Ocracoke Harbor Legislation Passes

Silver Lake Sunset (Best Shot 2014)
Silver Lake Sunset (Best Shot 2014)
Sue & Bill Shanklin

N.C. House & Senate Bill 429 was ratified on July 11, 2019. 

Colloquially known as the "derelict vessel" bill, the new legislation (officially titled "Navigable Waters/Manteo/Hyde") allows Hyde County to make, adopt, and enforce a set of specific ordinances for Silver Lake Harbor. 

The bill was introduced by its primary sponsor, Representative Bobby Hanig, a Republican serving his first term in the N.C. House. He represents District 6, which includes Hyde and Dare counties, as well as Currituck and Pamlico counties.

Representative Hanig sponsored the legislation governing Silver Lake at the request of Hyde County and at the recommendation of the Ocracoke Waterways Commission. 

Dealing with derelict vessels in Silver Lake was one of the first topics of discussion for the Waterways Commission when it was formed in October 2017. But this new legislation, which uses Brunswick County's laws as a template, goes farther than just dealing with eyesores and safety hazards caused by abandoned and derelict boats. 

"This gives us the ability to have a full harbor ordinance," said Waterways Commission member Justin LeBlanc at the July 10 Ocracoke Civic Affairs meeting. "We could also limit anchorage time, and require anchor lights and proof of a holding tank."

He went on to explain that enforcement will be a challenge, as Ocracoke's deputies don't have boats at their disposal and haven't been trained in vessel boarding for law enforcement. But it does allow Ocracoke to make some decisions about the future use of the harbor. 

The part of Bill 429 that references Ocracoke lists the following as its area of jurisdiction: 

  • Operation of boats and vessels, including restrictions concerning speed zones, no-wake zones, and types of activities conducted on the navigable waters within Silver Lake.
  • Restrict the anchoring and mooring of boats and vessels as to location and generally to regulate the anchoring and mooring of vessels within the navigable waters within Silver Lake.
  • Place and maintain channel aids and markers, anchoring aids and markers, and navigational aids and markers in conformity with the United States Aids to Navigation System and the rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission as adopted for use on the waters of North Carolina pursuant to G.S. 75A-15(c).
  • Make all reasonable rules and regulations as it deems necessary for the safe and proper use of the navigable waters within Silver Lake for the occupants of boats, vessels, swimmers, and others using said navigable waters.
  • Provide for the enforcement of ordinances adopted under the authority of this act in accordance with G.S. 153A-123.



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