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Idaho Voices

Volley of storms gives boat owners sinking feeling

Devastation hit Bayview in the last few weeks, as at least six boats, up to 39 feet long, sank at their moorages, from various snow and ice causes.

To trump that, one of the barges with cranes that was used to raise most of them, broke loose during the Dec. 29 storm, ripping the mooring lines and setting sail across Lake Pend Oreille. When it finally stopped, the barge was at Lakeview, sans crane. Somewhere out in that 1,150-foot deep lake, sits a 40-ton crane that used to sit on the barge. Charley Kramer, owner of Kramer’s Tug and Barge, said, “Well, it’s worth between $40-$50,000 and we’ll try to recover it.”

He explained, “We have a towed sonar that may be able to spot it. If not, we may ask for the Navy to help, since the crane sticking up might interfere with their own sonar and sub testing.” He added, “It was uninsured.”

Sitting primly at its slip at Scenic Bay Marina, is a 26-foot pontoon boat. One problem: It’s sitting upside down, floating with the cabin underwater. It’s been owned for two years by Mike and Laura Whitby, who don’t really know how they are going to proceed. No hull insurance coverage was bought, as is with most boat owners. Hull insurance is expensive and most boat owners do not purchase it. Several other boats are rumored to have sunk as well, as well as boat sheds. Dec. 17 through Jan. 6 was just about as rough as it can get in less than one month.

Staying afloat

At one point, Gary MacDonald of Hudson Bay Marina, sent out a point-by-point set of instructions for those who had boats and or float homes, that the weight of snow was slowly sinking them.

Some float homes sank low enough to flood the lower floors, while boats were being pulled down by the sinking docks. What a mess!

Vista Bay Marina led the pack as far as sinkings go. Three large boats, including a 39-foot Avanti, sank in their slips. The Avanti has all but disappeared, the bow pulpit the only evidence that the boat was still there. All were raised by quick action on the part of Kramer Tug amd Barge. Pumped out and towed to MacDonald’s, they lined the gas dock, forlorn and in deep trouble when repairs begin.

One such boat had “For sale” signs. The 34-footer’s price may have dropped some, now.

Contact correspondent Herb Huseland at Read his blog at