Abandoned or unattended boats left anchored in Silver Lake for extended periods of times can be a serious safety issue. Sometimes these boats–left to avoid paying docking fees–are derelict and have neither a current registration nor mast lights. Should these boats unmoor in a storm they could cause serious damage to other boats, docks and people.
The problem surfaced again when on the weekend of Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree (Nov. 1), a nor’easter caused two boats to break their moorings. At the height of that nighttime storm in 50 mph winds, dock owners had to secure other peoples’ boats–also a dangerous activity.
Part of the problem on Ocracoke is that no enforcement agency seems to want to tackle the problem of stationary boats that may be in violation of boating regulations. The coastal town of Beaufort has enacted an ordinance for such boats and Brunswick and Dare Counties used their political clout to get legislation especially for them. If word gets out that Ocracoke has derelict/abandoned boats in its harbor, it may discourage legitimate boats owners from mooring here. This, in turn, could harm the island’s economy.
We know that sometimes our local officials eschew enacting more rules, but of greater concern is safety. Who does one call in the middle of the night when a loose boat is banging against someone’s property?
Byron and Norman Miller, from experience, anticipated a problem and luckily were able to secure someone else’s loose boat. Fortunately, neither man was injured this time, though Byron told us he once fell in trying to secure a loose boat.
We urge the Ocracoke Advisory Planning Board and the county commissioners to take a look at what others are doing and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of Silver Lake