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Letters: Large Trawlers At New Town Dock
Query: How Will Town Board Respond?
August 4, 2014

riental opened its new Town Dock this spring. It’s near the harbor end of South Avenue and was acquired by the Town in a still controversial 2012 land swap with seafood businessman Chris Fulcher (who got 13,000 square feet of Town right of way in exchange for 5,000 feet of land and pilings for a dock.) This new Town Dock was touted as a place where more visiting boats — cruisers, day sailors, small craft, basically — could tie up for free so their crews to spend time — and money — in town to the benefit of businesses here. It was repeatedly stated then that giving up the rights of way – and a bigger docking area there – and taking the smaller dock space would let all the pleasure craft be at one end of the harbor. But in the past few weeks large fishing trawlers have periodically tied up at that new Town Dock. That’s kept sailboats and power boats — the long-anticipated users of Oriental’s new free Town Dock — from being able to use the space. The most recent incident was this past weekend, when the Gulf Stream III tied up in order to have repair work done from Chris Fulcher’s adjacent yard. Dock lines from the big trawler stretched across the Town Dock obstructing passage for pedestrians. It was tied up there Saturday, and again Sunday evening for more repairs. On Monday and Tuesday the Gulf Stream III was blocking any entrance in to the dock’s south side

This prompts a letter from Oriental resident Steve Snyder, which sparked others.

Dear Editor:

In your article, you state that the dock is for vessels to tie up for free so as to help boost local economy. The past two days a commercial f/v has been tied up making necessary repairs to keep the crew safe (changing outriggers). The crew was from Manteo. Don’t you think these guys spent money in town? I know for a fact they did. They’re gone now, so no need for complaining. And if an ordinance is passed restricting commercial vessels, it need to be all commercial vessels. Any vessel that makes money for its use is commercial.

This county has been my home from birth and will be til death. If you don’t like it down here, go back where you came from.

Joey Bennett

Dear Editor:

I agree the town should pass an ordinance to prohibit commercial vessels from the town dock. But, what if Jim Edwards brings his charter boat full of sailing school kids to the dock? Is that a commercial vessel? Also what is the punishment for a violation?

I once had a discussion with a lobsterman in Maine about moorings. What happens if he returns from fishing to find a pleasure boat tied to his mooring? Who does he call? If there is no one aboard the offending boat, can he cut it free? If not, what are his options?

The same, to a degree, applies here. What can the town do, other than impose a fine, to discourage fishing trawlers from parking at the either dock? Would a $25 fine discourage a captain from docking there if he is burning $25 of fuel every hour he waits for a space at Fulcher’s dock. Something needs to be done, but the issue is not as simple as it seems.

It’s a shame this discussion was not permitted when the land swap was considered.

Doug Sligh

Dear Editor:

I see it didn’t take long for Chris Fulcher to find yet another way to take advantage of the Village of Oriental. Let’s take a look – he gets the Village to trade property that has a “fixer upper” dock for property that significantly increases the value his property, the city fixes and improves the dock at its expense, and then a trawler, probably under his control, uses the newly improved dock that now cannot be used for the purpose that the Village Board justified for the trade.

Whoever is “in charge” should be fired. If this isn’t corrected by the Town Board, they should resign due to incompetence. I realize we have some Board members now that weren’t involved with the original “deal”. So, they have the ability to make this right, but do they have the wisdom, or are they too puppets for Mr. Fulcher? I guess we’ll see.

Steve Snyder
Oriental resident and voter

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