Archive for » September 4th, 2017«

Missing boater’s wife: Search to continue without Coast Guard

The wife of one of Gaston County’s missing boaters remains hopeful, even as days pass without signs of the fishermen.

Monday marked eight days since Tina Hambrick last saw her husband. David Hambrick and his cousin Steve Chaney, each originally from north Belmont, set off for a fishing trip off the coast of Oak Island Aug. 27 and never returned. The U.S. Coast Guard found the boaters’ missing Trophy Pro fishing boat 15 miles offshore from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina on Friday, but neither boater was on board.

Still, Tina Hambrick says she’ll always remain hopeful that her husband will be found in due time.

“Every day has been different,” she said. “But every day has begun with hope that that’s going to be the day they’re found.”

‘Extraordinary men’

October will mark 18 years since Tina and David Hambrick got married. Add that to the three years the couple dated beforehand and the two have known each other for more than two decades.

So it came as no surprise to Tina Hambrick that when news spread of her husband’s disappearance, people all across Gaston County wanted to help. Sammy’s Pub in Belmont contributed money from beer sales to help fund a private search, and some local boat owners made the long drive to assist in whatever ways they could.

“They are very extraordinary men,” Tina Hambrick said of the cousins. “They are very loved and respected… (David)’s smart, funny, fun-loving, good natured.”

A GoFundMe page set up by Hambrick family friend Tangela Moss had raised $14,450 to aid in the private search as of Monday morning.

At one point 30 private citizens took their boats to the water to help. On Labor Day, more than a week after the boaters went missing, Tina Hambrick said around 15 were still contributing.

A tough discovery

The U.S. Coast Guard finally located the fishing boat Friday, on the sixth day of search. It was partially capsized, with some water at the bottom.

Tina Hambrick says the cousins took at least three life jackets on board with them. Two were missing by the time the Coast Guard came across the vessel. There were no signs of the boaters, nor any cellphones left behind.

David Hambrick had recently purchased the boat used. But it appeared to be in pretty good shape, with some damage to the top but none to the hull, Tina Hambrick said.

Coast Guard officials said there were no signs of distress, no clue that another person forced the two off the boat.

Plenty of people have made their own guesses as to what could’ve happened to them. Tina Hambrick says she’s waiting for answers before she leaps to any conclusions.

“I have no theories,” she said. “All that is just pure speculation.”

The Coast Guard trekked more than 33,000 miles in looking for the two men. On Saturday they suspended that search.

It was a decision Tina Hambrick was expecting, one the Coast Guard prepared her for from the beginning. She was grateful for the honesty, even if it wasn’t the easiest news to hear.

Not giving up

The helicopters and airplanes the Coast Guard used to help find the boat represented an arsenal of tools the family won’t be able to match with private donations. Still, the search remains on, Tina Hambrick said.

And it does so thanks in part to all the different people willing to help.

“We’ve had lots of assistance from the Coast Guard. They were absolutely wonderful during (their) search,” Hambrick said. “We’ve had assistance from private boaters and beach walkers, people passing out flyers… The entire boating and fishing community, it’s a community as a whole. They’ve come together for a cause.”

The private search began as an organized effort. Now they’re more or less doing their own thing, Tina Hambrick said. They’re searching from north of Oak Island down to Georgetown, South Carolina, and perhaps into the Charleston area.

The family is still taking donations, in the hopes that a search, in some form, can continue as long as possible. Those hoping to help can donate by visiting Moss’s GoFundMe page or by contacting Moss through the page to volunteer their assistance.

You can reach Adam Lawson at 704-869-1842 or




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Homes, marina, restaurants coming to South Carolina’s Port Royal

COLUMBIA — The former heavy duty maritime terminal in Port Royal will become a development with 400 residences, dozens of stores and restaurants, a hotel and a marina capable of docking some of the world’s biggest yachts at the historic waterfront Beaufort County town.

“It has a chance to transform this town,” state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said.

Developers unveiled their plans to The Post and Courier two weeks before closing on the $9 million sale from the state.

The deal, slated to close Sept. 19, ends 13 years of wrangling over the future of the property since the little-used port was closed under Gov. Mark Sanford’s administration.

“This is the most highly anticipated project on the South Carolina coast in the past decade,” said Columbia real estate broker Whit Suber, one of the project’s developers. “This is not Disney. It’s something not you have to make up. You have a real village here.”

Grey Ghost Properties — led by Suber, Beaufort boat dealer Chris Butler and four other investors — won a state auction for the port earlier this year. They expect about $200 million in development on the 317-acre site, which developers likely will not name. Investors include actor Matt Battaglia, who appeared in “Friends,” “Thor” and “True Detective.”

They bought the port for far less than previous contracts of $26 million in 2006, $17 million in 2012 and $15.4 million in 2015. But the sale price was higher than the state appraisal of $6.95 million. Just 52 acres of the Battery Creek site can be developed.

