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.”