People who live in Oriental and rely on tourist dollars are worried the tourists who arrive by boat will pass by their little Pamlico County town because of a handful of boats taking up all the anchorage space that won't leave. Thursday there were four boats anchored out in a spot that is typically reserved for sailors stopping by on their way up and down the intracoastal.
While a couple of the boats have people living aboard, two others are bobbing around empty. Some are worried its keeping other visitors out.
"They detract from other boats that want to come and anchor, and we thrive from the snowbirds going south and the people heading back up after the winter to stop here. When our anchorage gets filled with boats that stay there for a year they'll pass us by," said Oriental resident David White.
Some locals have called the Coast Guard to help, but since these boaters are not doing anything illegal, they can't really kick them out. A town commissioner drafted up a proposal that would officially give the town jurisdiction of the waters up to 200 yards from the dock. Larry Summers is hoping for approval from legislators.
We spoke with town officials from other coastal towns. In New Bern, if a boat is abandoned that is a community or health hazard they will try and get in touch with the owner, and eventually call Sea Tow. If it's in the navigational channel they can call the Coast Guard. In Beaufort, officials say unless a boat becomes a danger it is hard to get rid of them. They say maritime laws are very complicated.