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Letters: On Call To Let Trawling Ships At Town Docks
Intent of Land Swap Raised
September 9, 2014

n early August, Oriental’s Town Board voted 5-0 on a docking ordinance that has the effect of keeping commercial fishing trawlers from tying up at the Town Docks. That vote came after 3 summer weekends during which trawlers used the newest Town Dock. When the pilings for that dock were acquired in the 2012 Chris Fulcher land swap, the future dock was represented as being for recreational vessels. That appeared to inform the Board’s vote to rule out trawlers at the public docks. Then in late August, at the Board’s Agenda meeting, former Mayor Sherrill Styron, who owns one of the seafood plants on the harbor, called on the Board to reverse its early August vote. He wants commercial trawlers to be able to tie up at the Town Docks if they want to. The issue has prompted some letters from readers.


If the Town Manager and Town Board allow Mr. Fulcher use of city docks, that would turn out to be the best deal ever made. Mr Fulcher not only got twice the land he gave up, but now the Town has built him a new dock. Keep in mind that there wasn’t a complete dock at the location of the new town dock. Now that the new dock built and paid for by the town of Oriental, he can’t do without it. Also if he gets permission to park his trawlers at the new Town Dock won’t he be able to park at the original town dock also?

Mr. Styron and Chris Fulcher have been friends forever. Oh by the way, won’t Mr. Styron be able to tie his trawlers at both of the town’s docks also?

Boaters from all over the East Coast pull up the TownDock web site to see what’s going on in Oriental. If they see that the free docks are probably filled up with shrimp trawlers they will keep traveling past Oriental. Besides, who wants to tie up next to a shrimp trawler with their lights and generators running all night long?

The town board and manager needs to keep in mind what the towns people want and not what a couple businessmen want for themselves.


Billy Dixon

For us, the commercial use of the new town dock boils down to reciprocity. If commercial vessels are to be welcomed at the new town dock, do the commercial docks, when space is available, welcome recreational vessels at theirs? Or perhaps there is another expression of mutual benefit, beyond a shared contribution to the local economy?

In the absence of a clear example of specific resource sharing, it seems preferable to support the Board’s vote to restrict use of the new town dock, thus allowing the recreational boaters to develop their vision for the waterfront and town. In the interest of community and the importance of our fishery, however, the Board might consider amending their decision to allow for commercial use in exceptional cases, as Larry Summers suggested.

Edward and Jennifer Ruppert

I am a native of North Carolina and have been visiting Oriental all my life. My family strings from a long line of watermen that like so many others had to move inland for work. Sometimes my family and I drive down and eat ice cream while admiring the vessels tied up at the town dock, walk around and just doing siteseeing, sometimes I dock my sailboat there when visiting for a meal, milk shake or browsing the selections at the Inland Waterway Provision store and creating wishlists maybe picking up more ice, drinks or snacks. I’ve never met a sour puss in the town. Everyone has been kind and gracious to me and my family.

I understand the Gulfstream III makes it’s berth in Wanchese, making that vessel a visitor to Oriental as well (correct me please if my facts are wrong). I have no idea how many meals purchased or rooms rented by her crew while there, I have no idea if Fulchers helped out of the goodness of their heart or billed for services rendered. (Being broke watermen working for wages, they probably ate and slept on the vessel.) But if Gulfstream III was billed, then they contributed to the economy in Oriental.

The Gulfstream III is a big vessel requiring alot of room on a dock. I sit in my office behind my computer during the week and visit towndock.net and look at the webcams everyday. I saw her tied up, I noticed they moved her into one of Fulcher’s slips when it was available. I know Fulcher got the lion share of the land swap deal but a brother waterman needed help and help was given (either willingly or unwillingly by the town).

I can understand this debate if this happens too frequently. If this is an occasional thing, can it be tolerated? Considering the Primadonna and the kindnesses the towns people of Oriental extended to her crew and how the town specially Pat Stockwell was taken advantage of, trying to do a good deed, I can see where this kind of thing could get out of hand. I wish the town of Oriental in figuring out this sticky situation. Thank you all for your continued hospitality and thank you for looking out for the tourists. We appreciate it.

Gregg Tilghman
SV Lilly – Catalina 22
Raleigh, NC

To the Editor:

If commercial trawlers were allowed to use the new Town Dock, the land swap would be rendered pointless, and its intended purpose of luring pleasure boats into the town would be defeated.

We love the commercial trawlers too, because they add a lot of interesting character to Oriental’s harbor, but they already have a lot of docking space.

Vaughan and Linda Taylor
River Dunes

To the Editor:

Am I missing something here? The clear intention of the Town’s land swap with Chris Fulcher was to secure a second Town Dock area to offer increased tie-up space for both transient and local boaters so they can boost our village’s economy by eating in Oriental’s restaurants and shopping in local stores.

The town has spent $59,542 in legal fees to date (public record by way of my call to Town Hall) to fight David Cox’s lawsuits against this 2012 transaction for the purpose of maintaining the privilege of this new dock area, which is a benefit for the entire town.

Why would anyone think that it is acceptable for commercial trawlers, with all the footage they already have for their use within the harbor area, to use the newly renovated dockage space?

Sherrill Styron claims that those opposed to shrimp boats using the new Town Dock are against commercial fishing, which is absolutely not the case. This is a worthy profession that has given our town a rich history and great character. Let’s all get on board what’s good for our village and stop being unfoundedly accusatory.

Jean White

To the Editor:

For at least twenty five years, The Town of Oriental has been studying the waterfront. The first such committee was conducted under, then Mayor of Oriental, Brantley Norman. Because of the long delays we have now missed out, for the third year in a row, on applying for a Boating Infrastructure Grant(BIG) which on Tier 1 is up to $100,000. On Tier 2 it goes up to 1.5 million dollars. The applications for 2015 closed on 28 August 2014.

We have spent a huge amount of time on a number of different proposals for regulations on the utilization of the various town docks We have put onerous new rules on docking at all the docks that are quite confusing even to me. We have not put one element in the regulations that would allow the Town Manager and/or Police Chief to give waivers for special circumstances such as when there is little boating traffic or maintenance problems. The Town Manager always used to be able to give permission under those circumstances.

The paragraph below is an excerpt from a discussion of the derelict boat problem from the Salty Cruiser Net posted on June 26th 2013 by the recently deceased Clairborne Young. It also fits the current situation.

What we have tried to suggest is that whatever actions Oriental, and other North Carolina coastal communities, take, or do not take, any such measures should be carefully thought through, and implemented in such as way as to not injure the Tar Heel state’s thus-far sterling reputation with the cruising community. That goal should be paramount in every NC debate on this issue.

I think that both recreation and commercial vessels should be able to pump out on the “New” town dock. I never anticipated that commercial vessels would want to use the new docks as they rarely used the old dock. My goal was always to have four vessels at a time able to use the new dock. That certainly cannot be done with 80 foot vessels.

On the Oriental Marina side one would also have to be restricted to about 18’ of beam to avoid going over into their space. That being said I believe that we should restrict vessels, utilizing the dock, to 50 feet. That would enable us to have four boats on the new dock at a time.

I would also like to add that the Town Manager should be able, under appropriate circumstances, to approve the use by longer boats and/or Commercial vessels. Those circumstances may be during periods of limited or no use, for reasonable repairs or perhaps for an hour or two stay in the middle of the day.

I have also recommended placing pennants on the docks to identify them as Town of Oriental Docks. The only thing that implies that they are owned by the town are the restriction signs. Neither uninitiated recreational or commercial vessels would know which docks belong to the town.

Larry Summers
Oriental Town Commissioner

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