. It added about an hour to my overall trip.
Logged

A.J. Bertin

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 840
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Last Login: January 24, 2021, 02:40:08 PM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2019, 07:10:50 AM »

Wednesday, April 22 - Drive from Grand Rapids MI to Pikeville KY
Thursday, April 23 - Drive from Pikeville KY to Morehead City NC
Unless there's something specific you're after by going via Pikeville, I wouldn't advise taking that routing.

Fastest routing (directly) would be I-96, US-23, US-33, I-77, I-74, I-40, and US-70 - about 15 hours, 954 miles.

A routing through Pikeville would be 17 hours, 1,036 miles.

You should know better than to assume that people on this forum generally want to take the fastest or shortest route. For example, A.J. might want to snag some more counties in eastern Kentucky and elsewhere along the way. I've taken even longer detours on my way to road meets (for example, from northern Virginia to a Toronto meet via southeastern Alaska).

The slogan of the county-counters club to which I belong is "The shortest distance between two points is NO FUN!"
I’m aware, just trying to make some pointers, things to consider, etc.

Myself, I generally will just take the fastest route, though I have gone out of the way to clinch roads, etc.

On the way back from southern Texas this past summer, instead of the usual I-10 to I-65 to I-85, I took I-10, I-55, I-20, I-59, I-24, I-75, I-81 and I-64 to clinch parts of I-55, I-59, I-24, and I-75. It added about an hour to my overall trip.

Oscar is absolutely right. I'm trying to get new counties and new highway mileage that I don't currently have. I honestly had to shake my head at the comment "I wouldn't advise taking that routing" because, like Oscar says, it's not good to assume that most people on this forum want to take the shortest or fastest route.

What I would like to know, however, is whether anyone has experience taking these Outer Banks ferries (whether they've bought tickets in advance or not, what the ferries were like, whether they experienced any problems, etc.).
Logged
-A.J. from Michigan

oscar

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8349
  • Age: 64
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 05:07:45 AM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2019, 07:26:24 AM »

What I would like to know, however, is whether anyone has experience taking these Outer Banks ferries (whether they've bought tickets in advance or not, what the ferries were like, whether they experienced any problems, etc.).

On that question, I've taken the ferry from Cedar Island to Ocracoke. But that trip was so long ago (we're talking decades, not years) that I don't remember any details, which might've changed in the meantime anyway. As for the experience, nothing outstandingly negative about the trip.

If I go to the meet (putting that decision off a few months), I might take the ferry to Ocracoke from Swan Quarter. No reason other that I haven't done that before.
Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

Rothman

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 6478
  • Last Login: Today at 07:20:11 AM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2019, 09:02:43 AM »

I drove south from Kitty Hawk to Cedar Island and beyond just a couple of years ago, taking all the ferries inbetween (including a passenger trip to Portsmouth Island).

Relieving the stress of not knowing if I'd get on the ferry was well worth the price of getting tickets in advance.

My perception of when the Outer Banks are crowded is that it's complicated.  Sure, the summer is a high season, but then you have winter and spring breaks to wonder about.  Finally, retirees descend upon the area in the shoulder seasons.  It's tricky enough that I'd just get the tickets and rest assured you have a spot.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 09:05:08 AM by Rothman »
Logged
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

dfilpus

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 405
  • Location: Chapel Hill NC
  • Last Login: January 24, 2021, 05:01:01 PM
    • Filpus Roadgeek
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2019, 10:38:55 AM »

The ferries to/from Ocracoke are different animals. You probably should have a reservation for the Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry, since it only runs a few times a day. Since you are coming from Morehead City, you can plan ahead of time which ferry you want to be on. The Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry runs often (and is free). You can take the next ferry, depending on what you end up doing on Ocracoke and the traffic on NC 12.
Logged

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 15160
  • It is well, it is well, with my soul.

  • Age: 59
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: January 24, 2021, 08:25:54 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2019, 11:18:38 AM »

What I would like to know, however, is whether anyone has experience taking these Outer Banks ferries (whether they've bought tickets in advance or not, what the ferries were like, whether they experienced any problems, etc.).

On that question, I've taken the ferry from Cedar Island to Ocracoke. But that trip was so long ago (we're talking decades, not years) that I don't remember any details, which might've changed in the meantime anyway. As for the experience, nothing outstandingly negative about the trip.

Ha. This gives me a chance to once again discuss my single greatest youthful roadgeek accomplishment.

