The “Josna,” a derelict sailboat languishing against a private dock in Silver Lake Harbor, was pumped out and is anchored, awaiting final disposition. Photo: C. Leinbach

To read an earlier story on this boat, click here, for Ocracoke news, click here 

By Connie Leinbach

Ocracoke rallied on Saturday (Feb. 2) and dislodged a derelict sailboat from a private dock on Silver Lake Drive that had languished there since December.

Islanders Farris O’Neal, owner of Drumstick Sport Fishing, and Jeramy Guilleroy, a teacher at the school,  pumped out the “Josna,” and then anchored it alongside the fishing shack at Carolyn Jones’s property, O’Neal said.

After an early December storm, the sailboat unmoored and ended up against Marcy and Fred Zbranak’s dock across from their house on Silver Lake Drive. This boat’s fate took up the bulk of the discussion at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Ocracoke Waterways Commission where the Zbranak’s sought relief. 

Tom Pahl, Ocracoke’s county commissioner, said in that meeting that, legally, Hyde County is not responsible for removing derelict boats. He had asked the Zbranak’s if they would share the cost with the county to remove the boat, but the couple declined.

The waterways commission then decided to ask the Occupancy Tax Board for a one-time, emergency grant to pay for removal and has sent a letter to that effect to the board members, Pahl said.

In the meantime, O’Neal asked Pahl if the county would help by footing the bill for a dumpster and a backhoe for O’Neal to smash the boat and dispose of it.

“I raised that at the commissioners’ meeting (Feb. 4) and we’re looking into it,” Pahl said. “We’re very confident we can do something to get that boat out of the water, but removal may still need some money from occupancy tax.”

O’Neal, for his part, said it took about an hour to pump out the boat and haul it to its current anchorage.

“The boat is in very good shape,” he said. “I was impressed with how it looks. The mast isn’t dented.”

The inside of the 28- to 29-foot built in 1989 boat isn’t bad either, he said, noting that the hose clamps don’t have any rust.

O’Neal will continue down the disposal path unless someone wants to buy it from O’Neal, who claims he now has “salvage rights.” According to Pahl, once you abandon a boat, anyone can lay claim to it.

O’Neal said anyone interested in buying it and hauling it it away should call him at 252-588-0193, but Pahl said he doesn’t want it to stay in Silver Lake.

“I want it out of the water,” Pahl said “Nobody’s sailed that boat. It’s just been a floating motel.”

A chain of ownership over the last several years has shown just that, Pahl said.

On Saturday, after being prompted by Janille Turner, who said that C.J. Wynn was in charge of the boat, the local guys did their thing.

“I got it off there,” O’Neal said. “Freddy’s my buddy.”

Last year, the county approved an interim ordinance, based on a statute allowing for the removal of derelict vehicles, allowing for the removal of abandoned boats but not length-of-stay.

A more comprehensive ordinance, based on the one Brunswick County has, that will also address length of anchorage.

According to the North Carolina constitution, the county cannot enact any law unless it’s enabled by the General Assembly.

“The legislature has to give us enabling legislation to regulate dropping anchor in the harbor,” Pahl said.

Such an ordinance is on the top of the county attorney’s priority list, Pahl said.

He also said Joe and Henri McClees, the lobbyists hired by Hyde County, are working on it as are some legislators.

“We’ve had some direct contact with legislators,” Pahl said. “This will come together soon.”



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  1. The main reason why these’floating motel rooms’ have been a problem is the lack of affordable housing on Ocracoke.When i showed up on Ocracoke in 99,the only housing I could find was a beat up travel trailer,shed,floating motel room or maybe a room sublet. My potential income was maybe a thousand a month during a 6 mth season if we missed a hurricane hit.I was lucky enough to show up right before Dennis and Floyd! A number of travel trailers have been removed because of ordinance issues and realtors trying to increase value of overpriced property’s.I was fortunate enough to show up here with ‘a pot to piss in'[,A quote from a local business owner].but still found housing a major issue.Some business owners provide housing just for the season and essentialy hold their employee’s beholden to them.Once the season is over,they are cut loose to fend on their own.To treat seasonal employee’s as just a commodity and wonder why people are forced to live in sub par housing and don’t stay on as reliable help is to be expected.

  2. Put the boat for sale for the price of the new owner removing the boat and taking care of it. Just because a boat breaks loose in a storm does not mean it does not have value. It would seem people are in a panic and not using common sense with regards to this vessel. Use it’s value and not spend restores foolishly.

  3. Some years back, we rented a paddleboat and wandered around Silver Lake a bit. I forget exactly how we got there in the conversation, but the rental guy mentioned about not stopping at another dock – supposedly if you left your boat tied to someone else’s dock, they legally had rights to it, or something like that. If true, then wouldn’t the owner of the dock now be the owner? Obviously an issue if it’s really just trash, but sounds like in this instance, it may have a little value. If so, sounds to me like the dock owner is now the boat owner and would be free to sell or let someone salvage it for free or whatever…problem solved?

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