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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.

Arrested Departure
July 24, 2013
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f a naval vessel hadn’t given “Primadonna”‘s crew a chart of Norfolk and a few gallons of diesel, she wouldn’t be anchored in Oriental – or involved in a local controversy. The red steel vessel has been moored in the public anchorage longer than most visiting boats. This has put her crew at odds with some Oriental residents and visiting boaters.

One crew member even had to appear in Pamlico County municipal court after having been arrested for shoplifting at a local grocery store.

Sailing aboard Primadonna are Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann. The couple and their vessel are facing increasing pressure to leave Oriental. Pascal say all that’s keeping their steel sailboat in town is 10 gallons of diesel, a starter motor and “twenty dollars’ worth of sailing twine”.

With that, he says, they could sail home to France.

Primadonna. Living aboard are Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann. For months, the french steel ketch has occupied the same spot in the Oriental anchorage.
Pascal with the blade of his Aries wind vane – minus a chunk out of its tip. The Aries steering gear uses the wind to keep Primadonna on course under sail. The blade – which is deployed in the water when the vane is in use – was attacked by large shark.
Monique Christmann, Pascal’s sailing partner. She enjoys traveling aboard Primadonna but finds Pascal’s other boat – which is in Sète, France – smaller and easier to handle. Sète is Primadonna’s home port.

( Publisher’s note: The following story… is Pascal’s story. Pascal’s account may not mesh with published Coast Guard reports. According to a passport stamp, the date of his arrival in Norfolk was in September, one month before Hurricane Sandy. )

It started with a storm. Pascal says late 2012 found Primadonna sailing up the Atlantic seaboard, off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia. She was on her latest passage on a voyage that had begun in her homeport of Sète, France, and stretched to Africa and St Martin. From the Caribbean, she had visited Bermuda and was now sailing for New York.

One day, the wind rose and the seas grew high. Very high. Pascal says the storm struck him as being stronger than usual. Then he heard a distress call. It was the “Bounty”, the replica of the British sailing vessel of the same name. She was sinking.

Primadonna was being overtaken by Hurricane Sandy.

Over the radio, he heard a rescue operation was in progress. Pascal calculated the sinking vessel’s position. It was close by. Near enough, he says, that he was ready to render assistance.

Pascal says this was Primadonna’s position during her encounter with Hurricane Sandy and the Bounty.

A helicopter approached Primadonna. Pascal offered to help with the rescue. He was told that, no, his assistance was not needed. So Pascal carried on, managing his vessel as best he could in conditions that had sunk the much larger vessel.

That night, Pascal says, over the stormy seas, he saw something unusual. He called the rescue operation. Told them, “I see a bright red light in the sky.” He says rescuers didn’t take him seriously. He says he repeated what he was seeing, adding, “I know dolphin don’t play with fireworks. I know fish don’t play with fireworks.”

He guessed he was seeing flares set off by the crew of the Bounty.

He says the next day the Coast Guard returned to the area and picked up additional crew members found in the water.

The day after Primadonna weathered the hurricane, the wind died. Vessel and crew were becalmed at sea. Pascal says in advance of the Hurricane Sandy, the Navy had sent much of its fleet to sea. Now, they were all around him. There were so many ships surrounding him, he say it looked like a “naval maneuver”.

Pascal was contacted by one of the vessels. They told him he had to leave the area.

He told them he could not. There was no wind.

They told him to start his engine.

He countered he did not have enough fuel to make it to shore. Or a chart to make the nearest harbor – Norfolk.

He was, after all, New York bound.

In the end, the military filled his tank with diesel and gave him a chart of Norfolk.

The navigational chart Pascal says he was given.

Pascal started his engine and arrived two days later in Norfolk. He tied up to a pier and cleared in with Customs and Immigration. Then, Pascal says he made his way down the East Coast. In the autumn of 2012 he arrived in Oriental.

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Posted Wednesday July 24, 2013 by Bernie Harberts

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