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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Once Again
Rebound of a Core Sounder
April 11, 2013

he heavy fiberglass clinging to “Once Again”‘s hull and decks is thick but it doesn’t entirely hide her roots. Recently, the rough-and-ready 30-footer visited the Town Dock, where owner Dave Tompkins says she received lots of attention. “I’ve had lots of guys come up to me and say, ‘Hey, that’s a Core Sounder, right?‘”

Those admirers would be correct.

Once Again. A previous owner sheathed her hull in fiberglass, but the traditional boat comes through. Dave Tompkins says Once Again was built of juniper – also known as Atlantic white cedar – because it was rot resistant. Decades after the boat was built, that juniper is still aromatic. “When I drill a hole in it,” Dave says, “it’s like you can smell the tree coming out.”
Dave Tompkins

“Once Again” started life as a work boat. She was built in the late 1940’s-early 1950’s on Harkers Island and has the distinct look of boats built in those parts of the Core Sound – round transom, high sheer at the bow and a long, low cockpit. Those are the recognizable characteristics of the “Core Sounder”.

Early on, this Core Sounder was used for crabbing and oystering. She was bought and sold and bought and sold over the decades. The wooden boat suffered the fate of most craft. Time took its toll.

When Dave Tompkins found her in Swan Quarter, the workboat had eased in to decay. “She was about to go down,” he says. “The locals were keeping her afloat.” He bought the vessel with no name and brought her home to Chatham County. In 2006, he began rebuilding her.

Once Again being loaded onto a trailer in Swan Quarter. She was heading inland, to Dave’s home for repair. He estimates she weighs 12,000 pounds. Photo: Dave Tompkins
A few years and repairs later, she still looks very much the work boat. Like most Core Sounders, she has low free board. That’s intentional; it makes it easier to handle traps and nets, which would be deployed and retrieved over the side.
A closer look at the rounded stern.

In rebuilding his craft, Dave focused on functionality.

He rebuilt the cockpit and lengthened the cabin house. He replaced the old engine with a Perkins 236 that he’d found outside a grocery store in Swan Quarter. Instead of exotic woods and finishes, he stuck to the basics – paint, varnish, pine and juniper. The wheel inside the cabin relies on rope, not cables or hydraulic lines, to turn the rudder.

He did make one major addition. He added something the boat had been missing for half a century. Dave says his boat, “never had a name, just numbers. So I named her “Once Again” – because now she has a second chance.”

Then he went boating.

Dual steering: Once Again can be steered with a tiller in the cockpit or with this wheel in the pilot house. A length of line, wound around a wood drum, moves the rudder when the wheel is turned.

Dave uses “Once Again” mostly for short jaunts. Joining him on his Oriental visit was friend Matt McDiarmid. Matt knew the boat; he’d helped Dave install that diesel engine.

Though Dave would like to cruise “Once Again” to Boston, to visit his son, he usually sticks closer to home. This current trip, he started out in Swan Quarter, made his way down the Pamlico Sound to Oriental and was headed toward New Bern after that. Then it’s back to Swan Quarter.

His wife, Dave says, “said I have to be back Saturday for a wedding.”

Posted Thursday April 11, 2013 by Bernie Harberts

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