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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 9:01 am

BEAUFORT — Town commissioners tabled a decision Monday that would have required owners of boats anchored in Taylors Creek, Gallants Channel and Town Creek Basin to register their vessels with the Beaufort Police Department and remove them prior to the arrival of a hurricane or tropical storm.

The purpose of the ordinance is to prevent the boats from pulling anchor during storms and crashing into other vessels or docks.

But despite the town’s best intentions, the proposal received mainly negative comments from boaters who attended the town board’s regular monthly meeting, held in the train depot on Broad Street. On a motion by Commissioner John Hagle, the town decided to recess the meeting until 4 p.m. Aug. 28, where the item will return for discussion.

The ordinance states that the owner of a vessel anchored in one of those three areas is required to remove it within 12 hours following the issuance of a hurricane watch or warning. If the owner has not removed the vessel within the time period, the ordinance would give the mayor authority to direct the Beaufort Police Department to remove it. If the police department cannot arrange to have the vessel removed from the water, it would have the authority to tow it to another body of water and anchor it in a manner that, should it become detached from its mooring, wouldn’t harm other property.

The owner would have to pay any costs incurred by the town for towing and storing to get the vessel back.

The ordinance also requires all vessels anchored in Taylors Creek, Gallants Channel and Town Creek Basin for more than 48 hours to be registered with the police department within 12 hours of entry into the waterway. This would give the police department a means to contact the owner to notify them they have to move prior to the arrival of a hurricane. The department would also be able to affix a notice to a vessel if officers cannot directly reach the owner.

Vessels anchored in the waterways must have a minimum of $50,000 liability insurance coverage, which is required to complete registration.

The registration requirements would only apply between June 1 and Nov. 30 each year. Violators of the ordinance could be fined up to $500 a day.

Mayor Richard Stanley said he suggested the town come up with a proposal a few weeks ago. Currently, the mayor said, the town has no idea who even owns some of the vessels in those waterways.

Some boats in Taylors Creek are without engines and appear inoperable, while several boats in Town Creek are partly submerged.

Town attorney Neil Whitford said the commissioners might have to change language in the ordinance regarding Town Creek, as part of it is a Harbor of Refuge. He suggested adding another section that exempted vessels in Town Creek as long as they are properly secured.

But boaters in attendance weren’t behind the proposal. Ryan Neve, who serves on the town’s planning board, said he can understand the motivation behind the ordinance, but aspects of it, he added, “seem unworkable or maybe shortsighted.”

He said the registration requirements would come off as unfriendly for a town that depends on tourism, equating it to making drivers show their car insurance, and questioned where people should move their boats.

He suggested the town instead regulate moorings where vessels could be secured, which Mr. Stanley said was the town’s ultimate goal.

Doug Doubleday, a town resident who serves as the chairman of the planning board, said he had not previously heard about the ordinance and couldn’t believe what was being proposed. “It’s almost like I’m in a dream,” he said.

He agreed with the points made by Mr. Neve and said boaters were more concerned about their vessels than the town because, for many, it’s their home.

“It would be perceived as very unfriendly by boaters,” he said.

He also said that if a boat like the Wolf, a 74-foot schooner that visited the town during the Beaufort Pirate Invasion, was given 15 hours to move due to a hurricane, it wouldn’t have anywhere to go.

Commissioner Charles McDonald also questioned whether the police department would be able to fulfill the ordinance’s requirements. Police Chief Steve Lewis said he would likely require more manpower and training. “It would put some stress on us,” he said.

Town manager Charles Burgess added that a private contractor would likely assist.

But the ordinance wasn’t without its fans. Steve Tulevich said he has been the owner/operator of Town Creek Marina for 16 years and during that time has lived through 18 named storms. “I’ve been through a lot and seen a lot,” he said, adding that when Hurricane Bonnie hit the county in 1998, he videotaped 14 boats that had pulled anchor and washed up on shore.

“It is a serious problem and it needs to be addressed, and I think this is a start,” Mr. Tulevich said.

Capt. Lee Sykes, the owner of TowBoatUS, also said the town had to take action. “All this is is structure,” Capt. Sykes said. The problem, he said, is not so much with transient boaters, but with “local” boats that are anchored in the waterways.

Capt. Horatio Sinbad, one of the town’s more recognized boaters, also attended the meeting and said he was shocked by the proposal. “I’m just aghast,” he said.

“This is a marine community,” he told commissioners. “I need you to think on that very, very carefully.”

Capt. Sinbad said the town should instead go after the people whose vessels have sunk and been abandoned in the waterways. Capt. Sykes said his company is offering its services to remove submerged boats free of charge.

Commissioner Ann Carter said she had some “real problems” with the proposal, especially the registration requirement, as she believed it would scare people away.

