(Anthony: Chart 11550)
Roger Hammer, Pentagon Sailing Club recently was kind enough to send Magnolia an update on visiting Ocracoke, NC. He gave permission to share and hopefully some will find it useful.
“Navigation approaches — Are you planning on going down Albemarle Sound and around Richmond Island or taking the ICW Alligator River – Pungo River route to Pamlico Sound to get to Ocracoke? I have not done the Albemarle Sound – Richmond Island route so I don’t have any first hand info getting to Ocracoke from the north. If you do come that way, you’ll be using the Big Foot Slough Channel to get into Ocracoke. That’s the same channel the car ferries use so it has good water all the way in. It is narrowest at the north end and my local friends tell me that you can get a fairly strong tidal current at max flood/ebb.
If you’re coming from the west (ICW), the Nine Foot Shoal Channel provides the most direct route into Ocracoke. Waypoints on the way out from Bay River are Brant Island Shoal to the north and Royal Shoal lights “5R”, “3” and “1” to the south. There’s good water all around Royal Shoal Light “1” so you can cut inside and run the rhumb line from Royal Shoal “3” to Green “9” at the entrance to 9 Foot Shoal Channel. Water depth is 8 to 9 feet across Bluff Shoal if you go inside Royal Shoal Light “1”. It a foot or two deeper if you stay north of “1”.
Follow the marks closely as you transit Nine Foot Shoal Channel. It’s shallowest at the west end but we never saw less than 8 feet on our depth sounder and it gets deeper as you go in. The channel marks appeared closer together on our chart plotter than they are visually for some reason. The marks can get a little confusing as you transit Nine Foot Shoal Channel as you can see marks in the main channel in the distance (Big Foot Slough Channel) so I watched the depth contours on my chart plotter closely to confirm I was heading for the correct marks. Note: Green Mark “5” between Red “6” and “4” was missing when we came in. (Anthony: The missing mark is NOT yet reflected in Active Captain) I checked As you approach the main channel, be sure to honor the Red “2” and Green “1” buoy gate before turning south into Big Foot Slough Channel. The car ferries use Big Foot Slough Channel so it’s a good idea to check the ferry schedules for both the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries so you don’t encounter them on the way in/out as the channel is narrow and they claim right of way (so we were told). Once in the main channel, head south for ~1.5 miles past Red “6” and “4”. When you get to the Silver Lake Junction Light “SL” you’ll make a sharp hairpin turn to the left to enter the Silver Lake Channel. Plenty of water in the channel – just follow the marks.
As you enter Silver Lake, the ferry docks will be on your immediate left, and the Silver Lake Marina Park docks just to the right of the ferry docks on the north side of the lake. There’s also one ferry dock to the right of the park dock where one of the ferries ties up overnight. There are plenty of guest slips both on the park docks as well as along the quay wall. The park docks have fresh water and power but no pump out. There are public restrooms at the building near the ferry docks but no showers. They charge a dollar a foot at the park docks. If you want full marina amenities, you can tie up at the Anchorage Inn and Marina which is the next set of docks down on the left. They charge about $2 a foot. We tied up at Anchorage Inn and Marina and they were very accommodating. Anchorage Inn Marina has bicycles and motor scooters for rent. You can also rent a golf cart at a number of different places in town.
Ocracoke Town Area
The downtown area is an easy walk from the park docks and marina. Quite a few restaurants, tourist gift shops and several art galleries. Some of the shops are seasonal and may be closed when you are there. If you want to go to the beach or visit the light house, recommend renting some bikes as they’re further out of town.
We had dinner at the Flying Melon one evening – on the higher end price wise but excellent food. 30-45 min wait for a table as they don’t take reservations. Had lunch at Eduardo’s Taco Stand 1st day – #1 rated place to eat on Trip Advisor – waited about 30 minutes for food and worth the wait. Both of these places are on the opposite end of town – 20 to 30 minute walk. If you need groceries or liquor, these stores are located just beyond Eduardo’s on the main road.
There’s a small local museum across the park from the ferry docks that’s worth a visit (free/donations). The light house on the edge of town is interesting but you can’t go up inside. There “wild” ponies/horses in a corral 7 miles out of town. The public beach is about 2 miles out of town – very nice and clean.
The highlight of the visit was the Ocrafolk Opry on Wednesday evening hosted by the band Molasses Creek at the Deepwater Theater – eclectic mix of local/regional folk singers and story tellers. $15 for a two hour show and they sell out every week. Looks like their last show for the season is Wednesday, 23 September. Not sure whether your planned visit dates will get you in there that early but it’s well worth adjusting your schedule a few days if you’re close. “
Roger, thank you so much for allowing me to share this! More from Magnolia in a couple of days though we are currently in Solomon’s Island