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Have You Seen Primadonna?
Pat Stockwell Would Like To Know "Where's Pascal?"
December 8, 2013

F
or a year, the sailboat Primadonna was a constant presence in Oriental’s harbor, something that many wanted to see gone.

primadonna oriental anchorage pascal ott
Have you seen this boat? The SV Primadonna spent a year in Oriental’s harbor before being towed to Morehead City on November 12. While most in town were glad to see her go, one local man needs to know where the boat is now in order to get restitution in a bad check scam.

Yet while much of Oriental is glad to no longer be looking at the Primadonna, one man is asking for people in other waterside towns between here and Martinique to keep their eyes peeled for the boat.

A Citizen’s APB for Primadonna and Pascal Ott

Pat Stockwell says that he’s hoping “somebody who knows somebody” will come forward and tell him where to find Primadonna and her French crew of Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann. He needs to know their whereabouts so that he can take another step toward getting the $2,480 that he says Ott owes him from a bad check scheme.

Pat Stockwell is the marine store manager in Oriental who co-endorsed a $2,980.42 check for Pascal Ott in late September, only to learn a day later that the check was a fraud. Despite Stockwell notifying Ott right away that the check was bad and he needed the money back, Ott kept most of the funds to himself. He gave Stockwell $500 a few weeks later and promised the rest would be coming from France. It never did.

primadonna pascal ott monique christmann
The French crew of Primadonna. Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann and their dog aboard their dinghy, Axe Mornin. This photo was taken in Oriental harbor in early October as news was breaking about the bogus check scam in which Pat Stockwell co-endorsed a check for Ott and ended up having to pay the bank $2,980 when the check turned out to be counterfeit. To continue the small claims court case, Stockwell is asking the public for help in finding Ott so that he can be served with court papers.

Pat Stockwell tried to get Oriental’s police to file criminal charges – on the grounds that even if Ott hadn’t known the check was bad, he could have given Stockwell all the money back that day after the check was cashed. Weeks passed before Stockwell heard from the county prosecutor’s office in Bayboro that no charges would be filed. He says he was told the Oriental police couldn’t legally establish that Ott had “intent” to commit fraud.

Stockwell’s only recourse then, was to file a small claims court case against Pascal Ott, which he did in early November. On Monday, November 11, a representative of Pamlico County’s Sheriff’s Department served a summons to Pascal Ott, who was on board his sailboat, Primadonna, at what had become its long-term anchoring spot in Oriental’s harbor.

The summons notified Ott of a court date the following week – on Tuesday November 19 – at the courthouse in Bayboro, to respond to Stockwell’s complaint that Ott owed Stockwell the remaining $2,480.42.

A day after receiving that notification, Pascal Ott and his crewmate, Monique Christman and their boat, Primadonna, were towed out of Oriental’s anchorage by Martijn Dijkstra’s sailboat, Prinses Mia. The towing ended in Morehead City where Primadonna picked up a mooring in view of the Sanitary Restaurant’s webcam.

primadonna oriental anchoragepascal ott
The SV Primadonna on a mooring it picked up on November 12 in Morehead City. The faded red steel boat has a raked back aft mast. Its owner, French citizen Pascal Ott claims the boat is registered in Delaware though no port of call is listed on the hull. A French flag flies from the stays at times. Primadonna spent a year in Oriental’s harbor before being towed to Morehead City. One local man is asking for leads on where the boat is now in order to get restitution after co-endorsing a bad check for Pascal Ott .

The following Tuesday, Pat Stockwell appeared before judge Grant Becker in a hearing at the Pamlico County Courthhouse building in Bayboro. He told the story of helping Pascal Ott with the cashing of the check, of learning within a day that it was counterfeit, of immediately going out to Ott’s boat to say he needed the money back, of being ignored and getting only $500 back.

Ott did not appear in court that day, nor did anyone appear on his behalf. The judge ruled in Pat Stockwell’s favor, that Ott was to pay him back the $2,480.42 plus the $126 in court costs that Pat Stockwell had incurred. The judgment stands for 10 years.