As I've mentioned before, my mother loved vacationing at the Outer Banks. We went there several times after 1967. Once, we went through Virginia to visit Appomattox and Williamsburg. Another time, we went across US 64.

On one trip, I wanted to ride the Okracoke ferry, but my dad didn't seem to be inclined to do that. Since I was already a youthful navigator, I hatched a plan. I was hopeful that my dad might hand off the driving to my mom by the time we reached the decision point for US 64 or US 70, at Raleigh. Sure enough, Dad was asleep when we got there. I guided Mom onto US 70 so we'd be heading for Morehead City.

Dad had a bit of roadgeek in him, so he wasn't too terribly upset.

But we didn't have advance reservations and it worked out OK. But again, that was sometime around 1970, and things have changed.
Logged

index

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 758
  • Vintage tech connoisseur

  • Age: 18
  • Location: Indian Trail, N.C.
  • Last Login: January 22, 2021, 06:37:45 PM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2019, 01:25:53 PM »

What I would like to know, however, is whether anyone has experience taking these Outer Banks ferries (whether they've bought tickets in advance or not, what the ferries were like, whether they experienced any problems, etc.).

On that question, I've taken the ferry from Cedar Island to Ocracoke. But that trip was so long ago (we're talking decades, not years) that I don't remember any details, which might've changed in the meantime anyway. As for the experience, nothing outstandingly negative about the trip.

Ha. This gives me a chance to once again discuss my single greatest youthful roadgeek accomplishment.

As I've mentioned before, my mother loved vacationing at the Outer Banks. We went there several times after 1967. Once, we went through Virginia to visit Appomattox and Williamsburg. Another time, we went across US 64.

On one trip, I wanted to ride the Okracoke ferry, but my dad didn't seem to be inclined to do that. Since I was already a youthful navigator, I hatched a plan. I was hopeful that my dad might hand off the driving to my mom by the time we reached the decision point for US 64 or US 70, at Raleigh. Sure enough, Dad was asleep when we got there. I guided Mom onto US 70 so we'd be heading for Morehead City.

Dad had a bit of roadgeek in him, so he wasn't too terribly upset.

But we didn't have advance reservations and it worked out OK. But again, that was sometime around 1970, and things have changed.


When navigating for my parents on the road in the past (they're awful at following directions on their own), I will admit, I've lied about directions and said there's traffic or the road's closed or what have you, in order to clinch a route or see an interesting road-related site. Either that or I'd tell them nothing and add my own stops on the route. The most extreme I'd ever taken it was when we were going to Gettysburg PA from Fairfax County VA and I routed my mother over White's Ferry on the Potomac. That added an hour and a half to the trip. Had she known this detour was totally unnecessary she probably would've thrown a fit.
Logged
North Carolinian born in Fairfax Co, VA. Advocate for slapping an interstate over every freeway and US route corridor in NC.





Counties traveled (outdated, not that accurate either)

1995hoo

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 12067
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 07:39:06 AM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2019, 11:48:29 AM »

I'll preface this comment with the caveat that the only time I took the Cedar Island ferry was in May 1993, so my experience may be of limited value.

With that said, I would make a reservation for that particular ferry. The ride is long (over two hours) and the boat is relatively small compared to ferries you may have ridden elsewhere. It's better not to take the chance on it being full because then you'll be stuck either waiting for a later sailing or having to go back and drive the long way around to get back to the Outer Banks via the land route. Cedar Island is out of the way enough that it simply doesn't make sense to take the risk.

For the Ocracoke-to-Hatteras ferry, however, you don't need a reservation. It's first-come first-served. The road up Ocracoke Island ends in sort of a teardrop shape and you line up along the teardrop. Depending on your tolerance for risking a speeding ticket, once you get out of the town of Ocracoke you might want to drive fast enough to try to beat the rest of the traffic coming from the Cedar Island ferry if you don't want to wait on line for a long time or possibly have to wait for the second ferry to Hatteras (if memory serves, the Hatteras ferries are somewhat smaller than the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries, in part because they run more often—but I might be mistaken on that because it's been so many years).



When navigating for my parents on the road in the past (they're awful at following directions on their own), I will admit, I've lied about directions and said there's traffic or the road's closed or what have you, in order to clinch a route or see an interesting road-related site. Either that or I'd tell them nothing and add my own stops on the route. The most extreme I'd ever taken it was when we were going to Gettysburg PA from Fairfax County VA and I routed my mother over White's Ferry on the Potomac. That added an hour and a half to the trip. Had she known this detour was totally unnecessary she probably would've thrown a fit.

