North Carolina's DOT runs an outstanding ferry service. This year, we once again took the Cedar Island to Ocracoke and the Ocracoke to Hatteras ferries, on our way up to Roanoke Island and Manteo, and the Elizabethan Gardens.
But this year, rather than return by the Outer Banks ferries, we came around by way of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, and then back down to Carteret County by way of the Bayview-Aurora and the Minnesott Beach-Cherry ferries.
We have a gallery up here:
NC ferry trips 06.04/05.2013
and here is one on the Sound-class ferries Swan Quarter and Sea Level:
NC ferries Swan Quarter and Sea Level
The Cedar Island to Ocracoke trip is by Sound-class ferry. These are the big ones, new ones, very nicely constructed, and manned by highly trained professional crews. All the ferries are well-maintained and manned by highly trained professional crews, but the Sound-class boats are truly exceptional. This trip we were on Sea Level again.
The run from Ocracoke to Hatteras is by Hatteras-class boats, older but hardly garbage scows. We were on Thomas A. Baum this trip. All the ferries we were on were freshly painted and more than clean enough to gladden the heart of the crustiest old US Coast Guard or US Navy chief.
The other crossings were over the Pamlico River and the Neuse River. These were on River-class boats. We were on Fort Fisher and Governor Daniel Russell.
We usually stop by Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on these trips, and we did on this one, but we didn't get any photos. We were on the beach when a number of gully-washers passed through the area, so we couldn't get any shots of the NWR. We were too busy keeping from being washed out to sea. Fortunately there was no lightning, so we walked the beach in the downpour, an experience we highly recommend. The heavy rain tends to flatten the seas, and you can hear the hiss of the rain as it hits the ocean. We saw a flight of five pelicans zooming along only a foot or two above the water, barely visible in the rain. Here is a gallery of Pea Island from a previous trip.