Ocracoke Observer: Baltimore couple OK after 55-foot motor yacht grounds on South Point

The Vivens Aqua on the beach near south end of Ocracoke Island on Jan. 25, 2022. [NPS photo]

By Connie Leinbach, Ocracoke Observer
Scott and Karen Pumphrey of Baltimore, Maryland, landed on Ocracoke the wrong way – on the beach in their grounded yacht in the darkness Monday night.

The couple, both unharmed and still inside their 55-foot yacht “Vivens Aqua,” are awaiting the help of a tow as of midday Tuesday.

Talking to a reporter via Cape Hatteras National Seashore Law Enforcement Ranger Byron Atkinson’s phone, Scott said he and Karen were fine and well-provisioned. Although the heat inside the boat is off, he said they have a portable heater.

He explained that the couple was traveling back home after having purchased the boat in Palm Coast, Florida, and had been sailing via the Intracoastal Waterway.

They were on it for about a week going about 70 miles a day, he said.

“It was nice and calm yesterday and I wanted to make up some time,” he said. So, they left the Intracoastal at Morehead City and took to the ocean.

Around 7:30 p.m., after it got dark, Scott decided they should overnight in Ocracoke and turned into the Ocracoke Inlet.

“Then the steering kept turning me around,” he said. He headed for a red beacon, “but the beach got in between, and I wasn’t moving anymore.”

When Cape Hatteras National Seashore personnel spotted the boat early this morning, it was fully on the beach and anchored.

Atkinson and another local were on the beach coaching Scott this morning as he tried to back out into deeper water.

“I had it moving but the engines just got stuck in the same spot,” he said.

Being from the Chesapeake Bay area, Scott said he’s been around boats since he was a teenager and has owned boats, “but not one this big. This is the first time I went and bought something real big.”

High tide was at 12:30 today and won’t be again until 1:24 a.m. Wednesday.

As the tide receded in the afternoon, the boat was almost back on the beach.

Scott said the tow boat was supposed to arrive around 6 p.m., and even though it would be low tide, they would attach a line and apply gentle pressure to try to get the boat into deeper water as the tide rose.

Late in the afternoon, Scott had a local, Darren Burrus, who owns Cape Dredging and is often called on to dislodge grounded or submerged boats, take his wife, Karen, to catch the Hatteras ferry and then on to the couple’s home in Baltimore.

Scott said he would stay on the boat and as numerous curiosity seekers ventured out to the beach to see it, said he wished he could have seen Ocracoke under better circumstances.

“You all have been great,” he said.

The Pumphrey vessel on the Ocracoke beach at low tide Tuesday morning. NPS phot
Park Service Ranger Byron Atkinson talks with Scott Pumphreys Tuesday afternoon. Photo: C. Leinbach

In early December, the shrimp trawler F/V Bald Eagle II grounded off Southern Shores and a 38-foot sailboat, the Alhambra, came ashore off Avon. Both were eventually towed back to sea.

The trawler F/V Johnathan Ryan was refloated and steamed away several hours after grounding near Ramp 48 off Frisco on November 29.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.