It's Friday March 7, 2014
September 6, 2013
Letters have been coming following the Shipping News story about the boat Primadonna, which has been anchored in Oriental’s harbor since before the beginning of 2013. Many of the letters have taken issue with the continued presence of the boat in the harbor; some have urged charity to help the French crew on its way, others suggest might have the opposite effect.
The letters, the most recent first….
If we can’t get our government to secure our borders, how do y’all figure they will be worried about one boat in Oriental’s harbor? How long have they known about this overstayed (and unwelcomed) visitor?
We don’t have that problem here on Lake Huron; the ice floes and solid 3-foot stuff would get them out in another month or so.
Free food, Southern hospitality and government lethargy will have them there next spring – just you wait and see.
S/V Bobber Ann
Tawas Bay of Lake Huron, MI
To the Editor:
The Consulate General of France in Atlanta was made aware of the two French citizens who have been living aboard their vessel, the Primadonna, in the village of Oriental, NC for several months thanks to a letter that was sent to our Deputy Consul on July 31, 2013 by a concerned member of the community. This letter was followed up with an email on September 9, 2013 by the same concerned citizen, pleading with us to “assist [our] countrymen before [their] condition becomes worse.”
As the concerned citizen felt the need to have these letters published in your newspaper, it is only right that the Consulate General of France offers a more substantial explanation of our protocol.
Although that was very kind of Mrs. Laura A.M. Stanbrough to bring to our attention the unfortunate circumstances and, consequently, delinquent actions of Mr. Pascal Ott and Mrs. Monique Christmann, the Consulate General is unable to respond to the requests of Mrs. Stanbrough.
Regulations and restrictions dictate that the French Consulate may help adult French citizens exclusively upon their request. It is for this reason that the Consulate was unable to intervene upon the request of Mrs. Stanbrough, American citizen and resident of Oriental, NC.
Mr. Ott and Mrs. Christmann are welcome to contact the Consulate if they desire.
Consulate General of France in Atlanta
To The Editor;
The past couple of months we have witnessed the furor of some of our residents (& others) over the presence of the French yacht Primadonna in Oriental harbor. Many have complained, not only in letters to this website, but to government agencies, both French & American.
The grousing & complaints have not resulted in changing the situation either for these stranded cruisers, or for the dog they adopted here in Oriental because the owners could no longer care for her. However, a network of local citizens, non-profits & agencies have quietly joined efforts to alleviate the situation, & it appears likely Primadonna will be ready to set sail again in a matter of days. Many are concerned about a transatlantic passage this late in the year, but the crew is determined to try to reach their home shores no matter the obstacles, & are hopeful to soon just be on weather watch.
A new engine starter is being installed right now (& thanks to the anonymous donor of a prepaid international cell phone that facilitated the shipment of the part from Germany), & all that is lacking is sufficient food (including that for the canine crew), some gasoline
for the dinghy outboard & diesel for the engine. If anyone would like to assist in wishing these beleaguered cruisers bon voyage, now is the time.
Tempers have run high on this topic, but it is time for productivity, not for more harsh words. Let us work together & solve what so many have perceived as a problem so large that some felt it necessary to call in the federal government. Let us keep this acommunity-based effort, restore our tempers & blood pressures, & pull together so that we can send Primadonna, not on a suicidal voyage, but one in which the crew has a fair chance of making it back to their homeland.
Food items most needed are canned meat, canned dry milk (Nido brand), coffee, cereal,packs of instant noodles, eggs, fruits & vegetables (canned & some fresh), soups, instantpotatoes, & dog food. Toilet paper, paper towels, & Ziploc bags would also be appreciated. Those who can find it in their hearts to assist with either provisions or
contributions toward fuel can either hail the crew from the dinghy dock, or contact me (email@example.com) to arrange delivery.
Dear Town Dock,
Well, I hated to threaten, however, it was more than a month since I wrote to the French Embassy in an attempt to get some assistance for the sailors on board the vessel Primadonna.
Please find the response from the Embassy in Atlanta enclosed. I would suggest that M. Ott and Ms. Christmann do as suggested by their Embassy.
