By Capt. Jeff Waxman
In the early 70’s the fleet at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center (OIFC) consisted of some 30 charter boats, almost all run by owner operators, almost all single engine, much like today. The newer boats were likely to be the 37’ers built by Warren O’Neill, pushed often by Cummins 903’s running roughly 16-18 knots. The older rigs, like the Jerry Jr. and the Erma Queen, had the old style canoe stern, workboat lines and paddled along at maybe 14 knots…maybe.
Spring of 1974 though, caused a bit of a stir. The Gal O Mine built by Omie Tillett was splashed. She was built for Big Al, Allan Foreman, local charter Captain. She was big..53’. And she was fast…23 knots at 1850 turns being pushed by a Detroit 12v71 Ti..and she still had more in reserve. And she was beautiful, proud bow, lots of flare, sweeping sheer line, with gleaming Awl Grip to show her off! Some folks even commented that her size and power might just cause her to break up in heavy seas!
Well, not only did she not break up, she ushered in a new era. The following spring, Buddy Davis splashed his hull number one..the 46’ Capt BC for Buddy Cannaday, who soon would follow building boats himself! The BC was pushed along at 21 knots powered by a single 8v71Ti.
But, the Gal was Queen of the Fleet, Big Al at the helm, leaving daily at daybreak…first out and first back. She even had the then unheard of electronic marvel of…radar! On more than one occasion in fog or heavy rains most others followed her.
But, by the early 80’s, Big Al bought a strip of marshland on Roanoke Island and sold the Gal to Jap Richardson, likely who hired Benjie York as Captain. At this time, the Gal was docked right beside my partners 35’ Harris, a private rig. We marveled often at how well the Gal rode and how comfortable she was, how many folks could relax in her huge cockpit…
Well, of course the inevitable took place…my partner, Capt Joe Perez, bought the Gal from Jap in the early 80’s! Joe hired the best..Capt Sam Stokes… as full time Capt and the name was changed to…Fight N Lady. Sam and Joe ran her through the 80’s amassing a record of successes along the way…including in 1985 a 1020lb blue marlin..then the third largest Atlantic Blue taken in the world! Add in the countless limits of tuna and dolphin, the big eyes and the years of multiple releases of white marlin…an enviable record.
But, by the mid 90’s the Detroit 12 was getting tired, wheezing a bit, smoking a bit..so a new power plant was installed…a 3412 Caterpillar, manual not electronic, bringing her up to 1050 horsepower. Now, her cruise increased to 25 knots and her fuel burn went down. A typical full day offshore run? 130-140 gallons…efficient enough to make her profitable to run even with fluctuations in fuel pricing.
Through the 90’s the Lady remained a top boat. In fact her Tee Shirts have been seen not only in the worlds best fishing spots, but also in places like Bangkok, Copenhagen, Lucerne and on and on. Sam ran her generally with Joe filling in as needed.
As the times changed, Joe talked seriously about perhaps a new build Lady. The newer rigs were now pushing 60’, cruising 25 knots plus and gorgeous to look at. But, every time he crunched the numbers and did the analysis, it was crystal clear…the Fight N Lady was the perfect combination. She was fully updated, beautiful to look at, still fast, economical and great in any sea!
Fast forward to 2018. Sam has retired, Joe still runs her on occasion, a new and capable Captain, Roger Parker is at the helm ( he was the mate for many years before getting his ticket) and she stays fully booked and continues as one of the top boats in the Fleet! In June 2018, I took a friend on her for a two day busmans holiday…limit of tuna by 9:30am Wed, limit of dolphin by 9:30 Thursday capped off by a sailfish release…and back at the dock by 1:00! And her powerplant? Over 30,000 hours, running strong as new, oil changed religiously and risers every five years or so!
A true Carolina Classic in every way..from the builder, to her Captains and to her owners…she’s as good as it gets!
Just a side note: to give you an idea of the forward thinking of Big Al, her first owner and Captain, the piece of marshland that he bought in 1980? Today it’s known as “Pirates Cove”.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has certified a new state record for bluefin tuna that was caught on Saint Patrick’s Day by an angler aboard a Pirates Cove Marina boat.
The 877-pound bluefin was brought to shore aboard Capt. Dennis Endee’s A-Salt Weapon, after a 2 1/2 hour fight and then another 90 minutes to pull it on board, according to the Pirates Cove Facebook page.
The angler was Scott Chambers from Townsend, Del., a retired U.S. Army general. He caught the fish trolling bait on 130-pound line test on a Shimano 130 rod and reel.
It measured 113 inches curved fork length, tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail, and had a girth of 79 inches.
The “trophy-size” fish was caught on the final day that bluefins more than 73 inches long could be kept in the Atlantic south of Great Egg Inlet, N.J.
The new mark shatters the previous state record of 805 pounds, set in 2011 by Corey Shultz of Waverly, Va. fishing aboard the Sea Breeze out of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.
A bluefin weighing more than 1,000 pounds was hauled to the docks in Beaufort earlier this winter, but because that catch was sold to a dealer it was not eligible for the recreational-only N.C. Salt Water Tournament record.
Story courtesy via The Fishing Wire
Anatomy of a SAR Case: Beware the Bar
As seen in the Coast Guard Mid Atlantic
All is quiet on the pier at Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet, where two steely boats bob and sway in the shadows. One of the two suddenly roars to life, deck lights blazing and radar antenna twirling.
Five orange-clad figures bustle around on the boat, popping in and out of the compartments, snapping on life jackets. When the boat is deemed ready, they huddle up on the back deck and discuss the plan for this early morning underway trip.
