Outdoors Notebook

Core Sounder Sylvia II beginning a new chapter

CorrespondentMay 21, 2014 

The 36-foot Core Sounder Sylvia II cruises past a visiting Tall Ship in 2006.


The weathered dock where Peltier Creek enters Bogue Sound sits empty. The “Sylvia II” has left for another adventure. But the round-sterned boat will have a new captain at the helm on the return to those Carteret County waters.

“You have to do what’s right. I’m no longer able to take care of her the way she should be, so I had to find somebody who could,” said Bob Simpson, longtime owner of the graceful white Core Sounder that often was part of the freelance outdoors columns Simpson wrote for The News & Observer.

A bad back has kept Simpson, 88, ashore pondering a future for the 36-foot boat. Efforts to donate it locally faltered, and Simpson said Sunday at his home shaded by a huge oak that he had determined the boat shouldn’t sit another year awaiting the fundraising required to accompany the donation.

A “Save a Classic” feature in the back of Wooden Boat Magazine brought a visit from Bob Graham, who lives near Southport. Neither disclosed the selling price.

“I think everything is working out,” Simpson said by phone Tuesday night, relieved to see a new start for the boat, which was built in the 1930s near the Morehead City waterfront. Simpson and his late wife, Mary, purchased and restored it after it sank in a storm on Groundhog Day in 1976.

“I know I could have gotten much, much more for it,” he said. “But I wasn’t interested in that. I was interested in quality of care.”

That led him to choose Graham, who grew up in New York and works for an engineering and construction management company. Graham said he sought a Concordia yawl sailboat until he visited Raleigh and saw a museum exhibit on Core Sound. He was smitten. And when he read the Core Sounder was available, he did not hesitate.

“They tell you what you need to do is have a survey on a boat (before buying), but I decided we’d do that later. Whatever she needed done, we’d get it done,” Graham said by phone Tuesday morning after trailering the boat on Monday to storage in Wilmington.

Also a woodcarver, he said he plans to be hands-on help during the restoration process. He has already had consultations with experts on wooden boats. He understands the boat’s history as a fishing boat, mail carrier and even a school bus.

“The intent and the hope is to bring her back to Morehead City for the Wooden Boat Show (in Beaufort) next year if the timing works,” Graham said. “We’ll have to see.”

Scholarships available: Apply by June 25 for one of the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s seven $1,000 scholarships for students majoring in wildlife, fisheries, forestry, conservation or the environment. Go to http://www.ncwf.org/programs/ncwf-scholarship-grants.

Commission meets Thursday: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission meets at 9 a.m. Thursday at its headquarters in Raleigh at N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.

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Boggess: boggess.teri@gmail.com Twitter: @BoggessT

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