A yacht owned by Scott and Karen Pumphrey of Baltimore, Maryland, sits in the high tide off South Point, Ocracoke, awaiting the aid of a tug boat. A U.S. Coast Guard vessel can be seen at right. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

Scott and Karen Pumphrey of Salisbury, Maryland, landed on Ocracoke the wrong way – on the beach in their grounded yacht in the darkness Monday night.

The couple, both unharmed and still inside their 55-foot yacht “Vivens Aqua,” are awaiting the help of a tow as of midday today (Tuesday, Jan. 25).

Talking to a reporter via Cape Hatteras National Seashore Law Enforcement Ranger Byron Atkinson’s phone, Scott said he and Karen were fine and well-provisioned.  Although the heat inside the boat is off, he said they have a portable heater.

He explained that the couple was traveling back home after having purchased the boat in Palm Coast, Florida, and had been sailing via the Intracoastal Waterway. 

They were on it for about a week going about 70 miles a day, he said.

“It was nice and calm yesterday and I wanted to make up some time,” he said. So, they left the Intracoastal at Morehead City and took to the ocean.

Around 7:30 p.m., after it got dark, Scott decided, although never having been here, they should overnight in Ocracoke and turned into the Ocracoke Inlet.

“Then the steering kept turning me around,” he said. He headed for a red beacon, “but the beach got in between, and I wasn’t moving anymore.”

When Cape Hatteras National Seashore personnel spotted the boat early this morning, it was fully on the beach and anchored.

Atkinson and another local were on the beach coaching Scott this morning as he tried to back out into deeper water.

“I had it moving but the engines just got stuck in the same spot,” he said.

Being from the Chesapeake Bay area, Scott said he’s been around boats since he was a teenager and has owned boats, “but not one this big. This is the first time I went and bought something real big.”

High tide was at 12:30 today and won’t be again until 1:24 a.m. Wednesday.

As the tide receded in the afternoon, the boat was almost back on the beach.

Scott said the tow boat was supposed to arrive around 6 p.m., and even though it would be low tide, they would attach a line and apply gentle pressure to try to get the boat into deeper water as the tide rose.

Late in the afternoon, Scott had islander Darren Burrus, who owns Cape Dredging and is often called on to dislodge grounded or submerged boats, take his wife, Karen, to catch the Hatteras ferry from where she took a shuttle to Norfolk and a plane to the couple’s home.

Scott said he would stay on the boat and as numerous curiosity seekers ventured out to the beach to see it, said he wished he could have seen Ocracoke under better circumstances.

“You all have been great,” he said.

Note: This story was updated/corrected from it’s original posting. The Pumphreys are from Salisbury, Maryland, not Baltimore, as originally reported.

The Pumphrey vessel on the Ocracoke beach at low tide Tuesday morning. NPS photo
Park Service Ranger Byron Atkinson talks with Scott Pumphreys Tuesday afternoon. Photo: C. Leinbach
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