The following is the September 8 and 9 email exchange between Laura Stanbrough of Oriental and the French Consulate in Atlanta.
Dear Ms. Pasquier;
On July 29, 2013, I wrote to your office regarding a French couple who have been living on a derelict vessel in the small town of Oriental, NC.
One has been caught stealing food, they have no income as they have no work visa and the presence of the derelict boat has been the source of much anger and frustration in a town that has been more than generous.
I am pleading with you to assist your countrymen before they’re condition becomes worse.
If I have not heard from the French Embassy regarding this, I will be forced to call United States Immigration in order to remove the vessel and its owners from the harbor. You have one week.
Oriental, NC 28571
On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 10:39 AM, this reply from the French Consulate:
The Consulate cannot intervene on your request.
M. Ott and Mrs Christmann can contact the Consulate and we will do the best to help them.
Consulat général de France
Atlanta, GA 30326
On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 6:38 PM, Laura Stanbrough replied:
Dear Ms Ferrand,
Thank you for your email. I will advise the aforementioned people and the town of your advice.
Laura A.M. Stanbrough
Publisher’s note: Email was confirmed to have been sent from the French Consulate. The French Consulate told TownDock.net that it can’t act on a request from a US citizen. A staffer there said that the Consulate’s function is to attend to requests from French nationals.
To The Editor:
First let me say that I am not against helping others. Over the years my wife and I have helped and continue to help those less fortunate.
Having said that, I am vehemently opposed to enabling. I am sure those folks who are providing material assistance to the crew of Primadonna feel that they are helping and as such get a warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, their assistance has progressed to the enabling stage.
There is positively no reason for the crew of Primadonna to ever leave the confines of the Oriental harbor. Why should they? They pay no taxes, they receive material support from residents that need to have that warm fuzzy feeling and the beat goes on.
For those of you that have visited a state park with a large population of bears, you’ve obviously seen the signs warning not to feed them. There is a reason for this. The bears forget how to fend for themselves, preferring to take handouts from misguided tourists. Problem being, if those handouts slow or stop, then the bears become testy. They steal food, they become aggressive, and if human, they would probably threaten litigation.
Well, we have a boat full of bears in the harbor. Those of you providing material support better keep it up because if you don’t they too will begin to help themselves to whatever they need. Oh, wait, they already did that.
In closing, those of you enabling should start saving now for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc.
To the Editor:
I have followed the take-over of our anchorage for a long time. Like many, I feel hopeless on this situation as well.
But now we have another boat that has no insurance, no means to be moved (bad engine and a mast that will come down some day). The new squatter is the blue Irwin with the white deck. Now with a total of 4 boats (permanently anchored in the anchorage) the town will definitely suffer.
If we have a hurricane, slips, boat and even the Town Dock will be damaged. The owners of these derelict boats do not have and will not have any funds to cover the damages.
Small business revenue will be lost since no cruiser wants to anchor near boats like these.
It is high time for something to be done. This issue affects the town residents, businesses and a reputation that has endured for many years.
I’ve never written a letter to an editor before but wanted to voice my concern.
I have a Catalina 22 that I love to get out on as much as possible but my life was reset with a job loss back in 2012 and I am in financial ruin. I didn’t get rid of my boat. It’s worth more to me sitting in the yard than $1000 that I’ve been offered. Since I’m broke, I have to stay home. It’s the responsible thing to do. If you don’t have money, you stay home.
This gentleman says he had a pension and now it’s denied. That’s no excuse; it’s time to go home and deal with his pension status.
These people have been generously treated by the town. (Correct me if I’m wrong but they’ve been provided with food and money.) Their starter should have been fixed a long time ago and diesel sitting in the tanks.
If they wanted to leave, they would have left. They do not want to. It may be time to get the authorities involved.
I’ve never written anything so crass before, but I love being on the water and people that sail are some of the nicest and most generous people I’ve ever met. Oriental has some of the nicest and most generous people. I try to emulate that.
They should, too.
