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The Find Time yacht is floating again, and secured to a dock next to the dike road in Hudson, on Thursday morning, Sept. 5. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)

Mechanical failure said to have caused yacht to sink at Hudson dock

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News River Falls,Wisconsin 54022 http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/web-atdock_0.jpg?itok=XhITZIwa
Hudson Star Observer
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Mechanical failure said to have caused yacht to sink at Hudson dock
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A mechanical failure that allowed water to enter the 65-foot Find Time yacht is the reason it sank, Gordy Jarvis, the owner of the Hudson dock where it was tied, said Friday morning.

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Once the three-story boat lost its buoyancy, the water came in from windows and other places, too, Jarvis said.

It took a 24-hour effort to raise the 171-ton, steel-hulled boat, he reported.

The second – and successful – salvage operation started at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4.

A crew from Tjader & Highstrom, a New Richmond company that installs underground communication and power lines, made borings under the boat at the bow and stern in an attempt to fish straps beneath the hull to attach to the crane. The boring tools came out of the riverbed 150 feet from the boat, however.

The straps were then wedged under the hull by another means.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a crane from the Stillwater bridge construction site arrived on a barge, and the process of hoisting the yacht to the surface began.

It took more than an hour to get a hoist cradle properly attached to the straps beneath the boat. Workers had the cradle attached at one point, but then took it down to adjust it after the crane started lifting.

Javis said a 10-inch pump, an 8-inch pump and four 4-inch pumps were used to bail water from the yacht as the crane slowly raised it.

He said the pumps were removing 15,000 gallons per minute, but had a hard time keeping up initially because of water coming in through broken windows.

As the water level inside the boat was reduced, the water pressure from the outside would cause other breaches – including a door window that gave way.

Workers were inside the vessel, stopping leaks, as the pumps were running and the crane was hoisting.

The boat was evacuated three times when a whistle sounded, signaling that there was a danger of it tipping and sinking again.

The work went on throughout the night.

A man who said he worked on the salvage operation said in an email to the Star-Observer that the yacht regained buoyancy, came to the surface, and was secured to a dock along the dike road at 4:45 a.m. Thursday.

Jarvis said it took until 6 a.m. to pump the remaining water from the boat.

Jarvis said there is no truth to rumors about the sinking being caused by vandalism or from striking an object in the river. He said the steel hull of the boat is undamaged.

The section of dock the yacht was secured to was pulled out of place and damaged as the boat sank.

The boat was last out on the St. Croix River the evening of Aug. 29, a Thursday.

City Parks Supervisor J.J. Barnes noticed the boat sinking in the water shortly after 4 a.m. the next day. He notified the Hudson Fire Department and Jarvis, operator of the Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines.

The cruise line owns the dock and pays rent to the city for the location along the dike road. The cruise line operates its Grand Duchess riverboat from the dock.

The first attempt to raise the boat was made on Labor Day, Sept. 2. It came to an end when a cleat the hoist cradle was attached to came loose from the boat.

No estimate of the cost of the recovery operation has been reported, but it is likely to run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Exenvironmental, a hazardous materials training and clean-up company was on the scene 24 hours a day throughout most of the week making sure that the diesel fuel and gasoline from the boat’s tanks was contained.

A member of the Edward Kraemer & Sons crane crew reported being paid two-and-a-half times his normal wage on Labor Day. It’s a safe assumption that the crew was paid more that the customary wage when it worked throughout the night of Sept. 4-5, too.

Equipment, clean-up materials and other personnel were also needed for the effort.

Insurance company representatives were reportedly on the scene during much of the operation.

According to an online boat directory, the large houseboat was built in 2000 by SkipperLiner, a company located in La Crosse.

The company when out of business in 2010, but later reopened under new ownership.

Since 1971, SkipperLiner has built nearly 1,000 vessels –including private yachts, dinner vessels, water taxis, paddle wheelers, tugs and workboats, according to its website.

The Find Time's hull is 20 feet wide and 8.4 feet deep, according to the boat directory. It lists St. Paul as its hailing port and a Forest Lake, Minn., man as the owner.

It is unknown if the www.yachtingjournal.com directory is up to date.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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