Hurricanes

Owner devises plan to remove ship from perch atop dock after Irene

Posted September 1, 2011

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— Hurricane Irene left many damaged or destroyed boats in its wake, but the Belle of Washington refused to let Irene push her around.

The storm ripped the 85-foot-long cruise vessel from its moorings in the Pamlico River, but instead of sinking or washing up on land, the Belle settled perfectly atop a dock in Jackie and Gil Leebrick's backyard.

"My husband and I are both photographers. and Gil said, 'This is an iconic image,'" Jackie Leebrick said Thursday with a laugh. "It could've easily gotten right into the house, but maybe it hung up on the dock."

"I think it's amazing. That's what I think," said the Belle's owner, A.G. Swanner.

The 4-foot-wide dock has held up for days under the 54,000-pound vessel, but that could change to get the Belle back into the water.

Swanner said the plan is to use a crane to lift the Belle off the dock, which will then be knocked out so the ship can be lowered into the water.

"It'll be a hell of an idea, what an idea," Swanner said, adding that he will pay to rebuild the dock.

Swanner and the Belle have had a rough year. A January explosion aboard the ship caused about $80,000 in damage and led to months of repairs.

Belle of Washington Cruise ship left balanced atop dock after Irene

In May, Swanner's restaurant in Washington, Blackbeard's, burned down. He had no insurance for the restaurant, he said, partly because he was paying so much money to insure the Belle.

Swanner compares owning businesses to playing poker.

"You have to take the good with the bad or give it up, one way or another," he said. "I'm ready for another hand."

He said he hopes to reopen Blackbeard's later this month and will get the Belle back on the river for dinner cruises. A couple who had reserved the ship this weekend for a wedding will have to find another venue, however.

"We're going to fix her up (and) put her back in business," he said of his ship.

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  • fayncmike Sep 2, 2011

    "At a time like this only a self-centered, arrogant, good for nothing person would think of something like that.
    joericks"

    Well thinking like that is better then not thinking at all.

  • fayncmike Sep 2, 2011

    "
    Really??? REALLY????? The owner of the boat has obviously had a very difficult year. The entire community has just been through a stressful and devastating weather event. The owners of the dock don't seem to be at all upset with the situation - in fact, they seem to be somewhat amused by it - and are perfectly happy with the owner's solution. And now YOU are advocating bringing lawyers into the situation to add more stress and grief in hopes that they couple can steal someone else's boat!!! REALLY????? I'm glad you're not MY neighbor!
    davidk_at_unc"

    How touching. The article specifically stated that the boat was insured. Anytime I can sock it to an insurance company, I do. They sure don't mind socking it to us.

  • fayncmike Sep 2, 2011

    "Maritime law deals with international waters, not a river!
    160lilsis

    I suppose that could be true. If it is, the maritime lawyer could steer the people to the proper type of lawyer.

  • Elem-Teach Sep 2, 2011

    Actually the first thing the Leebrick's should do is see a maritime lawyer. I think there is a question of salvage rights here. Rebuilding their dock might just be a drop in the bucket of what they might be entitled to. Maritime law is a lot different and more primitive than most other law and the Leebrick's might even find themselves owning the boat.

    At a time like this only a self-centered, arrogant, good for nothing person would think of something like that.

  • Scare Crow Sep 2, 2011

    you're a good man A.G. bet Bobby Cahoon built that peir!

  • Rebelyell55 Sep 2, 2011

    GO WINGS
    September 2, 2011 8:06 a.m..

    One up on me by knowing the dock. I was going by the picture, The railroad cushions are flat and can be place under and around the boat. Even on the water. They float very well. Once inflated, they lift a lot of weight. They can be inflated as a group or in series. How close they can get the crane in will be interesting, that is a lot of weigth.

  • TechRescue Sep 2, 2011

    You can't "tow it off" - it's sitting on pilings, not the dock. Trying to drag it would destroy both the boat and the dock. At 54,000 lbs, a crane can lift it - the biggest problem will be getting a stable base for the crane close enough to the water. The weight restricts the boom length and radius - that's why they don't want to swing it clear. A 240-ton all-terrrain crane should work fine.

    Pick it up, pull the dock, drop it back in. Boat is not destroyed and homeowner gets a new dock. Win Win.

  • davidk_at_unc Sep 2, 2011

    "Actually the first thing the Leebrick's should do is see a maritime lawyer. I think there is a question of salvage rights here. Rebuilding their dock might just be a drop in the bucket of what they might be entitled to. Maritime law is a lot different and more primitive than most other law and the Leebrick's might even find themselves owning the boat." -- fayncmike

    Really??? REALLY????? The owner of the boat has obviously had a very difficult year. The entire community has just been through a stressful and devastating weather event. The owners of the dock don't seem to be at all upset with the situation - in fact, they seem to be somewhat amused by it - and are perfectly happy with the owner's solution. And now YOU are advocating bringing lawyers into the situation to add more stress and grief in hopes that they couple can steal someone else's boat!!! REALLY????? I'm glad you're not MY neighbor!

  • RMT-NC Sep 2, 2011

    In my opinion wouldn't it make more sense to get another boat (or tug boat) to hook to it & pull it off kind of like a tow truck would do for a vehicle. Would seem a whole lot less exspensive & probably would only require minor repair to the dock.

  • Always160 Sep 2, 2011

    Maritime law deals with international waters, not a river!

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