Moving on is the responsible thing to do. If they are moochers, they need to move on to another area and mooch – but the responsible thing to do is for them to go home.
To The Editor:
In response to Carolyn Howell’s question as to why the crew of Primadonna has not sought employment, she might want to check on the legalities of foreign nationals working without the appropriate work visas, which might be difficult/impossible to obtain.
In spite of the hate mail I’ve been receiving, I’m still curious why our village seems to be developing such a mob mentality about this unfortunate situation. Seems to me we might find better things to do with our time & energies than to harp on Primadonna. There are a lot of needs here in Pamlico County, & if you don’t want to help their crew, I can recommend plenty of other folks, mostly children, who could use assistance.
I have been trying to figure out why after 8 or 9 months two able-bodied individuals have not sought some type of employment to help them obtain the items they need to enable them to return to France.
In regard to Tye Roy’s comments, I am sure these two people were offered help when they first arrived in Oriental. Her situation was not at all like this situation has become. I doubt she would have continued to have received friendly help after hanging around for 8 or 9 months even if she was sick.
To The Editor:
One curious question seems to have been overlooked: What happened to the third person aboard as noted by the Navy ship and the cruise ship?
Investigating that would be a much better use of Homeland Security people than counting cars using the ferries of North Carolina.
I write to you on –
Day 300 of the Oriental Hostage Crisis.
Riots have been cropping up in the towndock.net forum, and though an envoy of local news reporters sought to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the crisis, the hostage-takers stand firm. Their “laissez-faire” blockade continues into it’s 300th day.
The town council remains paralyzed over the situation, wanting to appease the hostages, but unwilling to take forthright action toward the hostage-takers. Will there be one resonant voice who will rise up and utter the historic words: “This will not stand”?
The people of the Free Republic of Oriental plead to the council to take the following actions:
1. With appropriate notice to leave and authority, board each vessel and remove the occupants.
2. Contract with a local boat yard to tow each vessel and impound it to be sold at auction to cover the expenses of removing and transporting the indigents to their rightful homes or care services.
3. For the foreign indigents, take them into custody and deliver them to their appropriate embassy or US authorities for processing. These people obviously need help from their own governmental support network and authorities.
4. Finally, the Town of Oriental has a unique opportunity to draft provisions for reasonable use of the anchorage and enforcement of same, and should do so with accelerated vigor.
After reading the letters of consternation, exasperation, and sympathy towards the wayward squatters, the situation has become ridiculous and has been created by the owners of three boats currently anchored in the harbor. They alone through conscious action, have driven the stand-off to this point.
Were I a business owner in the town, knowing that a significant portion of my high-season revenue stream were being diverted away because of this blockade of squatters, I would be incensed. Has the town council proposed an action plan to address the situation? If not, they should do so without fail.
Allowing that my initial paragraphs were somewhat tongue-in-cheek, this Hostage Crisis has gone on far too long.
The crew of the vessel Primadonna have long ago changed from cruisers to live-aboard moochers. If they have no means of support (as they state) they are mooching. They have a boat in the harbor that is unable to move for various reasons (as they state). They make claims about the circumstances of their arrival in the US that are, at best, questionable on accuracy. They have allowed themselves to get into their current condition. I myself heard them state that they would be leaving soon… A Year Ago! I guess they saw the village as being a willing patsy. Real cruisers don’t do this.
They are responsible for their condition. Why are we expected to continue helping? I agree in helping those that have experienced sudden unexpected misfortune. Sitting around mooching and stealing is neither sudden nor unexpected. This was predictable a year ago.
It’s obvious that the vessel is uninsured. What happens when it drags anchor and destroys other boats or docks? Who will pay? Again, real cruisers do not operate this way. It’s illegal to drive an automobile for this reason. It is being irresponsible, at best.
Getting help when you have an unexpected problem is one thing, but to deliberately drop anchor and begin mooching is another. It now appears that they are trying to threaten the town that they will stay longer if not provided twine, food, and fuel. I guess that’s all one needs to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Oriental is not responsible for this vessel, nor its crew. They are probably now illegal aliens having overstayed their Visas. We should not “enable” this situation any further, but take steps to have the vessel removed from our harbor. It’s obvious that they will mooch forever if given the chance.