First steps

Grey Ghost’s first steps in the first 18 months are reopening the boat storage building, constructing a waterfront walkway, and restarting the seafood market and Dockside restaurant, both of which were closed after a 2015 fire.

Developers also want to reopen a shrimp processing plant, also closed in the fire, and bring shrimp boats back to town. That kind of activity is the character Suber says developers want to create on the old port site on the southern tip of town. 

“We want to have a working man’s feel to it,” he said. “Our design concept is not Boca Raton. It’s Port Royal. We want to have an authentic Lowcountry feel to it.”

Design work is based on St. Augustine, Fla., another waterfront town like Port Royal, first visited by European explorers in the late 1500s. Borrowing an idea from the famed Florida city, developers want some areas to be open to only pedestrians. There’s talk of extending the 10-mile Spanish Moss Trail that starts near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and winds through Beaufort into Port Royal.

Grey Ghost has two miles of waterfront to work with. In addition to the restaurants, shops and a five-story hotel at the former break-bulk marine terminal site along Battery Creek, Grey Ghost plans on building up to 120 homes on a bluff and creating a walkway to generate more foot traffic.

“You have a waterfront village with no access to the waterfront,” Suber said.

A planned marina will be a large draw for the project with up to 225 slips and space for up to a dozen “mega-yachts” that have a minimum length of 125 feet. Suber hopes the old port can attract well-heeled yachters cruising between New York and Miami.

As for places to eat, Suber said he has another restaurant interested in joining Dockside, and he’s working with the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort about opening an eatery with its culinary program. Suber said he also is speaking to Scott Burgess, who runs the Bierkeller in Columbia, about opening a microbrewery.

“We could have the most convenient place to boat and dine in all of South Carolina,” Suber said.

There could be around 1,000 people living on the old port with plans calling for multifamily housing that would bring the total number of housing units, residences and apartments to 400.

The town is already growing before the latest development with its population expanding by one-third to 12,800 since the port went on sale.

But before all that work can happen, developers need some income. That’s why Grey Ghost fought to keep the boat storage building that was slated to be torn down. They hope to reopen what’s known as the dry stack within 60 days to help pay some bills.

“It will take years to develop all of this,” Suber said.


The terminal at the former Port of Port Royal (left) could become a five-story, 150 room hotel. The buyers of the shuttered state-run marine terminal plan to reopen the boat storage building (right) within 60 days. Provided/CBRE Inc.

Making a connection

Port Royal town manager Van Willis, who wrote a letter to then-Gov. Sanford asking for help in redeveloping the port site in 2003, said he’s happy with the development plans.

“Reknitting the waterfront with the rest of town was most important to us,” Willis said. “We want to connect with the nicest piece of property in town.”

The makeover is expected to give Port Royal a tourist boost. The town, which has two hotels, does not draw as many visitors as Beaufort to the north and Hilton Head Island to the south. The new hotel, restaurants and stores could give visitors to Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island a reason to stay in the town where the base is located.

“We host them, but we don’t always capture them,” Willis said.

The hotel planned at the port terminal would have about 150 rooms, doubling the number of rooms in town.

The port sale is a real relief for a community weary after years of unfulfilled promises.

Davis, who was Sanford’s chief of staff when the port first went on the market, said watching several sales contracts fall apart made him feel like Charlie Brown constantly getting tricked by Lucy when trying to kick a football.

The prospect of a port sale sent nearby real estate prices rising in the first years. But there was no sale and the recession slammed the speculators. Davis blamed the State Ports Authority for asking too much for the site.

A state law that Davis sponsored put the port property in the hands of the S.C Department of Administration last year and led to the auction this year. State officials would not say how many bidders submitted offers.

Grey Ghost and town officials are on the same page in part because of a development plan the town put in place for anyone taking over the port site. 

“I know Whit has an appreciation for what the town is,” Davis said. “They have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. We don’t have a group out of Atlanta or Charlotte who want a quick profit.”

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Wichita Falls man takes boat to Houston to help flood victims – KAUZ


It has been more than a week since the city of Houston was hit with devastating flooding due to Hurricane Harvey.

In that time, we’ve seen businesses across Texoma offer help to those victims.

One Wichita Falls man got to see first hand, the help that is needed.

With a metal boat strapped to the top of his suburban, Michael Fiore spent his week saving lives.

“Even though it’s only a 14 foot Jon boat, we’re able to help get four or five people a time in there with some of their belongings as well,” said Fiore.

Last Monday, he headed for Houston.

After meeting up with a friend and his brother the three spent three days in some of the hardest hit areas.

What he saw, was devastating.

“We were driving through flooded highways for miles on end where there was anywhere from 2 feet of water covering the highway and you never got out of it,” said Fiore.  “To see that the entire part of southeast Texas was covered in two to three feet of water.  There was places where there were no pieces of dry land for miles and miles.  So many people have lost their homes.  It’s just horrible.”