Their objective: conduct a bar report.
Every morning, approximately 30 minutes before sunrise, the station crew heads out to assess the conditions of the Oregon Inlet bar, a sandy shelf that lurks only about 5 feet underwater at the inlet’s entrance. The bar serves as a harsh welcome mat for boats entering the inlet; rushing water collides with the sand bar, rockets up to the ocean’s surface, then spikes in a turbulent pile of breaking waves.
Station Oregon Inlet crews monitor the conditions at the bar, relay the information to local mariners, and help boaters navigate the dangerous strip of whitecaps and waves. It is a recurring part of the crew’s routine; depending on the weather and boat traffic, they often conduct bar reports more than once a day.
At 6:34 a.m., the crew reaches the bar, pleased to see that conditions are considerably mild. Waves arc about 2 feet over the ocean’s surface before dipping back down, tugged along by a strong ebbing current. Winds skim the waves at 10 mph, tossing up a pleasant, 64-degree breeze.
The 2-foot breakers are a welcome sight to the crew, who have experienced upwards of 14-foot waves at the bar. Boat rides are often wild, stomach-dropping roller coaster rides in the inlet, but such is life at a Coast Guard surf station.
The crew hovers near the bar to watch the procession of recreational fishing boats parade by, most of them headed out for a day of angling at the Gulf Stream. They all glide easily through the small waves at the bar, and the Oregon Inlet crew starts entertaining thoughts of breakfast back at the station.
Until, that is, a 60-foot sport fisher crests the bar, then completely stalls.
A flip switches on in coxswain BM2 Travis Porter’s mind. His eyes scan the name stamped on the boat’s stern – Lor-A-Di – and he calls out to its crew on the radio, trying different frequencies. When they don’t respond, he approaches. The Coast Guard crew sidles up alongside the stalled boat, their 47-foot Motor Lifeboat looking quite stalwart beside the sleek, white Lor-A-Di.
Through a shouted conversation, BM2 Porter learns that the vessel’s engines have failed and that the Lor-A-Di is completely dead in the water.
For a brief moment, he observes the vessel crawling south, tugged along by the strong current. He glances at the waves, now building to heights of 4 feet, and makes the call: “Prepare the deck for a stern tow!”
The well-trained crew flies into action, coiling lines and rigging gear. Even SN Nathan Kapsar, now technically participating in his very first search and rescue case, moves without hesitation, unfurling the heavy towline. On Porter’s command, the MLB’s engineer, MK2 Mathieu Desautels, chucks a heaving line to a crewman waiting on the Lor-A-Di’s bow: success in one throw.
Station Oregon Inlet coxswains and crew members practice towing on a regular basis, and on this February morning, it shows. In a matter of minutes, Porter tows the Lor-A-Di over the bar and away from the breaking waves.
Once clear of the whitecaps, the Coast Guard crew detaches the tow and waits nearby while the boaters examine their vessel for damage and try to restart the engines. They rumble to life, but the Lor-A-Di’s captain reports a severe vibration in the propeller shafts. They need to head back to Wanchese Harbor, but they won’t be making the journey alone.
Porter and his crew focus on the new mission at hand: escorting the seven people aboard the Lor-A-Di back to their homeport.
Although it’s only about 10 miles to Wanchese Harbor, the going is slow and the trip takes over an hour. The Station Oregon Inlet crew sees the Lor-A-Di safely moored, then waits for another MLB crew to arrive and relieve them.
This second crew conducts a vessel inspection to check all of the mariners’ safety equipment. The inspection goes smoothly; this was only the Lor-A-Di’s second voyage, and the brand new sport fisher is well-equipped.
Meanwhile, Porter wheels the MLB around and points the bow southeast, where the sun now gleams over the waters of Oregon Inlet. They have already accomplished so much, and all of it before breakfast.
Later, when asked about this case and others like it, Station Oregon Inlet personnel revealed that this is a common occurrence in the area.
“I have been stationed at Oregon Inlet for four years and have been a part of about 50 cases,” said Porter. “The most common case we get here is towing disabled vessels. Oregon Inlet is beautiful, but is a very dynamic and challenging area for mariners.”
“The shoaling conditions change on a daily basis, which is another reason this area is so dangerous,” SN Kapsar added.
When the station crew responds to a disabled vessel, they often find that the culprit is none other than the Oregon Inlet bar.
“We see lots of capsizing, grounding, and damage on the bar,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Mark Dilenge, the station’s officer in charge. “Even on a flat day, the amount of ocean water that flows in and out creates huge tidal effects, which can be super dangerous.”
Luckily, the crew is not only well-trained to tow vessels around and over the notorious bar, they are also well-equipped.
The 47-foot Motor Lifeboat is the workhorse on which station personnel rely to facilitate these missions, and rightfully so – the robust, aluminum boat is capable of handling much harsher conditions than those the crew experienced on Feb. 23.
In order to avoid being pulled to safety by a 47 MLB, the Station Oregon Inlet crew urges mariners to keep a constant eye on weather forecasts, heed the station’s bar reports, and take time to familiarize themselves with the Army Corps of Engineers’ depth surveys.
After properly outfitting their vessels and preparing themselves for every voyage, boaters should be able to fully enjoy Oregon Inlet and all its charms.
“I love the area,” said Kapsar. “I love how much history the Outer Banks have. The first Surfmen were here, and now I get to be a part of that history, protecting the same coastline they did.”