I take exception with comparing this vessel to normal “cruisers”. We spend several months/year in the Bahamas and are true cruisers. This is not cruising, so they shouldn’t be labeled as such. We have vagrants in our village that should be dealt with.
To The Editor:
I have just returned from vacation, via France, and am horrified to discover the hostility my Oriental neighbors have shown our visitors on Primadonna.
As a cruiser who also once landed on the shores of our village, I would have expected more compassion from our sailing community. I feel acute embarrassment for the treatment of our visitors. Do we not feel for those sailors less fortunate? Are we so isolated from humanity that we cannot assist those among us in need?
I have visited France several times, and have always been treated well and with respect. I experienced illness last week while in Paris and benefited not only from the helpfulness of several citizens, but from the inexpensive and visitor-friendly French medical system.
I find the calls for deportation and Homeland Security for the crime of hunger to be deplorable. Really? Over a jar of Nutella? Shame on Oriental for our lack of hospitality.
Please let me know how best to deliver food to the hungry crewmembers. If anyone else would like to assist, I’ll be happy to coordinate and pick up items for firstname.lastname@example.org 249-2297; 670-3862
PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG asap.
1. The responsibility of the State of North Carolina is to notify the nearest Maritime Port of Call (Portsmouth, VA) regarding any vessel not officially registered who’s anchored more than 30 days at the same location within any inter-coastal body of water. It is not a local matter, it’s National Security policy.
2. Local law enforcement needs to officially notify the Mayor of Oriental immediately, the Mayor would need to bear witness and notify USCG as to length and times of stay.
3. Any U.S. Coast Guard patrol ( Auxiliary included ), has sufficient cause to board and inspect any vessel flying the US Ensign,or of any nation sovereignty within U.S. waters.
4. If the vessel (“Primadonna”) has no commercial, or registered state boating number, or during inspection, cannot produce evidence of being documented, she can and should be impounded. The skipper, passengers, or crew can be detained individually or as a group by any active officer of the USGC, U.S. Customs, INS, State or county Marine Patrol.
5. The Oriental Police Chief should be on board any USCG or State marine Patrol boat whose sending officers aboard to check for vessel registration and individual pass ports
6. Any previous, current or future good will acts, money, supplies, materials should be recorded and documented.
7. A ship, boat or vessel of international origin can hold a whole town hostage if the townspeople turn a blind eye to their responsibility as American citizens to report “ high seas or port vagrancy. activities……….if the boat has engine trouble (??) and has the ability to sail, if they have not obtained what was needed after nine months to make way then its sealed its own fate.
My recommendation: you immediately give them 24 hours (maximum) to weigh anchor and move on. If they do not …. call closest USGC to escort them 25 miles off shore.
Friendships are fine, however, individuals committed to activities which supported “illegal aliens”, “felons”, “undocumented vessels hauling contraband”, can be held as “aiding and abetting .
Any US Citizen or Oriental townsfolk who’ve made it aboard Primadonna or, who have special knowledge should give it up immediately to local authorities.
Harry A. Jordan US Navy Vet.
Publishers Note: Re #3 listed above, TownDock.net called the US Coast Guard Station in Hobucken and asked if CG Auxiliary can do an unrequested boarding & inspection. Simple answer – No. CG Auxiliary can only do an inspection if it is requested by the vessel.
Dear Town Dock;
I’ve been keeping up with the local brouhaha over the vessel “Primadonna”.
My firm belief is that we have done our level best to assist Mr. Ott and Ms. Christmann in their sailing endeavors, but it has come to the point that they are in need of some assistance from their home country.
Enclosed please find a letter I posted today to the Vice Consul for France (Southeastern area)
Laura A.M. Stanbrough
Ms. Caroline Pasquier
Vice Consul, France
3399 Peachtree Rd. NE Suite 500
Atlanta, GA 30326
Dear Ms. Pasquier;
It has come to the attention of the residents of our small village in North Carolina that two French citizens are residing here in a poor state. Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann sailed across the Atlantic from their home port of Sete, France.
