Green means go, For the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry. For two months the shops and restaurants in Southport were quiet, while the ferry was closed for repairs. Business was so slow, boutique owner Darla LeClerc decided she needed to make a change. "I moved half a block for rent reasons," she said. The rent at her new location is significantly lower than before. Since the ferry was closed, and the holiday season was slow, LeClerc said she had no choice. "For the next two years, I think it's going to be really tight, and you are going to have to make your pennies stretch." Down the road, art gallery owner Ricky Evans also felt the crunch. Even his loyal customers took a break while the ferry wasn't running. "We had one customer who always brought her framing business to us, and she said she probably wouldn't see me for a couple months because of the ferry closing, and she just couldn't see driving around," Evans said. The good news is the ferry's ramp is fixed, and the boat is back up and running. Folks lined up Monday morning, happy to get back into their routine. The ferry will be running under an abbreviated schedule come spring and summer. The Coast Guard is regulating how many hours ferry crew months can work in a row. To avoid working more than twelve hour shifts, the DOT is cutting back two routes in the middle of the day.
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