Riding to your destination on one kind of ferry boat or another is a reality of life on the North Carolina coast. Ferries there come in all shapes and sizes.
On the left and below, I've figured out, are photos of the "ferry" we took to get from Harkers Island (which does have a bridge to the mainland) over to Cape Lookout (no bridge) back in 2002. In the picture above, you can see that the boat owner has painted the word FERRY in blue on a dock piling, though on the side of his little boat it says Harkers Island Fishing Center.
On the right is a shot showing how the improvised ferry "docks" over at Cape Lookout. I imagine the boat owner was moonlighting to make a little extra money. I wonder if he needed some kind of special license in order to carry paying passengers. It was a pleasant ride. We were lucky the rain stayed away.
I'm not sure that the catamaran on the left is operating as a ferry. It might just be chartered by groups of people who want to sail out to Cape Lookout and enjoy the views and the salt air. It looks like fun, except for the threatening weather.
The big boat on the right is a car ferry. It doesn't take cars out to Cape Lookout — what would be the point? There are no roads. It takes cars and passengers across the wide Neuse River estuary from Craven County over to Pamlico County, with the little towns of Arapahoe, Oriental, and Minnesott Beach. The ferry is the Neuse (pronounced "noose") and is registered in Morehead City.
This is the ferry we took that day (Sept. 3, 2002, according to the timestamp for the image) on our way north to the town of Bath. It was pulling into the ferry landing to discharge one load of cars and people and load us up for the trip over. The ride takes 20 minutes, and is free. It saves driving inland many miles to cross the Neuse on the first bridge you can get to from this point, and cuts what would by road and bridge a 1½ hour trip down by two-thirds.
Car ferries are awkward looking things seen from the front. They look like they might tip over if they didn't have 10 or 12 cars on the side opposite the... well, whatever you call it. I think there's a passenger lounge and then the boat pilot's cabin is above it. I guess it would be called the superstructure.