It’s because of this tragic event that has a lot of people and businesses asking what they can do to help.

Which is why at Smith’s Gardentown, they are sending 20 percent of all of the sales they make this Labor Day weekend to the Salvation Army.

Steve Smith, co-owner of Smith’s Gardentown said he wanted to help out because he remembers what is like to have to rebuild, after having their business destroyed in the tornado of 1979.

“We’ve been looking for something we could do to help out the native Texans and our neighbors,” said Smith.  “It just seems like the right time to be able to do that.”

Fiore said the most encouraging thing he saw amongst all the tragedy is how many people came to help.

He saw close to a thousand boats of people just like him.

“It was really amazing and encouraging to see just regular people you know leave their homes and leave their families, leave their work, and risk their own lives,” said Fiore.  “First responders had us write our social security numbers on our arms in case they had to find our body.  To see these people make these sacrifices and spending their own money to get down there just because there was people in need that was extremely encouraging.”

If you couldn’t make it out to Smith’s Gardentown Sunday to help with the cause, the business is continuing their sale Labor Day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Copyright 2017 KAUZ All Rights Reserved

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Seascape USA delivers its 500th boat – Fosters

KITTERY, Maine — Kittery’s Toralf Strand grew up sailing all sorts of vessels in his native Norway. He even constructed a sail boat from a discarded boat hull, a car engine and fashioned a mast from a large oak tree he chopped down in a forest near Oslo.

As sailing became more and more a part of Strand’s life he said he began to specifically seek out a racer-cruiser, a sailboat he could operate by himself. That is when he discovered the Slovenian company Seascape, which was started by two Mini Transat sailors, who originally wanted to build an open-racing sailboat without a complicated sail plan, according to Strand.

Strand said he was floored by how responsive and easy to sail the Seascape boats were so he traveled to Slovenia in April 2015 to meet with representatives of Seascape with an offer: He wanted to be the official dealer of Seascape boats in the United States.

“He came back from Slovenia with the contract and just like that we were in the sailing business,” said Sabrina Velandry, Strand’s longtime partner, who serves as the director of sales and marketing for Seascape USA with the help of her daughters Sienna and Luna.

On Saturday, the Eliot-based sailboat retailer delivered its 500th boat since launching in the United States.

“The first time I sailed the boat, it looked so modern and I knew this was the one I wanted to bring to the U.S.,” said Strand, who is Seascape USA’s lead dealer. “It doesn’t have complicated controls but it allows you to push your sailing skills to the limit without pushing the boat’s limit. It’s more about having fun sailing and working less.”

Seascape models have top speeds of roughly 18 nautical mph, according to Strand. He said they can be sailed by one person and can quickly transition from using a large spinnaker sail in front to using a code sail on the bow of the boat with one user-friendly crank. According to Strand, the top of the mainsheet is designed to twist in swirling winds and “spill” the excess wind that could bog someone down in another boat that lacks the same feature. He said the sailing configuration is one of many reasons why Seascape’s boats are just as suited for a beginner as they are for someone looking to race competitively.

“With all sailing, there is always a bit of a learning curve, though these boats are like wind-surfers; they’re very responsive,” Strand said. “This boat will allow you to mess up and it won’t capsize because it cuts through the waves and rests flat on the water unlike traditional boats. The boat is never going to be boring, but it has enough stability for a beginning sailor to learn.”

Seascape USA currently boasts three sailboats in its fleet, the Seascape 18, 24 and 27 with the Seascape 14 set to debut at the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany, which is one of the world’s preeminent boat shows. The Seascape 18 won Boat of the Year from Sailing World Magazine in 2016. This year, the Seascape 24 followed suit and won Boat of the Year and the Best Boat award from SAIL Magazine. Velandry said the Seascape 24 and 27 will be on display at the Newport Boat Show Sept. 14-17 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Velandry said the boats are popular with those new to sailing, those looking for an effective boat to race or anyone looking for a quality boat in general.

“These boats make you feel empowered because the boat comes at a relatively affordable price and it’s easily (towed by trailer) so it works for leisure and sport,” Velandry said. “We want to be as approachable as possible, and pride ourselves on being a sailboat company that is not exclusive, where the emerging sailor and the racer alike can come by, book a test sail, and get to know us and the boats.”

Above all Strand said he is thrilled to be providing high-quality sailboats to American consumers, especially the Seascape 18 and 24 because they can be launched by one person. They can easily be put onto light trailers, which eliminates the need for the sailor to enter a decades-long list for a mooring and also eliminates expensive hauling and storage fees, which lowers the barriers of introducing the sport of sailing to more and more people, according to Strand.

“It’s exciting to be on the forefront of this new trend in sailing where we see lighter and simpler boats; suitable for a broad range of sailors from beginners to racers,”  Strand said. “The boats are fast and fun to sail. The whole Seascape community has been a joy to be a part of and grow with.”

Seascape USA is at 398 Route 236, Suite 33 in Eliot.

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