Heh. Back in August of 1990, we were headed towards the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a family vacation. My dad got tired and asked me to drive because my mom didn't feel like driving. The two of them then dozed off. My brother and I decided that it wouldn't be too far out of the way if we detoured to Maine, specifically Freeport, to stop at LL Bean (at the time, the Freeport store was their only store). Dad was mildly surprised when he woke up to find we were on the Maine Turnpike, but he didn't mind too much because he liked visiting that store. The year before, when we stopped there en route to PEI on a Boy Scout trip to the Canadian Jamboree, we were there for several hours and only left when I pointed out that it was still several hundred miles to Moncton, where we had motel reservations that night.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2019, 11:54:17 AM by 1995hoo »
Logged
"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

wanderer2575

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 1029
  • Location: Farmington Hills, MI
  • Last Login: Today at 07:45:06 AM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #12 on: February 29, 2020, 07:59:02 PM »

What I would like to know, however, is whether anyone has experience taking these Outer Banks ferries (whether they've bought tickets in advance or not, what the ferries were like, whether they experienced any problems, etc.).

I know I'm late to this party, but I just now saw the topic.  I did this drive in April last year, but in the opposite direction (Kill Devil Hills south to Cedar Island and then on to Jacksonville).  I definitely would not have done the drive without a reservation on the Ocracoke --> Cedar Island ferry.  Keep in mind this ferry runs only three times a day (each direction) in April, so even though it's out of tourist season it can get full.  Going south, my only option for that ferry was the last one of the day.  Had I not had a reservation and couldn't board, I would have been stuck on the island overnight with possibly little or no lodging options.  I'm not adventurous enough to want to deal with that situation.

Not nearly so risky for you going north since you can catch any of the three daily ferries.  But given the limited service that time of year, were it me I still would make a reservation.
Logged

A.J. Bertin

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 840
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Last Login: January 24, 2021, 02:40:08 PM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2020, 12:55:09 PM »

What I would like to know, however, is whether anyone has experience taking these Outer Banks ferries (whether they've bought tickets in advance or not, what the ferries were like, whether they experienced any problems, etc.).

I know I'm late to this party, but I just now saw the topic.  I did this drive in April last year, but in the opposite direction (Kill Devil Hills south to Cedar Island and then on to Jacksonville).  I definitely would not have done the drive without a reservation on the Ocracoke --> Cedar Island ferry.  Keep in mind this ferry runs only three times a day (each direction) in April, so even though it's out of tourist season it can get full.  Going south, my only option for that ferry was the last one of the day.  Had I not had a reservation and couldn't board, I would have been stuck on the island overnight with possibly little or no lodging options.  I'm not adventurous enough to want to deal with that situation.

Not nearly so risky for you going north since you can catch any of the three daily ferries.  But given the limited service that time of year, were it me I still would make a reservation.

On the night of Thursday 4/23, I'll be staying in Atlantic Beach NC.  I reserved the 10:00 a.m. ferry from Cedar Island to Ocracoke.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2020, 01:05:12 PM by A.J. Bertin »
Logged
-A.J. from Michigan

ChimpOnTheWheel

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 36
  • Location: The Midwest
  • Last Login: January 22, 2021, 10:37:00 PM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2020, 01:04:55 PM »

From Grand Rapids to Pikeville, one could theoretically take US-131 southward to Indiana, then watch it turn into SR-13. Then take US-20 east to SR-5 south to US-33 (southeast?).

Then follow US-33 all the way to I-75 in Lima and proceed to the normal route.

Of course, I-96 to US-23 is like 10 miles shorter.
Logged
Just a casual.

A.J. Bertin

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 840
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Last Login: January 24, 2021, 02:40:08 PM
Re: Outer Banks NC ferries
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2020, 09:20:18 PM »

From Grand Rapids to Pikeville, one could theoretically take US-131 southward to Indiana, then watch it turn into SR-13. Then take US-20 east to SR-5 south to US-33 (southeast?).

Then follow US-33 all the way to I-75 in Lima and proceed to the normal route.

Of course, I-96 to US-23 is like 10 miles shorter.

Very true.  However, this particular thread is about the ferries in North Carolina... not necessarily about my route out of Grand Rapids.  Thanks for chiming in though!
Logged
-A.J. from Michigan

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.