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Letters: Overstaying Welcome In Anchorage
No Time Limit Keeping More Visitors Away?
June 5, 2013


None of the writers have yet mentioned that out-of-state (or out-of-country) boats may remain in NC waters for 90 days; after that, they must pay sales and use tax to the state (maximum $1500 currently) and may also have to register the boat in NC as well.

If the transient boaters are aware of an impending charge, they may move on, but they would have to move out of NC waters and certainly out of Oriental harbors.

Sandy Donaldson

To the Editor:

The letters about the boats in the harbor are interesting. There are, I think, two crucial points that the writers have missed. The water five feet from the shore-line, belongs to the State of North Carolina, not the Town. The only control the Town has over the harbor is the Town Dock. We learned that several years ago over a boat kerfuffle the Town experienced when a small boat was acquired by the police department.

The other point is that there’s a Federal channel there also. So there are several government agencies that are ultimately responsible for patrolling the anchorage.

On a lighter note, there are several nice anchoring places on the other side of the bridge with dinghy accesses at the Wild Life ramp and the kayak ramp. The walk is a little further to town, but the sunsets are wonderful and it’s protected in case of storms. It’s just that the tall masts won’t fit under the bridge.

Candy Bohmert

As a property owner and fan of Oriental for the past 15 years, I’m following the ‘crowded’ anchorage issue with interest.

Apparently, according to the letters, many vessels by-pass us due to our tiny anchorage as referenced by Mr. Easby-Smith in his letter.
What hasn’t been mentioned is that our tiny harbor is a result of the development of Oriental Marina Harbor several years ago which was permitted by CAMA and presumably blessed by the town of Oriental.

From an economic development standpoint I’m sure it was a good decision for the town, but the development of the marina has taken up precious anchorage space and given our public waters to a for-profit entity in exchange for business/tax revenue. So, we have created this problem.

There are plenty of slips available in the marina, you just have to pay for them. That was the plan, right?

John Buck
Chapel Hill/Oriental

To the Editor:

As a boater, I have been reading with interest the comments by cruisers regarding the issues with the Oriental harbor. All of these letters have been well written and expressed genuine concerns.

What puzzles me is why nobody is addressing the pollution issue. There are no public restrooms in the harbor, no pump out facility in the harbor, and while some of these boats may have holding tanks, it is quite obvious that the boats are not leaving to visit a pump-out facility.

So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine where all that human waste is going.

Compounding the problem, we have no lunar tide here to periodically flush the harbor (no pun intended).

Do the downtown businesses and residents really want the harbor to become a large, putrid, septic tank? That’s something to think about the next time you’re enjoying a fine meal at the Toucan, or your children are dangling their feet in the water at the end of the Town Dock.

Ed Duer
Pamlico County

To The Editor:

We bought our Peterson 44 sailboat at Sailcraft Marina five years ago and have since cruised up and down the East Coast, and the eastern and western Caribbean. We make a point of hauling at Sailcraft Services every couple of years because we like the yard and the town of Oriental so much.

As many of your readers know, Whittaker Creek has shallow spots that make it difficult for us to get in with our 6.5’ draft. We deal with this problem by waiting in the anchorage for the winds to blow out of the north for a couple of days, raising the water level enough for us to get in without plowing too much of a channel with our keel. We time our departure from Whittaker Creek the same way.

This brings us to the subject of the anchorage and Town Dock. This year was typical for us. The Town Dock had two boats tied to it (first come, first serve, no problem). However, the same two boats were there when we left several days later, and this happened last year when we were here, despite the posted time limit.

The inner anchorage was pretty crowded and a little tight for us, so we anchored just outside the breakwater, as we have several times in the past, where there is 8 foot depth and enough swing room and good holding for perhaps three boats of our size . It is a short dinghy ride to your great downtown area— entirely satisfactory.

No harbor should have derelict boats. We would support enforcing a short time limit at the town dock and a longer limit in the harbor anchorage. If Whittaker Creek were dredged another foot, deeper draft vessels such as ours would not have to take up any space in the harbor.
Oriental is probably the most “friendly to cruisers” town of any place we’ve been. We’re hooked on Sailcraft Services and Oriental.

Best Regards,
Bill Raley and Heidi Berger

To The Editor:

My name is Dan Tonner, I am also a cruiser for the past 25 years, having visited your lovely town on many different occasions — several times staying in your local marinas and once at your Town Dock. I also cruise up and down the ICW en-route to Florida and the islands at least twice a year.

Many points that Mr. Russell Easby-Smith makes are valid and reflect my own views. I can tell you from my own experience that I have by-passed Oriental during the past 5 years as a direct result of a lack of space in your anchorage and the view that it was becoming a dumping ground for abandoned boats. I’ve elected instead to take an additional 4 hours and sail across the Sound to “Better” and cleaner anchorages.

I find this a shame and really miss my time in Oriental, Here’s hoping your locals can find a way to re-polish a once sparkling reputation.

Dan Tonner
Neptune, NJ

To The Editor:

Most years we are cruising for seven months, so I’d like to comment on the “state of our anchorage”.

When you enter a new anchorage and drop the hook, that becomes your new “neighborhood”. The other boats are your new neighbors. Cruisers are leery about where they anchor for this reason.

It’s not just the crowded issue. Another concern of cruisers is what happens when there is a problem. In thunderstorms it is not uncommon for boats to drag anchor. This can cause damage to other boats and even docks.

Cruisers always question if boats that appear to be poorly maintained have insurance. So, if there is a problem caused by an uninsured vessel, guess who ends up paying? These are some of the issues that will affect who will anchor in our harbor…or should I say, “our neighborhood” in it’s current state.

Steve Snyder

(Russell Easby-Smith, a cruiser and twice-a-year visitor to Oriental, wrote a Guest Column on the subject, springboarding from Gil Fontes’ earlier letter. Here is the opening of that June 3 Guest Column.)

Oriental is not my town. I don’t live there, so I restrain myself when it comes to your local politics. I visit often, typically twice per year, in spring on my way south and in fall on my way north, as I have for a decade. I feel at home in Oriental and several locals know me by name. But the letter written by Gil Fontes which prompted me to write makes me think perhaps I shouldn’t be so quiet on local politics – perhaps the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina” would be interested in the perspective of a full-time cruiser who frequently passes through.

Anchoring limits are a touchy subject with cruisers. Most of us have the all too recent memories of issues in Florida with anchoring bans which had to be fought (and won) in court. Time limits can often evoke fears that the next step is an outright ban. They evoke the idea that cruisers are unwelcome.

But, the flip side, as any ICW cruiser can tell you, is the sight in Georgetown South Carolina — an anchorage full of derelict boats that have not moved in years. I know many cruisers who will not even stop there because the anchorage is so full of these things.

So, balance is key here.

(To see all of the Guest Column with its proposed solution, click here.)

To The Editor:

Today I had an enjoyable chat with a sailor, who had tied his big Cape Dory to the Town Dock for a day.

He was telling me how interested he was in the town and how friendly everyone had been.

As our conversation was ending another town resident asked the sailor why, if he liked the town so much, he did not choose to stay longer. “Why not just anchor out in the Harbor for a few days ?

The sailor replied, “I can’t anchor here. You have unattended, derelict boats out there.”

To be honest, I was embarrassed.

Gil Fontes

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