BEAUFORT — Beaufort commissioners Monday evening approved amendments to ordinances governing the town’s navigable waters, but also opted to seek additional guidance to refine them in the future.

The decision came during town commissioners’ regular session in the Broad Street train depot.

The ordinance has to do with mooring during storm-related emergencies, and states that, “Within 4 hours of a hurricane warning being declared by the National Weather Service, anchored vessels shall not be permitted in any of the navigable waters of the Town of Beaufort except for the Town Creek Harbor of Refuge.

“Vessels in Town Creek during a hurricane warning must be adequately secured by at least two anchors, and all parts and contents of the vessels shall also be adequately secured.”

 According to information staff provided for the meeting, “The recent experience with Hurricane Dorian illustrated the need to amend the Town’s Navigable Waters Ordinance with regard to securing anchored vessels.”

Following Hurricane Dorian in September and last year’s Hurricane Florence, staff expressed concern about boat owners who opted to moor their vessels in Beaufort’s navigable waters. According to the language within the ordinance, “recent Hurricanes Florence and Dorian resulted in boats becoming unsecured from their anchors resulting in damages.”

Monday, Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton specified some of the damages the town sustained. He said the town had at least six vessels that dragged their anchors onto shore on the west side of the town.

“It is problematic,” Mayor Newton said.

As its name implies, the Federal Harbor of Refuge is owned by the federal government and isn’t subject to Beaufort’s ordinances.

“What we cannot do is prohibit folks from anchoring, during a storm, in a harbor of refuge,” Town Manager John Day said. “That’s something we don’t have the authority to do.”

The town does, however, have the authority to manage its own navigable waters, thanks to legislation passed by the state’s General Assembly.

Navigable waters are the waters directly adjacent to the town’s limits.

“This is an effort to try and get…those folks who are going to stay, to get them into one place and make them as secure as they can be,” Mr. Day said. ‘That’s all we’re asking.”

Commissioner Marianna Hollinshed said that pushing boaters looking for refuge into the area might hurt nearby marinas.

“I think it might need to be refined a little bit,” said Ms. Hollinshed, who added that the board should probably put off the decision until their November meeting.

Ms. Hollinshed said that since it’s still hurricane season, if there is an additional storm during the season, the town can always convene in an emergency meeting to discuss the matter.

Commissioner John Hagle asked if there were any ways the town could work with the federal government. Mayor Newton agreed, saying this is something town officials should discuss with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Maybe this is the right time to start that conversation,” Mayor Newton said.

The mayor added they should be cautious if they do plan to postpone the decision.

“We need to let people know what the standard is now, not when we are all trying to pack up for a hurricane,” Mayor Newton said.

He later suggested that, while the current amendment language wasn’t perfect, the town should more forward with it and refine it later. Commissioners Ann Carter agreed and made the suggestion in a motion that was unanimously approved.

The amendment is the most recent in a series of town efforts to better control its navigable waters. In April 2018, the town held a community meeting to gauge how best to go about addressing the number of derelict boats that were anchored throughout the town’s navigable waters. Eventually the town formally expressed its capacity to remove derelict boats in a series of ordinances.

Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.

(12) comments


I think you folks should really be sending them a water bill, too! hahahahahahahaha Just wait till they get that GREAT BIG SEWER BILL , that grows like bamboo , and no explanation why? Also, if they fail to pay to park, you could try this new contraption i saw on TV, it's called The Boat Boot, thats right, for only 109.95, plus shipping you city council members will be the rage of the party when you lock a Boat Boot on these vicious mostly empty inanimate sailboats! [beam]




Since Beaufort is so cool the town must administer stricter ordinances to protect not only the not so historical district but any and all adjacent waters in the surrounding area. The Beaufort Authority also known by common folks as Town Commissioners want to keep derelict boats and people out of Taylors Creek and away from any marina that these derelicts might damage. Basically keep the deplorables out of sight of the privileged inhabitants of very cool and exclusive town. It's the only way to keep cool.


Mayor Newton has zero experience with boats. Despite growing up in Beaufort, and spending most of his adult life away from Carteret, he hasn't a clue about securing a vessel against a storm. We anchored our 25 foot cruiser in Taylors Creek for every hurricane since before 1960, without a problem. Neither the vessel or the neighbors sustained damage. I think it best for the Coast Guard to handle proper securing of vessels in advance of hurricanes. Not the politicians who always think they know everything.

David Collins

If Osprey wants to call owners of derelict boats deplorable than he is quite correct, if only by definition of derelict. If you have the right to use Taylor’s Creek as a refuge, you then have the obligation to ensure that your boat is sound enough and secured properly so that it is not a danger to life, limb and property. No mention of all peril insurance on said boat, with adequate liability to cover any damage said boat should cause. Crazy not to have it in these times. Coast Guard should not be involved. Not their sandbox. It is about personal responsibility and accountability, that’s all.


I believe the Beaufort Authority (Town Commissioners) have secured the jurisdiction of Taylors Creek. The Authority has already made it be known local "derelicts" cannot use it for safe harbor or moor anything the less than expensive yachts there. It is Town Creek where the Authority is trying to extend its reach. Is that correct Carteret Is Corrupt ?

Sorry If I offend anyone who owns "derelict" vessels, I own 3 myself all of which are very practical under $100K type boats. 17' BW Montauk, and 2 13'BW sport models.


I have never understood how government can own the ocean or its contents. Nor how a group of august idiots can rule they have power over a body of water. The ruling class have become very intrusive with their ideals and mandates. Then of course we have the local effort to push out the "deplorables", by any manner possible.


I didn't mean that the Coast Guard secure the vessels, rather that they make the call on proper securement of any given vessel. They would certainly know more about this than any of the commissioners or their ilk.

David Collins

Nope, the Coast Guard making “the call” puts them in the chain of liability should things take a turn for the worst. Never forget there is always a legal beagle out there that wants to win big for you. Unsure, haul it out. They do it every day.


The Coast Guard would certainly have soverign immunity, you cannot sue without the permission of the Federal Government. Look it up.


A mariner has the natural right to seek harbor of refuge in a storm, Beaufort cannot regulate that, should not, and has no moral basis to do so.

David Collins

Yes, I have read the very same thing. Strangely people and organizations sue the Feds most every day and some win some crazy rulings. Bad press is a career limiting force for an active duty service member. Embarrassing the brass is never good for retirement aspirations. Harbor of refuge, yeah I get it. Forget about moral justice and all that ruck. It is about liability. It is about some slob basically dumping an unsound craft that breaks loose because the slob moored it with 100 pound fishing line just before returning to Jacks to ride out the storm.

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