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November 12, 2013
Primadonna has left Oriental.Primadonna and her French crew of Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann depart Oriental’s harbor under tow from the Dutch-flagged sailboat, Prinses Mia.
The French crew, Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann, who’ve been in Oriental’s harbor for a year this month, pulled up anchor a few minutes past 7 Tuesday morning. Seconds later, a tow line from the Dutch boat, Prinses Mia, pulled taut and began Primadonna’s journey out of Oriental’s anchorage toward Morehead City.The anchorage at Oriental’s harbor, about ten minutes after the sun rose (on the other side of the roofless building.) The straighter of Primadonna’s two masts casts a reflection to port.Primadonna, in her last ten minutes in Oriental’s anchorage, awaiting a tow from Martijn Dijkstra’s sailboat, Prinses Mia.
In the view of many, Primadonna and crew overstayed their time in Oriental. The boat became a flashpoint in the controversy of boats homesteading in Oriental’s public anchorage. There are three other boats also taking the most protected spaces and deepest water in the anchorage. That has had the effect of keeping cruisers from using it as much as they have in past years.
Primadonna’s crew told TownDock.net’s Shipping News in July that they only needed a new engine starter, a ball of sailing twine and some diesel to leave. But months came and went – and donations continued – and still Primadonna stayed at its spot just off of OYC.
Enter the Prinses Mia, a steel boat flying a Dutch flag which arrived in Oriental a few days ago. While this has been the Prinses Mia’s first visit to Oriental, her captain is no stranger to town. Martijn Dijkstra has visited Oriental often in the past half decade on board his previous boat, Rotop. When he got to Oriental this past weekend and saw the situation in the anchorage that was once a place for many visiting boats, he spoke with Ott and Christmann and offered to tow Primadonna away. News of the imminent tow was enthusiastically received in much of Oriental on Sunday and Monday.The Dutch-flagged sailboat, Prinses Mia motors toward the spot in the anchorage where Primadonna has anchored since the winter.One of the two anchor chains and lines that held Primadonna in place in the Oriental anchorage since the winter. (The boat had arrived in the harbor last November and stayed at the Town Dock for a period and then anchored elsewhere in the anchorage. It has occupied this spot since the winter.)
Beyond the homesteading in the anchorage, Primadonna’s crew wore out their Oriental welcome in other ways. There was a shoplifting incident. Reports of panhandling in front of various businesses. At least one visa appeared to be expired. Then, in the past month and a half, there was the bogus check incident.
As reported here, Primadonna’s captain, Pascal Ott, had asked the manager of a local store to co-endorse a check for $2,980 in late September. Pat Stockwell says Ott told him he received the check for selling a roller furler on Craig’s List. A day after Pat Stockwell co-endorsed that check, the bank informed him that the check was fraudulent and he would have to pay the bank the full amount. Stockwell repeatedly asked Ott for the money back. When Oriental police began asking questions a few weeks later, Ott gave Stockwell $500 and a promise that more money would be sent from France. It never came through.
Pat Stockwell is still owed $2,480. His efforts to get Oriental Police to charge Ott came up empty – police are said to have found no ‘intent’ to deceive. With no criminal charges brought against Ott, Pat Stockwell last week filed papers in small claims court against Ott, seeking the money back. A representative of the Pamlico Sheriff’s Department served the papers yesterday.Pascal Ott, captain of Primadonna, tosses a tow line to the crew on Prinses Mia, captain Martijn Dijkstra and Mike Anderson.
Should the court process fail to bring restitution to Pat Stockwell, there are several people who have suggested raising funds on his behalf.
As for the anchorage issue, Oriental would have to get a local law passed in the NC Legislature in order to get jurisdiction over the harbor. From that would come the ability to impose time limits on boat stays. The General Assembly convenes in May. Meanwhile, there is another move by a town committeee to ban boats from the dinghy dock in the overnight hours. The Town already has jurisdiction there andthe target would be dinghies that are tenders to homesteading boats using the anchorage as a storage space. One or two such dinghies have seemed to be permanently tied to the dinghy dock.
(More photos ahead.)