The way the system worked, Judge Becker explained, Ott would have 10 (working) days to appeal that ruling. In court that day, Stockwell told the judge that with Ott’s boat already in Morehead, there was concern he could leave the country before those ten days were up. The judge said there was no way to speed up the process. As it turned out, Ott did not file an appeal and his boat was gone within the 10 days.

Since no appeal was filed, the next step calls for Stockwell to ask – and pay another court fee – for the Sheriff’s Department to serve Ott with what is called a Notice of Right To Exempt Property.

primadonna court pat stockwell
Pat Stockwell outside the Pamlico County Courthouse on November 19 after winning his first round in small claims court against Pascal Ott. To have a chance of getting his money back, Stockwell now has to figure out where Ott is. He’s asking for the public’s help.

Once served with that, say court staffers, Ott would have 20 days to ask that some or all of his property not be subject to being seized as payment. It’s up to a court to decide what can be exempted. After 20 days, Pat Stockwell could then ask authorities to seize the property that was not exempted.

All of which is theoretical right now because the SV Primadonna’s whereabouts are unknown.

As Pat Stockwell says he has learned, the small claims court system is set up for people living on land, where both the plaintiff and the respondent have legal addresses making for a relative ease in notifying the respondent.

“Where’s Pascal?”

The small claims system is less geared for circumstances where one party lives on a boat. For instance, Stockwell says it’s up to him to provide court authorities with an address for Pascal Ott in order to have the latest court papers served on him. Pat Stockwell’s problem is that he doesn’t know where Ott and his boat, Primadonna, are right now.

Primadonna was last seen at the Morehead City mooring – not far from the Sanitary Restaurant – around November 18th. Stockwell says he’s now stuck “playing a guessing game of ‘Where’s Pascal?’”

On The ICW? Out To Sea? Off To Martinique? In A Boatyard?

It’s not known if Primadonna has gone to a boat yard to fix its engine. (For a year, the French crew had cited “engine trouble” as the reason it wouldn’t leave Oriental’s harbor.) Another possibility is that the engine was at last fixed and Ott and Christmann are motoring down the ICW. Or, as Stockwell notes, the engine may have gone unrepaired, and the crew and boat received another tow or just “floated out the Beaufort Inlet” and are sailing toward their once-stated destination of Martinique.

Stockwell: Big Disappointment

The past two months have been frustrating ones for Pat Stockwell. He had earlier been friendly towards Ott and helped him in various ways before co-endorsing what turned out to be a fraudulent check. Stockwell also says he thought that law enforcement would be able to prosecute Ott on the grounds that he was told within a day that the check was fraudulent and yet didn’t give back the money.

In the absence of charges, Stockwell’s only remaining recourse was through the civil court system — and at additional cost to himself.

Had he known sooner that law enforcement would not be able to prosecute Ott, Stockwell says he’d have filed his small claims case sooner. Stockwell says he wants to make clear that he has nothing against the towing of the Primadonna, recognizing that for many, having the boat gone was a benefit to town. Rather, Stockwell says he could have gotten his civil case before the judge sooner, before Primadonna was towed, which might have made the boat easier to find for this next stage of the case.

A soft-spoken man, Pat Stockwell says he is “disgusted” that it’s been so hard to get Ott to pay what he owes. As someone who helped out Ott and Christmann long before the bogus check incident, Stockwell now says he would be content to see Primadonna “cut apart in a yard” if that’s what it took for Ott to pay him back the $2,480 plus court costs.

Seeking Help Along The Waterfront

That’s why Pat Stockwell is now seeking the public’s help. He’s asking that if anyone’s seen a steel boat, last known to have faded red paint, with French and US flags flying, or if they’ve seen Primadonna’s crew of two French citizens, Monique Christmann or Pascal Ott and their dog, to please contact him. He’s asking boaters to pass along the word to others who are near the waterway to keep an eye out.

Pat Stockwell would like to know where they are so that authorities can serve them the papers. Two weeks after their last sighting in Morehead City, the boat and its crew may well be out of NC waters, but Stockwell says he’s been told that law enforcement in other states can serve the papers on them there.

Those with leads may contact Pat at iwpc@dockline.net

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Posted Sunday December 8, 2013 by Melinda Penkava