Rather than intimidating visiting boaters, she said the town should address those boats that are in the waterways permanently.

Mr. Stanley, however, said the town hasn’t been able to find the owners of some of those boats.

Mr. McDonald made a motion to table the item indefinitely so it could be studied further, and Ms. Carter agreed. “We need to let the boating community have some input in this,” she said.

But as the hurricane season reaches its peak, others on the board wanted to see some kind of action taken before the next storm strikes. “This is not something that can wait,” said Mr. Stanley. He asked Mr. McDonald to amend his motion to table it until Aug. 28, but the commissioner wouldn’t do so. The motion then failed 2-3, with Mr. McDonald and Ms. Carter voting in favor and commissioners Marianna Hollinshed, John Hagle and Robert Campbell voting against.

Mr. Hagle then made a motion to bring it back to the board on Aug. 28, which passed unanimously. The board created a small committee, which included Mr. Doubleday, Mr. Neve, Mr. Tulevich, Capt. Sykes and Capt. Sinbad, to discuss options before commissioners pick up the issue again.

Mr. Stanley urged those involved to come up with a solution. “As you can see, there is a problem when you have boats out there you can’t get in touch with,” he said. “We face this (issue) year after year after year. That’s the problem we’re trying to resolve.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • francis posted at 3:37 pm on Mon, Aug 20, 2012.

    francis Posts: 2533

    Call 813-247-2770 Hopefully they can help you out . Was told the real problem will be getting them declared abandoned. A boat breaker won't touch it without paperwork .

  • francis posted at 3:25 pm on Mon, Aug 20, 2012.

    francis Posts: 2533

    I am in total shock at the loss of Water World .[ohmy]

  • clammerhead posted at 10:18 pm on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    clammerhead Posts: 733

    When you get it figured out, how about sharing the information. There are a lot of boas Downeast that need to be removed. Some of which have been there for years.


  • francis posted at 4:53 pm on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    francis Posts: 2533

    American fiber green products is supposed to be in the business of grinding up old boats and reusing the glass to make other things.

  • francis posted at 10:09 am on Sun, Aug 19, 2012.

    francis Posts: 2533

    OK! The problem exists. What do you do to get rid of them and or recycle them? There has to be someone out there, who does this.

  • clammerhead posted at 8:22 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    clammerhead Posts: 733

    It's not like this is the only place in the state that this is a problem. There are numerous boats that have been left abandoned along the roadside leading Downeast, and as many following the roadway south.

    It isn't as hard to find out who the boats belong to as some might think. The hard part is getting them to do something with them. In order to enforce the removal, there needs to be legislative action from the State or Federal Government.

    Likewise there is a problem with requiring vessel registration with the local government. Almost any action the town may take can( and will ) be fought or danced around, due to superseding Maritime Law.

    This is what happens when you invite visitors to the area. They cause damage.

    This is also what happens when you develop ( and over-develop ) waterfront property.

    One time the roof on Granddaddy's fish house blew off. I made a much bigger deal out of it than he did. To help me understand and put things into perspective, he educated me on the issue by telling me " That's what happens when you live on the water ".

    The same holds true with this issue.

    To francis; Water World is gone. The same storm that pushed the boats in question underwater and onshore, destroyed Water World.


  • francis posted at 8:05 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    francis Posts: 2533

    Sell them to Jack Sparrow and then rum all around!![beam]

  • Big Fat Drunk Republican posted at 4:02 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Big Fat Drunk Republican Posts: 568

    Sounds like a good idea, i'm sure there are some short sighted issues, but this is a conversation that needs to be had. I travel thru Taylors Creek several times a year and I am surprised at the number of rotting or neglected boats that line that channel. Anyone who feels putting policies in place to protect property is a bad idea should have their head examined. just because Beaufort is a boating community doesn't make it a place for tired boats to waste away.

    All coastal communities have hurricane prep policies and ideas to make the after scenario much easier to deal with, wasn't there a Nor-easter that blew thru within the last 12 months where a boat broke from it's mooring and collided with other boats? That wasn't a hurricane.

    If asking people to register their boat with the town if they plan on mooring long term is going to scare them off, I bet they aren't the people you want using Taylors Creek as their boat's home.

  • francis posted at 12:12 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    francis Posts: 2533

    Dumping unwanted boats is nothing new and they used to quietly rot away. Now with fiberglass, they hang around forever. I have wondered where all the thousands of damaged and unwanted boats go to die. Never could get a answer. Chain of ownership should not be too hard to find, but getting the owner to do anything would not be cost effective. Haul them out and burn them would be best, but for the mess. Not allowing Boat Bums, to start with, would be a big help. By the way, is WATER WORLD still around?

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot posted at 9:21 am on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Posts: 387


    What Would Blackbeard Do?


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