Barry Crum, owner of Crum Works of Buxton, in the excavator at right, pulls the “Vivens Aqua’ away from the ocean and toward Ocracoke Inlet on Feb. 7. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

The “Vivens Aqua,” stranded on Ocracoke for the last 14 days, is taking an overland route to get back into the water.

Using giant pneumatic pins and sometimes in a driving rain on Monday, the crew of Crum Works of Buxton rolled the 55-foot Novatec yacht to within about 500 feet of the deeper water in Ocracoke Inlet.

The boat grounded on Ocracoke’s South Point around 1 a.m. on Jan. 25. Several attempts to pull it back into the water were unsuccessful and the owner, Scott Pumphrey, said his insurance company decided to change tactics.

Crum’s crew began moving the boat on Saturday and moved it about 100 feet. They did not work on Sunday and returned on Monday. During the daylong endeavor, the “Vivens” moved gradually along on four pneumatic pins, rolling the 55,000-pound boat several feet on three pins, then deflating the rear one, hauling that around to the front and reinflating it for the next pull. After several hours, the boat was at the edge of the VFA (the vehicle free area) at the tip of South Point.

Pumphrey said that on Tuesday the crew will pull the “Vivens” the last 500 or so feet to the water’s edge. Then they will do an inspection “to make sure she won’t sink.”

Then, another boat will pull the “Vivens” into Ocracoke’s Silver Lake on Wednesday. After that, the boat will be towed to a boat yard in Morehead City for repairs, Pumphrey said.

The ‘Vivens Aqua’ is at the edge of the vehicle free zone on South Point and about 500 feet from the deeper water of Ocracoke Inlet. Photo: C. Leinbach

Pumphrey had purchased the boat, built in 2001, in Palm Coast, Florida, and had been sailing it for a week up the Intracoastal Waterway to his Salisbury, Maryland, home.

His wife, Karen, joined him in Wilmington a few days before their unfortunate landing on Ocracoke.

Previous reports said Karen was with him from the outset, but she corrected that during an interview Monday and noted how terrified she was the night of Jan. 24 in the pitch dark waters outside of Ocracoke.

“I just kept looking out in that ocean knowing I had to go back out there because I didn’t know how long we were going to be there,” she said about waiting in the water on Tuesday, Jan. 25. “I thought the water would come up; it would drift us out and we’d be done. So, I was petrified to go back out in that ocean. Yeah, it scared me to death.”

Karen left the boat the afternoon it grounded and was able to return home, but she and Scott have been in contact daily.

She was happy that islanders have been bringing her husband some things he needs, though it took him a while to allow that.

“Usually, he doesn’t like taking anything from anybody,” she said. “He’s not used to taking; he’s a giver.”

Pumphrey, a retired police lieutenant from the Baltimore Police Department, has remained in his unheated boat since the mishap. A camp cookstove that uses propane bottles has been his only heat as he warms his food. Solar powered batteries have kept his phone charged.

Despite the blustery winter weather, he has been sanguine about his misadventure on Ocracoke, noting that he’d love to return in calmer, warmer weather after his boat is fixed.

“I love this boat,” he said. “It took me a long, long time and a ton of work to get her and I am going to stick it out.”

To read a column on the challenges of sailing along the Outer Banks, click here.

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