BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC — Bobbing listlessly in a small harbor near Dutchman Creek Park in Southport, a large boat drifted aimlessly in the wind before jerking to a halt, caught by its anchor. Mere feet from the boat, only the mast of another was visible above the water.
As Southport resident Autumn Bell watched her children play at the park, she described the harbor — filled with about 10 abandoned boats — as a “boat graveyard” and an “eyesore.” Some of the boats float eerily above the water, while others have sunk beneath the surface.
“I say it’s where boats come to die,” Bell said. “They’re all abandoned and it’s an eyesore and I know it can’t be good for the environment.”
In March 2017, Brunswick County Commissioners adopted an abandoned boat ordinance to address the issue of people anchoring and leaving their boats in public waterways. Though the harbor at Dutchman Creek Park off Fish Factory Road is one of the places where abandoned boats are most visible, Capt. Tommy Tolley with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said it’s a widespread issue — particularly in the Oak Island and Southport areas.