After long-awaited dredging of the channels in Shallowbag Bay and Roanoke Sound, the representative 16th-century sailing ship Elizabeth II departed Roanoke Island Festival Park Tuesday morning for its first maintenance haul-out since 2017.
The N.C. General Assembly approved $1.9 million to pay for the dredging of 2.2 miles of the waterways off Manteo, while another $170,000 came from the state’s Shallow Draft Navigation Fund and the Town of Manteo.
A contractor from South Carolina began digging out the channels in late December and planned to complete the work this week.
The clearing of a 50-foot-wide, nine-foot-deep channel will allow safer access to Manteo harbor for not only the Elizabeth II, but working and pleasure boats.
Because an affordable site to dump the dredge spoils nearby was not available, the sand was transported by barge to shore and then trucked to the Dare County Landfill in Manns Harbor to be used as groundcover and road maintenance at the complex on the mainland.
The wooden-hulled Elizabeth II was built by hand at what is now the site of the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum using privately-raised funds, and was launched in 1984 as part of the 400th anniversary celebration of the Roanoke Voyages to the New World.
It was then donated to the state and became part of the attractions at Roanoke Island Festival Park located across Dough’s Creek from the Manteo waterfront and operated by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Kim Sawyer, executive director of Roanoke Island Festival Park, said the ship will be hauled out at a boat yard in Wanchese for a variety of repairs to the hull.
Park staff and volunteers with the Friends of Elizabeth II, many whom make up the crew of the ship, will be documenting with video and social media posts the work that will be taking place during the haul out.
Plans are for the Elizabeth II to return to its home port in about three weeks, just ahead of the park opening for 2021, Sawyer said.
For more details about Roanoke Island Festival Park, visit RoanokeIsland.com.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.