By Peter Vankevich and Connie Leinbach
Another unattended, anchored sail boat in Silver Lake Harbor has become unmoored and is getting close to being aground near Silver Lake and Sarah Ellen Drive following the latest wind storm Wednesday (Dec 8) that had gusts up to 50 mph. This is the third unattended boat to get loose since a storm Nov. 1.
“If we get another high tide and wind out of the north and east, it will end up in the marsh,” said Byron Miller, who along with his father, Norman, secured one of the loose boats of Nov. 1. “It will take a west wind to blow it back out.”
Bill Gilbert, owner of the Anchorage Inn & Marina, is also concerned and concurs with others that loose boats have caused damage to property and other boats.
With the previous two loose boats, the owners were contacted and they are now tethered to a dock owned by Jackie Wilson.
The Ocracoke Observer reported on the Nov. 1 incident and wrote an editorial in its December print issue.
Both County Commissioner John Fletcher and County Manager Bill Rich have gone on record that Hyde County should address this problem after Norman Miller’s testimony at the county commissioners meeting on Nov. 3.
“I think we should look at the legislation dealing with this issue that Dare and Brunswick Counties got passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and see if Hyde County should try for something like it,” Fletcher yesterday. “It’s a problem that’s existed for many years.”
In the meantime, officials from different agencies are scratching their heads about how to deal with unattended or abandoned boats that good-Samaritan residents are left to handle, both in terms of time and cost.
Ed Fuller, Ocracoke district ranger supervisor for the National Park Service, also agreed that unattended boats have been a longstanding problem that no one seems to want to tackle.
He said earlier this year the park service disposed of a loose sail boat that was damaging the NPS public dock. They tried to track down the owner, but it had changed hands a few times and they could not determine an owner, he said.
“We hauled it out of there with our front-end loader, took it to our maintenance area, crushed it and put it in our dumpster,” Fuller said.
Robert Anthony, Hyde County enforcement officer for NC Fish and Wildlife, said today he would try to find the owner through official channels.