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Effort to raise sunken yacht continues

An Edward Kraemer & Sons crane from the Stillwater bridge project makes an unsuccessful attempt to raise a sunken yacht along the dike road in Hudson on Labor Day, Sept. 2. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)1 / 3
People watch the recovery effort on Labor Day from the floodwalls in Lakefront Park.2 / 3
Using a crane from the Stillwater bridge construction project, workers attempt to raise a yacht that sank at a St. Croix River dock in Hudson. 3 / 3

The effort to raise a 60-foot houseboat that sank in the St. Croix River at Hudson early Friday morning, Aug. 30, was ongoing as this edition of the Star-Observer went to press.

On Labor Day, a crane from the new Stillwater bridge project was brought in to lift the large pleasure craft, but the attempt came to a halt that evening when one of the cleats attached to the boat broke loose.

Ted Beyer of Exenvironmental Inc., the Hudson-based company called in to handle the containment and clean-up of fuel, said Tuesday morning that another attempt to raise the three-deck SkipperLine yacht was planned.

Beyer said straps would be placed under the boat to form a cradle for the Edward Kraemer & Sons crane to lift.

The recovery effort on Labor Day attracted a crowd of onlookers, with some people responding to media reports about the sunken boat.

Beyer said water was pumped from the boat as the crane tried to lift it, but the pumps used initially weren't able to keep up with the water pouring back into the boat. Some of the windows of the yacht broke from the water pressure when it went under.

The crane made progress lifting the boat when 10-inch and 8-inch pumps were brought in to do the bailing, but then the cleat gave way and the boat sank to the bottom again.

"There's a lot of smart guys doing a lot of smart things. When a boat sinks, it's hard to get out of the water," Beyer said.

He said that what isn't apparent to the casual observer is that there is a lot of boat below the waterline. One deck is completely submerged, and the second deck is partially under water.

The yacht stood as tall as the Grand Duchess that it was docked next to before it went under, according to Beyer.

He said the bow of the yacht is resting in a hole in the riverbed behind where the Grand Duchess riverboat docks.

A city parks worker noticed the boat, named Find Time, sinking in the water shortly after 4 a.m. Friday.

Parks Supervisor J.J. Barnes notified the Hudson Fire Department and Gordy Jarvis, owner of the dock where the yacht was tied, of the situation.

Exenvironmental, which provides training on hazardous materials handling and clean-up, was called to contain and mop up the diesel fuel and gasoline that leaked from the boat.

The company put down booms to keep the small amount of fuel on the water surface from drifting away. Workers also used absorbent pads to collect the fuel from the surface.

"It's more of a curiosity than a hazard," Beyer said of the sunken boat Tuesday morning.

The boat reportedly is owned by two Twin Cities businessmen.

Jarvis, the owner of Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines (which operates the Grand Duchess), said his company occasionally provides food and services for the yacht.

Jarvis said the yacht has a steel hull, and only a handful of places where the water could get in. He speculated that a valve or something broke, letting the water in.

The boat reportedly was used previous evening, but no one was on it when it sank. The reason it went under is still unknown, and probably won't be discovered until the boat is raised.

While no figures have been reported, the recovery effort to date has likely run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

A crane operator working on Labor Day reportedly said he was being paid two and a half times his normal wage.

Representatives of the boat owners' insurance company have been on the scene throughout the recovery effort, according to Beyer.

Hudson Public Work and Parks Director Tom Zeuli said Tuesday morning that two cranes might be needed to raise the boat. He expected the straps to be placed under the boat on Tuesday, and the lifting to resume Wednesday morning.

Beyer said recovery workers are concerned about the boat tipping on its side as it is raised.

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.

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