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Sailboat Sinks Off Oriental
Crew safe after rescue from passing sailboat
June 29, 2008

aturday afternoon a sailboat sank off Oriental. It was not part of the racing taking place on the Neuse River. Catalina 22 sailboat “This Old Boat” had owner Robin Gockley and crew Katy Pugh aboard. Afternoon thunderstorms created strong gusts, and this combined with a reported jammed mainsheet led to the boat getting knocked down, with water then flowing in the companionway. The two were rescued by a boat returning from the racing, “Aquapuncture” and skipper Roger Bates. As well as rescuing sailors Saturday, Roger also placed 2nd in the Oriental Cup Regatta Cruising Class.

The boat sank in approx 4-5 feet of water just off Point Pride Seafood near the breakwater in Oriental
These photos cover a several hour period. The boat was reported to the Coast Guard as sunk at approx 3pm, and after being raised was finally towed away at 8:40pm. The Coast Guard did not respond to the incident as the crew was determined to be safe and it was a salvage job. A brisk onshore breeze made the salvage work more difficult for the TowBoat US crews.

TowBoat US arrived – first the Deaton’s boat (at right), later joined by a TowBoat US craft from Beaufort that was called in for its salvage and diving capabilities.

Listening to the VHF, the TowBoat US crews were overheard discussing placing a bladder inside the boat. That was rejected due to the Catalina 22’s “pop top”, which the crews determined could not withstand the strain. Then the bladder was placed aft and under the boat. It didn’t look like an easy process.

After the bladder was attached and inflated, a pump was put aboard to empty the vessel.

The boat was raised. The men in the water said they were stung repeatedly by sea nettles.

With the sailboat now stable, the TowBoat US craft begins the tow to Deaton’s boatyard.

Towing to the yard – it was almost dark at 8:40pm

Sunday morning the boat was out of the water at Deaton’s. Bill Sternburg was heading over to try and revive the dunked outboard.

Publisher’s Note: Sailing incidents bring out all sorts of village opinions. There will be lots of “they should of…”, but the best comment heard thus far came from Charlie Overcash, who simply said “That could of been me.” This writer indeed has accomplished some impressive boating mishaps over the years, fortunately beyond the sight of town. Combine a jammed sheet for a few seconds and the right instant gust, and that could be any of us.

Posted Sunday June 29, 2008 by Keith N. Smith

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