They have been living aboard their vessel anchored in the local harbor for several months, taking up valuable anchoring room for vessels making their way along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Mr. Ott and Ms. Christmann have no ability to sail further or for their home port due to monetary problems and an unseaworthy vessel. Monique has overstayed her visa and both appear to be essentially indigent. The local village and the US Navy have both extended assistance, but with no obvious means of support, this couple has exhausted the resources available to them.
I believe they are in dire need of your support and intervention to continue on their way home.
Laura A.M. Stanbrough
Oriental, NC 28571
As only a frequent visitor to Oriental, (we have a sailboat berthed at Pecan Grove Marina) and not a resident, I may not have the right to an opinion about the circumstances around the anchored sailboat, Primadonna, or the anchorage question in general.
But after reading Towndock’s well-reported and balanced story, I have to express some sadness for the plight of these French visitors.
In reading this very compelling story, I wondered about the backstory — what is their history, what compelled them to set off from their homeland, and what is their goal, if they have one? Like Papillon, perhaps they only wanted to escape something, and they did so with little more than a decrepit boat and a few francs. You have to respect that.
In any case, the issue of the boat overstaying its welcome in the harbor notwithstanding, I have mixed feelings about these seafarers. I suspect everyone will be happy when they’re gone, but when they leave we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to wish them fair winds.
To The Editor:
Thank you for writing an informative and objective report on the visiting Primadona and her residents. The readers of Town Dock are privileged to have an editor willing to report a story with authentic journalism. As a result, we as readers do not have to rely on gossip and hearsay to formulate remedies to the situation of the Primadona.
To the Editor;
Some towns around the country have 30, 60 or 90 day anchor rule that is usually only put to good use when a “Primadonna” boat overstays.
To the Editor:
I have followed with great attention the controversy surrounding the essentially derelict boats anchored in Oriental Harbor. While it’s obvious that a long term solution to eliminate the potential for abuse of the town’s hospitality such as we are now witnessing is essential, in the short term I mystified why we can’t deal with the owners of PRIMADONNA. (Was there ever a more apt name?).
After reading the TownDock.net article about the owners, which I felt was very very fairly reported, it was clear that what we have here are essentially two vagrants, one of which is an illegal alien – who are now unwanted parasites on our community. How can such an individual still be in the US? A call to Homeland Security and the Immigration Service might be in order.
When we wintered our sailboat in Virginia 2 years ago the Virginia county tax assessor was all over us trying to collect tax on our boat, even though it was only there 5 months. The boats anchored in our harbor have been in our county for a very long time – would they not be subject to property tax? If so, let’s hand them a tax bill and collect either the taxes – or the property.
In any case, something needs to been done – and now.
Your interview of the Primadonna crew and your follow up report was, I thought, a very good piece of local journalism.
Good honest reporting from a “herald of the people” seems to be a vanishing practice, so it’s great to see — especially here in Pamlico County.
Thanks for the effort. It is appreciated.
To The Editor:
I wonder if anything can be done? It looks like hand-outs have not worked. They have not brought forth any results, i.e. the cash already given and the free groceries (but apparently lacking coffee and Nutella necessitating theft of such items.)
And now they only need the ball of twine, the 10 gallons of diesel, and the starter motor?
I wonder if tough love might just be the ticket. It is said in our National Parks, “Do not feed the bears. They become dependent on it.”
I’m all for helping fellow sailors, but 8 or 9 months? I suggest we follow whatever legal resources we have available and help these “residents” out to sea.
Looking at the pictures no wonder no other visiting cruisers are putting the anchor down and enjoying our village and its resources.
But, most importantly, please someone in charge of things in Oriental, please do something! 8 or 9 months is really too long.
Wow, what a story.
The only thing I take away from the story is if Oriental does not “help” they will be here another year. I don’t think I ever saw a town pay to get rid of a boat.
Is this how the town is going to manage the anchorage? Then I want to anchor; I need a red Porsche.
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