Irene grounds old NC sailboat, but captain hopes to race again

Posted September 9, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2011 10:28 a.m. EDT

— Tall and proud, the sailboat "Margaret" was part of the 2006 America's Sail in Beaufort. Built in 1904, the boat has served as a private yacht and military submarine spotter.

Now, the boat is grounded, lying on its side as part of the debris left behind by Hurricane Irene. The storm broke Margaret’s anchor chain and sent her sailing onto the shore.

Captain Bucko Edwards bought the Herreshoff-built boat in 1970 and spent seven years restoring her and getting her ready to race.

“She's fast. Having been a captain all my life, I still don't understand how she does it,” Edwards said.

The 71-year-old captain says Margaret finished first in the 2006 Pepsi Sail race off Beaufort.

“We simply came around, filled our sails with air and passed everybody,” he said. “We completely out-classed them, and everybody knew it.”

But the Margaret couldn't outrun Hurricane Irene. Edwards anchored the boat in Bath Creek, which has been known as a safe harbor from hurricanes all the way back to Blackbeard.

The anchor chain snapping was just bad luck, Edwards said, and it's not the only bad luck he's had lately. He has spent the past few years and the majority of his money fighting cancer.

“The cancer was extremely tough. I thought I was going to die. They told me not to buy any green bananas,” he said.

Edwards says he hasn’t allowed the cancer to kill him, and he vows that the Margaret won’t die either.

“Come hell or high water, if it's humanly possible, I'm going to make it happen (to save the Margaret),” he said.

Edwards says he needs to raise $15,000 to $20,000 to re-float the historic sailboat and race it again.

“If somebody helps me get her off, then they are in for the good race,” he said.

With a bit of wry smile, Edwards says he's keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Maria, thinking maybe it’ll flood just enough to help him float the Margaret.